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June 28, 2022

Referral Selling. Sales Prospecting. Referral Introductions, And “Returning The Favor” When Referral Prospecting

If you have been selling by referral for any length of time, you will eventually run into someone who says something like “I should send you to see Bill. Two years ago, that darn Bill sent over his insurance guy…and it would serve him right if I sent you over to see him”.

My suggestion? Smile and say “Tell me what happened”.  I’ve found out that this referral may be almost guaranteed to buy from you. I want the client to tell my what happened. What was he selling? How did the interview go? Did he buy from the salesperson that was sent over? I really want to know if he (or she) bought.

In nearly every case, the client will tell me about their relationship with “Bill”. They will talk about how they joke with each other, send insulting e-mails to each other, and are generally trying to “one up” the other guy. This is all good natured fun.  And I want to know who bought from that salesperson.

If the person that referred him over to see my client didn’t buy the product that was presented (or service presented), then that means that the salesperson was likely sent over in a slightly mean spirited way, with no regard to the salesperson’s time. It’s happened to me just a few times, And I don’t enjoy it.

But if the client’s friend actually bought what he salesperson was selling…and then my client (who was referred) also bought from the salesperson…then I know that it’s expected that if I am referred to my client’s friend, a sales would likely be made. And the reason is, in the history of this “returning the favor” ….sales were made. A history is established. Expectations are likely to be met. The referral is likely to buy from you.  This is assuming that the referral has a need for what you sell. If you sell scuba diving equipment, and the referral is allergic to water, this dynamic isn’t going to help you.

Once I find one of these “returned the favor” kind of referrals, that name goes to the head of my list of referrals. I’m even going to ask my client to call the referral, while I’m there, remind him of the “dept” he owes, and then talk briefly to the referral myself.  I laugh a little, because we are all in on a joke……but the appointment is made.

In my experience, seeing perhaps a hundred of these “referral exchange” leads….I can’t remember even once where they didn’t buy from me. Is it because I’m that great a salesperson? No. It’s because the friendship these two people have, carries over into the new relationship I’ll have with the referral. And expectations are there, even if it’s only on an unconscious level. And both people are used to seeing sales being made. Buying is almost expected.

I think I talk a little about this in my book Sales Prospecting.

Added later;

I just found this video of me talking about another aspect of this “Return the favor” type of referral. I think you’ll get a lot out of it. Enjoy.