I have read a blog today that I thought would be a good topic for a sales debate. It is about referral practices. The author Paul McCord (@paul_mccord) states in the blog that referrals will lead your business into risk. I know that some of you automatically raise your left eyebrow at this statement. We use to get referrals to increase sales but he says that this could happen if the client isn’t well experienced in the industry. The usual problem will occur once they keep on referring yet not doing their part well. Judge the blog itself by reading it completely. I am sharing everything he had written below.
Building Your Business on Referrals Pt. 2: Asking for Referrals is Bad Practice
By Paul McCord
OK, I know, you’ve been told your entire life as a salesperson that you have to ask for referrals and that if you don’t you’ll fail. But if you’re like most sellers you’ve asked and on occasion get a name and phone number of someone that turns into a new client, but most of the time the names and numbers you get are about as targeted as taking a dart and throwing blindly at the phone book.
The above situation is so common that a great many sellers simply stop asking, thinking that referrals are nothing more than sales mythology, while others, thinking they are the cause of the failure to generate significant numbers of quality referrals, continue to ask with little success and a growing sense of frustration and failure.
The reality isn’t that generating quality referrals are nothing more than a myth or that the seller himself is the root cause of referral generation failure.
Referral generation fails primarily because of the way most sellers have been taught to seek referrals. The seller isn’t the problem; the strategy they’ve been taught is at fault.
How have most of us been taught to get referrals?
For the most part out referral training consists of nothing more than “do a good job for your client and ask for referrals with a question such as, ‘Mr. Prospect, do you know anyone else who I might be able to help as I’ve helped you,’ or ‘Ms. Prospect, do you know of anyone who might benefit from my products or services?’
Certainly on occasion the training may be a bit more in-depth—one trainer might encourage sellers to ask the question early in the sale while another stresses the need to ask only after the sale has been completed, or one trainer might use slightly different phraseology or might encourage the seller to ask for a specific number of referrals, but the essence of the training is the same—do a good job and ask for referrals.
The problem is the process taught causes more problems than it solves.
First, the good news—the traditional referral training solves a major problem—it encourages the seller to seek referrals. Although the success ratio is typically very low, it does produce the occasional prospect that turns into a client.
Now the bad news—it fritters away one of the most valuable business generation resources a seller has—the potential quality referrals from a satisfied client.
Let’s take a look at the primary problems the traditional referral “method” creates:
- The Referral Question Comes Out of the Blue: Most clients are not comfortable when put on the spot to give referrals. When we ask for a referral we may be thinking that we’re asking a small favor but most clients take the request far more seriously. When a client gives a referral they believe they are putting their reputation on the line, something most don’t do lightly. Clients need time to become comfortable with the idea of giving referrals. If we really want quality referrals, we have to allow our client the time to become comfortable with the idea of giving us referrals before we ask.
- We Don’t Give Our Client the Opportunity to Give Quality Referrals: When we follow the traditional training of “do a good job and ask for referrals” we literally stand in front of our client (or are holding on the phone) expecting them to pop off the names of great prospects for us. We are asking them to go through their mental file cabinet and come up with great referrals in the course of 10 or 15 seconds. That is simply an unrealistic expectation on our part and we usually get what we deserve when we put a client in that position—little to nothing of value.
- Our Client Doesn’t Know Who a Great Prospect for Us Is: Not only do we expect our client to be able to give great referrals just off the top of their head, we expect them to know exactly who we can help when much of the time our client hasn’t had the opportunity to fully appreciate what we’ve done for them, much less know what all of our capabilities are and who is really a top prospect for us. We’re asking our client to do the impossible—know our business as well as we know it.
- It Ignores Human Nature: The traditional referral request is one-sided and offers the client no reason to give referrals. There are, obviously, clients who will give referrals even when there is nothing in it for them, but human nature being what it is, the referral request can be far more successful if it can be shown that it benefits the client as well as the seller.
