What if you were hungry and forgot to look in your refrigerator – you were just too busy dealing with issues that have come up, and helping existing customers, calling prospects, and looking for prospects?
That is what happens when it comes to sellers and even sales leaders.
You have incredible connections from over the past ___ years you’ve been in your industry or have been a business professional in multiple industries. You have built up trust, and people know and like you.
However, you don’t follow up with them in a planned manner. You run into these folks sometimes at an industry conference – you might drop a note if you see something they said in a social community you’re in online.
There is no rhyme or reason as to when you connect.
BAD business strategy, folks!
This week I talked to someone who has been in his industry for over 10 years. He told me he has a list of 300 consultants and people who know his industry. He hung his head and said to me that he never connects with them.
I told him that’s like letting the best food money can buy rot in your refrigerator.
We know that referral business closes better and faster than any other means of selling, yet we don’t have a planned way to execute a strategy to connect to these most important contacts of ours.
Here are ideas to help you grow your referral network and make it a vibrant, connected, interactive one:
Go through your LinkedIn contacts, your CRM, Twitter, and any other “container” you have where potential partners and referrers are. Create ONE list in one place that will be the best from here on out. For me, that would be my social CRM platform because as I add partners, all of their social media is pulled into their record.
Think about who is missing? Who are thought leaders in your industry or in business in general that eventually could be a mutual referral partner? Add them in.
Now find a way to break this group into manageable pieces. For me, that would be 10 of these folks per week to contact in the mode that I am most comfortable with – by telephone.
10 contacts per week equals 520 per year. If you have less than 200, you might try to contact 4-5 per week.
When you talk with them, ask them what is new with THEM, rather than focusing the call on what is new with YOU.
Have a good conversation and then update your notes on what IS new with them. Over time you can hone in on more and more that is important in their world and your conversations will be helpful and relevant.
Let them know what you are excited about – such as,
“We have started a new cabling program with amazing results – big name companies are working with us more and more, like __ and ___.”
“We just installed a big project with ___. They didn’t know that we did __ and so it turned into a much bigger opportunity and what appears to be a fantastic reference account.”
Note that I am not “selling” my referral partner – simply informing them more about what we do without making it a laundry list – I’m focusing on my clients and what THEY say.
If you can create this list and keep contacting people down the list, you WILL grow your sales opportunities with easier, quicker referred business.
The cornucopia of business delicacies awaits you – get started!
Image credit: monticello / 123RF Stock Photo
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.