There is major power in asking “Who can help me?” and taking it to the next level

I commonly see survey results indicating that more than 3 out of 4 customers of the salespeople I’m working with, have indicated that they would be happy to recommend.

And yet, when I do an analysis of the number of meetings with referred prospective customers, I generally find that the majority of salespeople have had NO referral meetings in the previous 60 – 90 days. When I analyse how many deliberate referral conversations salespeople have had with happy customers, I generally find a similar result.

The point I’m making here is that despite customers indicating they’re happy to help, the majority of salespeople are not turning that willingness into actual referrals. And customers aren’t the only people in our lives that would help us, if we were better at asking for help and staying top of mind.

This article is all about leveraging the credibility, networks and goodwill of others as part of your sales growth strategy. “Who can help me?” is a question not enough salespeople ask.

Let me share a few exercises and questions worth considering in relation to this very important part of your sales growth strategy.

1. Identify influential people

The first question is something I picked up at a Verne Harnish conference and it had a significant impact on my thinking and focus in this area. It’s a simple question but it normally takes 3 to 4 sessions to really answer it effectively. The question is “Who are the 20 people that will have the BIGGEST influence on your success or failure in the coming year?”

As you write out your list two things will become apparent. The first is that there are people that can help you and have a major impact on your success. The second and more confronting realisation is that there’s a very high probability that you’re not paying the top 5 enough attention.

2. Develop third-party referral relationships

The next consideration relates to developing third party referral relationships. In nearly every industry there are natural partners dealing with the types of customers you want to be doing business with and a single partnership can often deliver all the new business leads you need to achieve your sales growth targets.

My strong advice when considering this area is that less is more. Most salespeople have a lot more success if they focus more energy on less potential referral partnerships. The starting point is identifying 2 – 3 partners that you think you could deliver value to as part of the relationship.

3. Maximise customer referrals

And then there’s referrals from your existing customers and prospective customers. The first question to ask in this area is WHEN are the best times for engaging in a referral conversation. If you fail to identify the moments, you’ll miss all the opportunities there are for engaging people in a conversation about the potential to refer you. Here’s a big tip. The research indicates sooner is a better time to ask for a referral than later.

Once you’ve figured out WHEN you need to determine HOW you’ll engage customers in the referral conversation. Once again, a big tip here. If you’re not asking or you’re not turning asking into referrals, you need to review HOW you’re asking. You’re either not confident in asking or you’re asking the wrong way.

As a simple example of the impact this type of questioning can have, an Adviser I worked with in Canada was able to attribute $225 000 of additional annual revenue from just a single year of using a single strategy at the right time in the customer relationship.

There is major power in asking “Who can help me?” and taking it to the next level with the more detailed questions and exercises I’ve shared here.