- It Makes the Client do the Work: Rather than making it easy for our clients to give us great referrals, we make it as difficult as possible by asking them to do something they are ill prepared–and often not inclined–to do. Giving high quality referrals should be so easy for our client that literally all they have to do is say “yes.”
Although referral generation as traditionally taught is laden with self-defeating issues, referral generation when practiced properly can be a highly successful business generation tool—one that can literally be the cornerstone of a successful business.
I know that some of you if not all ask for a referral to our clients but after reading this blog, how does it change your perspective? Are you still going to ask for it or not? What is your experience in asking for a referral? You can agree or disagree, your comments are expected below!
I love reading blogs and it is so funny that I can relate to every blog I’ve read. There are things that we already know but didn’t need it for a moment and get reminded that we do now. We have heard of sales perks, whether we are salesman or the buyer. This is very familiar to us and very beneficial too! Let us remind ourselves on how this thing can affect our sales. Here is a blog from Changing Minds entitled “Valuable giveaways”. I can relate to that because I am a seller and at the same time a buyer.
One of the ways of persuading people is to give them something for free. Because then the exchange principle says they are obliged to do something for you in return. In fact you can ask for something worth much more than the value of your ‘gift’.
A typical way this happens is when people give you something on the street (such as a flower) and then ask for a ‘donation’ in return (or even somehow convert a gift into a flat-price sale). Charities (and others) have picked up on this and begging letters that come through your door may well include a free pen. Hey, look, you can even use it to fill in the donation form.
Another, different way this principle is used appeared through my door this week. I subscribe to a monthly computer (PC Advisor). I started years ago with a ‘free trial’ offer and am still suckered in. It’s ok really as I use the magazine to keep up with what’s new in the marketplace.
Anyway, let’s get to the point. The magazine comes with a free DVD full of trial software. This month, however, it was very slightly different. In the top right corner was an orange triangle (grabs the eye) with the words ‘DVD worth £117′ in it. The magazine has always had other monetary value statements and this was no different with a black circle lower down with ‘free full program worth £35′ marking a bit of utility software.
But I’ve always pretty much ignored the £35 sign and usually quickly scan it for anything useful and throw it away if not. But this time I hesitated and put it on the table next to me. Why was this?
Apart from the more attractive use of colour (orange rather than red), the £117 sign breaks the £100 barrier, at which I start to think ‘hey, that’s a lot of money’. Throwing it away hence seems like throwing away lots of money. So if I leave it there, I am more likely to install the ‘free’ programs. Which actually are mostly things like a ‘three month trial’. And before long, I could get sucked in, just as I was when ‘trying out’ the magazine, many years ago.
Hmm. Excuse me a minute. … There. I have now put temptation firmly in the bin!
We are using our emotions when we are buying and this is so true here. Once the person offers us something for free, we felt that we are obliged to bring back the kindness, so we are really an emotional buyer, aren’t we? Leave your comment below!
I have here another great blog which you can relate. This blog is posted by DH/Theo of Sales Grail Team (@SalesGrail). The author states his opinion regarding his observation on how inside sales rep or sales people perform in dealing with clients. Although they are very intelligent, they look like otherwise. This is very painful to see. Although, the title said “Sell More Without Working Harder”, the author did not tell us how to do it. Maybe it is up to you. You should think carefully what should be done not to be like them. It is like telling you to get out of mediocrity.
Sell More Without Working Harder
How many times have you seen someone in your office or on your sales team that is going about things the wrong way? I’m sure you see it all the time, it’s part of working with a diverse group of people. It’s harder when you see someone you know who is smart, intelligent, and skilled acting like an amateur – in some cases a novice. It drives me crazy! Why are they succumbing to average?
Are these sales professionals making a choice to be mediocre? They’re clearly skilled in sales techniques, yet they take shortcuts which leads to lost sales and profits.
When trying to work with someone like this I find the first response is the “yes” mentality. They typically agree with you on everything you say and commit to making changes and doing their best. I walk away from these conversations hoping rather than believing they’re committed to being a pro. Sure enough, little to no changes take place.
