Read an Excerpt
PERFECT PHRASES for SALES REFERRALS
Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Getting New Clients, Building Relationships, and Increasing Your Sales
By Jeb Brooks, Marty Scirratt
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013 McGraw-Hill Education, LLC
All rights reserved.
How a Referral-Based Business Can Work
To show you what's possible, we'd like to take a few pages to share a story about how one salesperson built a river of referrals.
Calvin's new boss approached him and reached out to shake his hand. "Calvin, I'm glad you're on our team. You've done well for your first month with us," he said.
Calvin's boss seemed to be a good sales manager. He appeared to have control over what was happening in his office and with his sales team. The new hire training class he led Calvin through over his first month had been intense. But like a lot of salespeople being holed up behind a desk for weeks, Calvin was ready to get out of the office and into the real world. He hadn't been told his agenda for his second month.
"I hope you've enjoyed your first month. I'm impressed with how quickly you picked up on our products. Coming into a new industry can take some getting used to. You deserve a relaxing weekend. Over the next week I want you to tag along with Sarah Miller, our number-one sales rep for the last four years. If there's anyone here in our sales organization who understands how to create sales, it's Sarah."
"What makes her so good?" Calvin asked, anticipating a complicated answer.
The boss exhaled deeply. This wasn't the first time he had been asked this question. And he knew exactly how to answer it, because he did know what made Sarah stand out from the rest of the sales team. The problem was, none of the new sales reps took his advice seriously. It wasn't that he was reluctant to tell Calvin Sarah's secret; rather, he was remembering the last four rookie reps who tagged along with her. It was like they had selective hearing.
The boss looked at Calvin, looked down at the floor, and looked up again, making sure Calvin was looking into his eyes. "Here's Sarah's secret. She never runs out of people and prospects to talk with. You've heard of the best salespeople having not only a stream but a whole river of referrals? She does. Understand, she's not the best when it comes to product information. She's not even my best closer. But she knows how to get the referrals. And more important, at least for her and our business, she knows how to convert those referrals into sales."
"Thanks, boss! I appreciate that you are letting me learn from the best," Calvin said enthusiastically. "Tell me, what's the one thing I want to be looking for as I tag along with Sarah during this next week?"
"That's a great question, Calvin. Asking good questions is a great start at being successful in sales. And I know exactly what you should be observing. But rather than just giving it to you, perhaps a better way for you to truly learn is for you to watch and think about it for the first couple of days with her. Then let's talk and see what you've discovered."
"Okay, then," Calvin agreed, a little surprised. He really wanted to be able to zero in on her secret. Now he would have to work a little harder for the answer. Regardless, though, he sensed that his next week was going to be quite a ride.
"I'll make sure Sarah knows you will be at her office at 8:30 Monday morning," the boss said. "And you'll find Sarah is punctual. I wouldn't be late, if I were you."
Calvin made sure he arrived a little early to meet Sarah on Monday morning. He wanted to make a good impression on her. After all, she was the number-one salesperson for the company. "Nothing like a little goodwill to start the week," he said to himself while walking into the sales office area. With new hire training in a different building, he had only been to his cubicle on the first day of his job.
He rounded the corner and saw his workspace for the second time. It seemed smaller than he remembered. Oh, well. As he turned his chair around to sit, he saw a note in the seat. "Meet me in Conference Room B at 8:30. I have a conference call to begin our week.—Sarah"
Looking around, he saw a wall of small conference rooms, all with four chairs around a large table. He walked past several conference rooms before arriving at B. Looking through the door's window, Calvin saw Sarah. Well, he saw her back. She was sitting in the chair nearest the door. Trying to be polite, Calvin knocked lightly. Sarah turned around, opened the door, and immediately reached out her hand and said, "You must be Calvin. I'm Sarah."
Introducing himself, Calvin accepted Sarah's invitation to sit as she began their discussion of his new role as her shadow salesperson.
She continued, "Welcome to the team. Our manager was quite impressed with you over the last four weeks and asked me to show you the ropes, so to speak. I'm glad you'll be with me. I have two rules for our time together. One, if I ask you to do something, you'll do it, and do it immediately. I don't want you to ask a ton of questions about why you should do something. Just do it. Then, after the task is done, you can ask all the questions you want.
"Second, you will work as hard as I do during our time together. You might believe that you're just along for the ride. That's not it at all. You are here to learn, and I've always believed the best way to learn is to do. So, if I'm working, I want you to be working. There won't be enough time for you to check on the status of your fantasy football team. Nor time for you to catch up on your friends' latest posts on Facebook. With that said, there is always time to communicate with your family or take care of emergencies. Any questions?"
Calvin stood there, a little stunned. Sarah was all business, a severe departure from the casual, laidback approach to sales training he'd experienced with past employers.
