If you have ever taken a CPR class or any type of emergency training, the first thing they teach you NOT to say is “Somebody call an Ambulance.” Why would first responders train someone NOT to say “SOMEBODY CALL AN AMBULANCE!”
Somebody is not specific, somebody can be anyone… and most certainly doesn’t mean me. The real training goes something like this; Point to one person and tell them what you need. Point to one person and tell them; “You, call an Ambulance.” Point to another person and tell them; “You, get some help.”
Being specific gets things done. Asking for something specific gets better results. Why am I saying this in a marketing blog? While what we do isn’t life and death, lessons can be learned from CPR training. I would like you to think about the last time you asked for a referral. If you are like most sales people, the question was phrased something like this; “Do you know someone else that I could talk to?”
First, the sales person should be complimented on the fact they even asked the question. They are already ahead of 90 percent of sales people who never ask the referral question. Often, the way you ask the question will make the difference between a couple seconds of awkward silence and a qualified lead.
Research shows very few customers are willing to open their database or even share a few names when asked any type of referral question. Do yourself a favor, don’t ask for that. Ask for one person. I typically phrase the referral question like this: “Who is the one person who could benefit most from a conversation like this?”
After asking this question, I have a very difficult task, I have to shut up and wait. For sales people this is a Herculean feat. We are so used to talking, so used to controlling the conversation that even a few seconds of silence can seem like an eternity. Resist the urge to break the silence; the first one to talk… loses.
Asking for one person is very different than asking for anyone. Just like that first responder, you are pointing and saying; “You, give me one name.”
The next step in this process is less critical, but can shorten the selling cycle. After I get one name, I orchestrate the handoff. My favorite way to make the handoff is the joint email. I ask my customer if they would be comfortable sending that one person an email and copying me on the email.
I ask them if they would be willing to say we are working together and what a great conversation we just had. They should go on to say that it would be a good idea if the two of us connect. I then ask my customer why they think this one person would be a good fit and to tell me a little about them.
I use this information as part of my first conversation with my new lead and schedule time to talk. If everything goes the way I hope, my lead becomes a new customer, and then they are sending a joint email to my next “new customer.”