The second stage is indignation and overly bold justifications for their actions. A typical response is, “Hey, this is how I sell! It works and I’m implementing best practices at times, but it’s not easy when you get busy or when leads are down…”(blame, blame, blame). When confronted with the truth (their lagging sales numbers), salespeople can tend to lash out and justify rather than face the reality to see what can be done.
Interestingly, during these sales training discussions, sales people think they’re being asked to put in more hours. They’re not – they could probably work less. With simple changes and sticking to the basics, these sales people can sell more without doing anymore work.
My question is this – what is the next step? How do you get through to this sales person? How can you get a seasoned salesperson to realize they could be getting better results with the SAME amount of work or LESS with some focus and avoiding shortcuts? As a sales professional reading this, what would you do?
Thanks for reading,
Does this article hit you? If so what are your plan of actions to get away from this? If you are not one of these people, what are your strategies to sell more without working hard? This is very important thing to be learned so I am looking forward to your opinions.
What are you using when doing your monthly report? If you are using Salesforce then I have great news for you! Salesforce (@salesforce) now has what they called “joined report” format which will make your business reporting 3 times faster and easier. Doing monthly report will help us to determine our gains and losses and help us decide what is our next step to increase sales. To know how the new system works, here’s the blog written by Mrina Natarajan. She has videos and illustrations that will make it easier for you to understand it! We want everything to be easy for you.
Get a Complete View of Your Sales Pipeline with Joined Reports
By Mrina Natarajan
In your sales organization, you want to know how business is doing this month. You’d like to know metrics such as opportunities created, deals closed, and deals closing next month. While in the past you had to create three separate reports in Salesforce, now, you can get all this data in one report by using the joined report format.
Here’s how to get the data with a joined report:
Example: Create a joined report with multiple views
- Let’s start with a basic opportunities report and change it to the joined format.
- Add three blocks. Drag and drop “Opportunity Owner” and “Amount” fields in each block. Each block shows a different view of the business so that decision makers can quickly assess and draw insights at a glance. Label the blocks “Created,” “Closed (Won),” and “Closing next month.”
- As with other report formats, you can filter, summarize, and group fields. Filter each block by date range or opportunity status as appropriate.
- Summarize the Amount column in each block, and group the results by “Opportunity Owner” (sales rep).
Now what if you wanted to report on data from not one but several report types — multiple objects in other words? Joined report is still the way to go. Take the following example.
Example: Combine data in a joined report from multiple report types
As a salesperson, you want to gauge the health of your accounts while prepping for customer calls. You’ll need a report that looks at different opportunity and case records for each account. We’ll pull in data from three objects.
To begin, create an accounts report. Then, add data from the Opportunities report type and Cases report type. You’re able to add data for Opportunities and Cases objects because they’re related to Accounts, which is a common parent object. See how each report type that you add is its own block.
We’ll create four blocks, each showing a different facet of the account.
- In the accounts block, add the “Employees” column and summarize by max, which gives you maximum value of the Employees column.
- Create an opportunities block showing the lifetime value of the account. Calculate the sum of “Amount” and set “Opportunity Status” to “Closed Won.”
- Show the open opportunity pipeline in the next block. Set Opportunity Status to “Open” and get the sum of Amount.
- In the last block, show open cases with “Case Owner,” “Subject,” and “Age” columns. Filter by “Status” “not equal to” “Closed” to just see the open cases.
There’s more you can do with joined reporting. For example, you can create summary formulas to calculate additional totals on number fields for one report type or create cross-block formulas to get totals for number fields across different report types.
To recap: Joined reports let you report across multiple data sets in a single report. See related data from multiple report types, or see different views of data from the same report type. Joined reports are available to you in Enterprise, Unlimited, and Developer editions.
Reporting consume too much of our time and effort. Good thing that there are some tools that we can use to make our reports easier and faster. How long does it take you to make your monthly report? What tools are you using? You can share it here so that our fellow sales people can have a choice.
