What is the key to driving more leads into your pipeline? How does prospecting become something you enjoy—not a chore? Joanne Black believes it’s through referral-driven lead generation. It’s a game-changer that most salespeople don’t know how to properly employ. Joanne shares the details in this episode of Sales Reinvented. Don’t miss it!
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling, a sales contrarian, and the author of No More Cold Calling and Pick Up the Damn Phone! She works with sales organizations to build a referral culture, ensure a qualified pipeline, and get the one-call meeting.
Joanne uses a referral selling system that includes strategy, metrics, skills, and accountability. Every salesperson loves referrals. The conversion rate is more than 50%. What they’re usually missing is a reliable process where metrics are set to get referrals. Joanne notes that sales leaders think they’re doing a good job with referrals. But the reality is that referrals are few and far between.
So she points out that they’re not leveraging one area that would be a game-changer: When you talk about lead generation, who is better to refer to you than your clients? You’ve built relationships with them. Your business, product, or service has helped them achieve results. The problem is that they don’t know what to do and salespeople don’t know how to ask.
You have to start with a strategy around referral selling. What outcome do you expect? You have to be committed to making referrals your #1 outbound approach. You have to measure it, set KPIs, build the skills of your sales team, and teach them how to ask for a referral and get an introduction. Then you make sure they’re accountable to a result. Because without accountability, nothing changes.
You need to be relationship builders—not sales pitchers. Salespeople pitch and cold email in every means possible. But we already know that pitches don’t work. It’s why the sales profession has gotten a bad name. Customers buy because of the relationship and trust they have with you. Without a relationship, the rest doesn’t matter. The research shows that trust is important but only 18% of buyers said they trust salespeople.
If a client agrees to refer someone to you, you help walk them through what that process looks like. Typically, they call or email their connection and say “I’d love for you to talk to Paul Watts, and here’s why…” This person will trust your client, trust that they won’t waste their time, and that they’re a credible resource. The trust transfers to you.
Good salespeople also need patience, persistence, and a good contact strategy. How are you going to stay in touch? What insights can you share?
Joanne emphasizes that you need LinkedIn skills. LinkedIn is a place to begin a conversation and build a relationship—not to pitch. She recommends sending a personalized invitation to make a personal connection. It’s also a great place to begin insightful conversations if you’re really good at asking questions. There is so much news coming in and so many things to talk about. What is going on that you can educate yourself on so you can engage in conversation with your prospect? You build an amazing relationship, learn what they’re looking for, and schedule the next call.
A sales VP came to Joanne with a problem. She needed to drive revenue faster. So what did Joanne recommend? That they implement a referral system. In less than two months of implementing the new lead generation system, they drove 26 opportunities into their CRM. Joanne points out that it reinforces the fact that people aren’t systematically getting referrals. There’s a huge opportunity to close the gap with referral-driven selling. Listen to this episode of Sales Reinvented to learn more!
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