Q: How important are referrals in the modern B2B sales process?
A: Could be the difference between hitting quota or not…Here are 4 stats that might interest you:
- 84% percent of buyers kick off their buying process with a referral.
- Nine in 10 buying decisions are made with peer recommendations.
- 92% of buyers trust referrals from people they know.
- After a positive experience, 83% of customers would be happy to provide a referral. But salespeople just aren’t asking — only 29% of customers end up giving a referral.
And we’ve seen that last stat within our own user group here at Bravado. A number of Bravado sellers are concerned that asking for referrals will come off as needy, selfish, or bothersome to the customer. One person kept asking: “What’s in it for the customer?”
We realized that we needed a guide on how to ask for a referral, and started having conversations with top reps who were already using Bravado to get a bunch of referrals. One of those conversations turned into a gem that we had to share from the legendary Kevin Walkup, head of enterprise sales at Salesloft and top Bravado Seller. Here are Kevin’s insider tips on how to make 2018 the Year of the Referral for you!
When is the best time to ask for a referral?
There is never a bad time to ask for a referral. Ask often and always.
How do I ask for a referral?
There are several ways to ask for a referral without coming across as needy or pushy. Be yourself. It should never sound needy. It should sound like you want to help that person and people in their network. “I would love to earn your business. I don’t need your business.”
Monthly/quarterly check-ins let you honestly convey what you’ve enjoyed about working with that particular buyer and how you’re proud of the results delivered. Then finish by asking for an intro to a peer that might find similar value… Why would they say no?
After monthly/quarterly check-in:
“Hi Sahil, It’s been a pleasure working with you over the last month and I am super excited to help you improve the number of qualified prospects in your pipeline. Getting to know you, it seems like you’re connected to a lot of people in the space and probably share best practices among your peer group. Who in your network would you recommend I that I speak with about Salesloft?”
You can also try a more direct and to the point approach:
“Hey prospect/influencer/customer/vendor, I would love an intro to one modern sales leader today. Who do you know that might find value from Salesloft?”
But don’t limit yourself to just asking for referrals from customers. If you are giving a demo to a prospect, and it seems that there isn’t a fit right now, try to get a referral:
“It looks like Salesloft doesn’t quite line up with the immediate challenges that your organization is faced with. I pride myself on only selling to customers that are going to be successful with our offering. But given our conversation today, does anyone in your network come to mind that where our solution may better align with their current challenges?”
Remember, it’s about staying connected with your network. A great tip I learned from John Barrows to stay top of mind with previous clients is to send relevant and valuable content and eventually you can ask them for a referral:
“Hey Sahil, just read this awesome post about artificial intelligence. I remember you telling me you were intrigued by AI, so, naturally, I thought of you. Hope you’re doing well.”
Referrals come from treating all buyers the right way. You never know what can happen in the future. Recently, I received a referral from a buyer that I pitched (but never sold to) over a year ago. Even though this buyer never bought from me, I always gave them a 5-star experience and put their needs first over myself (or my quota). Having done that, they thought of me first when making a Salesloft recommendation, and this referral came to me without having to ask. The best kind of referral! It doesn’t always happen this way though. The bottom line here is — You have to ask!
My advice for salespeople that may be timid to ask for referrals:
You don’t get referrals if you don’t ask for them! Be confident in yourself, your product, and your relationships.
I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and start asking your clients for referrals. It's easy to do using Bravado. You’ll thank me for this when you realize the power of referral-based selling!
Kevin Walkup is the Head of Enterprise Sales at SalesLoft. An enthusiastic and customer-centric seller, Kevin provides a consultative and hands-on approach with his clients. “Positive energy is contagious, and I bring it to every environment that I am in. Treat everyone like they have a 10 on their head!”