Are you looking for sales tool software? You might be interested with SugarCRM (@sugarcrm) tool. Why? Simply because it ensures the entrepreneur success with their innovative software. What’s great is you can have it within reasonable cost! Availing the modern business solution is not risky and it can pay back more than what you have invest on it. The tool offered enables you unlimited business partner. You will never leave behind as the software will continue to develop to meet the demand of competitive era. In return, your business will never be stagnant and will also continue to develop. You are always on the right track with this dynamic sales software. Come and read the entire blog below if you are interested!
Business Insider says you can bet your career on SugarCRM
Have you ever read something in the newspaper or seen it on the evening news and though, “well, heck! Why is this news? I knew that!”
We kind of felt that way when we read that SugarCRM was among the “25 Enterprise Startups to Bet Your Career On” in Business Insider. But, of course, we here have some inside information.
Not to blow our own horns… Well, okay. We’re going to blow our own horns. With a growing list of partners, an ever expanding galaxy of customers and an engineering team that’s focused on delivering on the idea of CRM for everyone, we’re doing important work in making CRM a tool for the entire business instead of a point solution for sales or support. And, by building a platform that integrates easily with other applications, we’re giving customers the freedom to build their own software ecosystems and the ability to make it work with a minimum of cost and hassle.
The companies on this list is impressive and include Box.net and Good Data – which already integrate with Sugar, giving us another leg up.
Want to join the team? Take a peek at Sugar’s career page and see how you can place your bet on SugarCRM.
It is given that the right attitude towards an entrepreneur success is the willingness to try everything to get his business goal. The confidence that you can achieve your goal can motivate you to work hard and makes you not afraid to take a little risk. Does this tool interest you?
To your success!
I’ve got here a very outspoken blog about the reality of learning. This blog does not talk about school academics. This blog discussed the influence of internet over education which Mr. Keith Ferrazzi (@keithferazzi) addresses as informal manner of learning. The self-analysis here is triggered. The topic is even helpful for people to explore on new things that will improve their lives no matter what industry you are in. Anything about sales can also be learned through the internet like inside sales techniques and the like. You do not need to take a four year course about marketing just to be a successful salesman. Read the entire blog below.
Informal Learning Is Thriving Online
In my last post, I encouraged everyone to become intentional about pursuing the 70 percent of our learning that comes frominformal interactions outside of the training room or classroom. But how do you do that, given the old, informal learning ecosystem that revolved around your manager is on life support? Part of the answer is to seek out informal learning online.
It might seem that online learning is actually a better replacement for formal, classroom learning. More and more formal learning spaces are making the virtual jump each day, as schools and universities realize that it’s a more cost-effective use of their resources. And studies have shown that online learning is as effective as classroom learning. So how does informal learning, the kind of productive conversations that happen over muffins or around the office water cooler, happen in the online environment?
The power of self-reflection
A 2009 U.S. Department of Education report that rolled up more than 1,000 empirical research studies on online learning over a 12-year period concluded that online learning works better than in-person learning in terms of self-reflection, self-regulation and self-monitoring. That would certainly lend itself to informal learning, where you’re in charge and it’s up to you to curate your own curriculum and seek out the information you need.
It turns out we do a better job analyzing and critiquing our own behavior and our own learning when we do it online as opposed to in person. We also regulate and evaluate our own work better than we do in a physical environment. We’re more productively driven toward our own learning processes, which leads to more positive outcomes. Self-reflection is critical to any learning experience and such reflection is easier in a virtual environment. We can easily review our work, even the work it takes to form relationships: We can go back over emails, see how recipients responded to them, review comment threads – generally, see where we’ve been and where we are going. This self-reflection, stimulated by interactions with others, improves our learning.
Even teachers handle informal learning better online
A recent study corroborated the power of online informal learning when it studied the professional development of teachers in four different environments: formal online learning; informal online learning; formal professional-development seminars; and informal learning happening in the teachers’ lounge. The informal virtual setting was a forum that the teachers used to communicate with each other. The study showed that teachers learned the most from online environments, and they felt the most positiveabout the informal interactions. They had warmer feelings about their interactions with their peers online than they did about their informal interactions with the very same people in the break room.