Realizing he hadn't replied, he assured her, "No, no questions. That sounds fair enough."
"Good," she answered. "Now, sit down here and let me show you what we're going to accomplish today."
Sarah appeared to be an excellent multitasker and made every second count. She was looking at something on her laptop, writing something on her legal pad, and looking at her tablet, all at the same time.
After a few minutes she looked up and said, "Every single business day, I write five note cards to people who for one reason or another could possibly become a prospect. Not sure if they will, but I'll never know until I make contact. Would you please pick five business cards from the box and hand them to me? I appreciate it."
Calvin didn't want to make a mistake with his first assignment. He pulled the small box toward him and looked inside. He couldn't believe what he saw. There must have been 1,000 business cards stacked to the lid, each one with notes scribbled all over the card.
Without thinking, Calvin opened his mouth and commented, "I don't know which ones to choose. Seems to me you would want to pick the five that are most qualified, wouldn't you?"
Sarah smiled. "I don't mean to be rude, but you just broke rules number 1 and 2. With all due respect, your job this week isn't to think out loud or to ask questions before you've done something I've requested. Simply do it. Thank you."
Calvin looked back down at the box. Wary of embarrassing himself further, he reached down and took five cards with no particular selection criteria in mind. "Here you go, Sarah. Didn't mean to fail your first assignment."
"That's okay," Sarah said with a smile. "You aren't the first rep who's done that, and you won't be the last. Now, I would like you to read to me the name on the card, where they work, and their title. Next please read the handwritten notes on the card. The comments will say things like who gave me the referral and how they are related or fit with the solutions I provide. Then, while I'm writing the note card, you can capture an image of the business card with my smartphone. It will translate the image into a contact in my suspect database. The only thing you need to add is the name of the person who referred me. Then set a reminder for me to send an e-mail to those contacts in five business days. Okay?"
Calvin agreed, pleased that he didn't say out loud what he was thinking. Why wasn't she just sending an e-mail to these referrals? That, it seemed to Calvin, would be a lot simpler.
Sarah interrupted his thoughts and said, "I'm ready for the first one. Whom do we have?"
Calvin looked at the five cards. Which do I pick first? he wondered silently. Something drew him to the second card on the left. He noticed the business title on the card: senior vice president. That seemed impressive enough.
Calvin read, "Bethany Stewart, senior VP at XYZ Corporation. Your notes say that she knows the manager at your dancing studio. Is that right?"
"Oh, yes, I remember the context. My husband and I are learning to ballroom dance at the local dance studio. The manager asked what I did and I told him. Just the other day he gave me that card you're holding and said he told Bethany about me, and she said to give her a call."
Calvin wanted to ask, Is that all there is to it? Getting these referrals? Telling your dance instructor what you do and referrals fall from the sky onto the dance floor?
Fortunately, he didn't. He simply took her smartphone, took a picture of the business card, logged her "to-do" in her calendar, and passed the card to Sarah, who clipped it to the note card she had just penned. Then she simply said, "Next!"
They performed that same procedure four more times, Sarah rhythmically going through the motions. It appeared to him that she was writing her note cards effortlessly. Curiously, she never paused to contemplate what she would write. She took each note card, and the ink began to flow.
When she finished writing the last card, she gave Calvin an appraising look. "You know, Calvin, I can tell you're a fast learner. Most of you new reps would have asked me which card to pick first or second out of the box. It's as though they are trying to determine which one has the best chance of becoming a new piece of business.
"The truth is, I've been doing this every day for almost four years, ever since I got here to this wonderful company. Here's what I've learned from doing this day in and day out for four years. It doesn't matter which card I do first or last. The point is to do something! Too many salespeople try to overthink how to get qualified prospects with the most efficiency, rather than trying to simply have enough people to speak with. There's a difference."
Calvin thought about what she had explained and said, "May I ask you one question?"
"Sure," she said, again with a smile. "What may I answer for you?"
"So tell me, Sarah," Calvin said, as sincerely as he could muster. "What is the one thing that I need to know so that I can have enough people to talk with? I'm guessing that one thing is one of the secrets of your success. Please forgive me for asking, but I humbly ask that you enlighten me."
"Flattery can only get you so far, but you do seem eager to learn!" Sarah quipped. "Okay, you want to know the one thing? Here it is—the one thing. The secret is simply this: One must earn one's referrals.
"Calvin, here's what I know," Sarah continued. "I'm not the smartest person or the funniest person or the most talented person in my job. I'd rank myself about average in brains and how-to. But what I do well is sincerely serve people. And that, over time, has made all the difference in the world for my business. Now, before we start talking too much theory, grab your keys. We have some appointments to make and you're driving!"