Challenging and coaching themselves and their community proved easier online. They formed more explicit coaching relationships, where one person would take it upon him or herself to lead others through a learning process, and where everyone felt comfortable challenging and critiquing each other.
Choosing the right technology is important
Facebook and Twitter can yield positive results. If you have friends, mentors or former teachers or bosses on Twitter, follow them and direct-Tweet them to begin constructive discussions that ignite informal learning and help close soft and hard skills gaps. You can also form a Facebook group of trusted friends, colleagues and mentors. Learning a complex body of knowledge requires a community of learners; online technologies, such as social media, can be used to cultivate and support these communities with emotional and professional guidance and encouragement.
Group forums, where topics are discussed in threads, are also a good way to engage informally online (that’s how the teachers did it). Chatting, or instant messaging online, works as well because talking with others is conducive to deep learning.
Beware of trying to recreate the face-to-face experience precisely. Video chat such as Skype can be frustratingly choppy and is a poor substitute for actual human interaction. Make the most of what online technologies uniquely offer, such as allowing asynchronous conversations and the time to reflect before answering.
And don’t engage online anonymously. When people own up to their own identities, it forces them to take the responsibility to be self-reflective.
Keep the differences in mind
To be successful in online informal learning, be cognizant how your approach to professional relationships is different online. Are you reflecting about how you present yourself online? Are you finding yourself rereading and reflecting on online messages? Are you connecting with, and learning from, your peers in the virtual space? If you are, you’ll be well on your way toward becoming a successful informal learner online.
More people can gain knowledge through informal learning or the internet. The online learning content is more appreciated by many as it is very accessible such as Sales E-book which features different modules. What do you think about this kind of education? Do you like it or do you prefer the old style or learning?
How are you doing? I have here a blog that a sales manager should read. This blog is written by S. Anthony Iannarino (@iannarino) which talks about sales person recognition. Some of the sales manager often thinks that they are on higher level and the sales agents are just their subordinates. Treating your sales agent as an ordinary employee has an impact on his performance and this is not good for the company. These people have a quota to reach so it is important that they are highly motivated. They bring sales to the company so they must be treated fairly. The incentive scheme is quite effective in recognizing their hard work. So here’s how the author state his opinion.
Underestimating the Value of Being a Great Salesperson
By S. Anthony Iannarino
You have a great offering. Your competitor also has a great offering.
You have a tried and true sales process. Your competitor has a tried and true sales process, too.
You are using the latest and greatest sales methodology. Your competitor is also using the shiny new “new” thing.
Your sales force automation is a modern marvel. Everything you use is integrated into a beautiful, sleek interface with custom dashboards. Your competitor’s SFA is a dead ringer for yours. Only the company logo is different.
You are equipped with the best technology that money can buy. Well, how about that. Ditto your competitor; they’re equally well equipped.
The Difference: You.
We tend to overestimate the impact of some things on sales results and greatly underestimate what’s most important. In any sales organization where the above statements are true, they’re true for every salesperson on the sales team. That means the difference in results is something else, even in your sales organization.
The difference that makes a difference is you, the salesperson. It’s helpful to have a great offering, an effective sales process, good methodologies, and great technology. But it isn’t a substitute for the value created by a great salesperson sitting face-to-face with their dream client.
If you want to improve something that will immediately and irrevocably improve your sales results, you start with the greatest asset you will ever have for producing results: You. You becoming the best ever version of yourself will do more to improve your sales results than anything else.
What do you substitute for developing your sales skills?
What accounts for the difference in sales results between salespeople in the same organization? Different organizations?
If you could change one thing that would massively improve your results, what would you change?
How much does the salesperson account for in the decision to buy?
Let the employee feel that they are part of business and not just personnel who will do the command. It will degrade them and feel that they can’t do anything without your advice at all times. The initiative to respond in work at their very best will be eradicated once you put on their mind that they do not know anything without you. It is very time consuming also to dictate to them what to do every now and then, right?