The rest of the day was a blur for Calvin. He had never witnessed anyone so fully engaged for eight full hours. She used every minute of the day talking with prospects, clients, coworkers, and peers on the phone, yet was always on time for her appointments, which seemed to be quick ones, never drawn out. She seemed as professional yet personable at the same time with everyone she encountered. At the end of the day, Sarah said she would meet him the next morning at the office at 8:30, just like this morning.
Calvin began to write down all the things he could remember Sarah doing that day that seemed different from anything he had done in his prior sales positions. After a few minutes he had several things on his list:
* Returns phone calls promptly
* Seems to ask everyone she speaks with, "What do you need?"
* Treats everyone the same, whether they're the SVP, their gatekeeper, or the server taking the lunch order
* Has the ability to really listen and repeat the words the person just said to her
* Everyone seems to ask for her advice
He looked at his list to see if he had missed anything. And then it came to him. With every person she encountered, she provided something of value to them, whether it was a kind word, a suggestion for a solution they were looking for, a name of someone who could help with a problem or concern they had, or as had happened twice today, two companies buying Sarah's products.
The next morning Calvin was 30 minutes early. Half of him was trying to impress his experienced colleague. The other half of him couldn't wait to ask her more questions. He headed straight for Conference Room B to join Sarah.
"Good morning, Sarah. I trust you had a good evening."
"I sure did, Calvin. And you?"
"Yes, I had a good evening. I must confess that I've been thinking about everything you said and what I learned yesterday."
"Well, Calvin, there will be plenty of time to talk about that. But first, we must repeat what we did yesterday. Pick five cards from the box."
As Calvin reached down, he glanced into the box and recognized two cards from yesterday's activities. "Hey, you put these cards from yesterday in the box. What determines whether a card is placed in the box or not?" It was an honest question that stumbled out without remembering rules number 1 or 2.
Sarah smiled but refused to answer. "Let's get our assignment done. Then I'll let you know."
Within 15 minutes Sarah had the five note cards completed. Calvin took pictures of the business cards. And just like yesterday, Sarah immediately had that rhythm. Before Calvin could finish his coffee, they were out the door for the second day.
Common Language and Direct Value Statements
Throughout this book, we use some terms that are important for you to understand, and so, we are taking a few pages to define each. In a book like this, authors and readers should be on the same page, and we believe that a shared understanding of the specific terminology is a critical part of that agreement.
Connector: The source of a referral. This person provides you with the name and, ideally, an introduction to a potential source of business. For example, if you are selling website development services and a satisfied client refers you to his uncle's construction company, the satisfied client is your connector.
Referral: The person to whom the connector introduces you. This is the person who becomes a prospect. In the website developer example, your client's uncle is the referral.
Nonclient: A person or business that has not bought from you. Your list of nonclients includes everyone who might possibly buy from you, but has not yet done so. This might be a competitor of one of your current clients, for example.
Suspect: Someone to whom you would like to sell, but who has not yet expressed interest in your offering. If you attend a trade show, it is likely that most of the attendees are suspects.
Prospect: A person who is a slightly more interested suspect. In the trade show example again, the attendees who stop and visit your booth are prospects. See qualified prospect.
Qualified Prospect: Someone who has (1) a recognized need for your offering, (2) the ability and authority to buy from you, (3) a relative sense of urgency to buy what you sell, (4) a high level of trust in you or your organization, and (5) a willingness to listen to you.
Customer: A person or company that buys from you. Customers can be sources of referrals. For information on how to earn those referrals, refer to Part II of this book.
Client: A person or company with whom you have developed a professional, trust-based relationship. A client repeatedly buys from you. Clients are valuable sources of referrals because you have a deeper relationship with them than with your customers. For information on how to earn those referrals, refer to Part II of this book.
Zealot: A person who is so enthusiastic about you, your company, or your offering that he or she readily advocates on your behalf to potential referrals. This person becomes a connector who needs no prompting.
Perceived Benefits: The advantages that your prospect and/or customer believes he or she will receive by taking whatever action you are asking them to take. For example, if you buy a tablet computer, one perceived benefit is that you will be able to use it anywhere you go. We discuss perceived benefits in detail in Chapter 3.
Perceived Emotional Cost: The disadvantages that your prospect and/or customer believes he or she will face by taking whatever action you are asking them to take. For example, if you buy a tablet computer, one perceived emotional cost is the purchase price. Another is learning to use it. We discuss perceived emotional cost in detail in Chapter 3.
The Direct Value Statement
There is another term that is so important, it requires more than a simple definition: the Direct Value Statement (DVS). When you meet new connectors—or anyone for that matter—the way you describe the value you offer (the value you plan to ask a connector to refer to another, for example) determines whether you are referable. The most effective tool available to help you in this regard is the DVS.
Excerpted from PERFECT PHRASES for SALES REFERRALS by Jeb Brooks. Copyright © 2013 by McGraw-Hill Education, LLC. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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