YOU’RE TREATING REFERRALS ALL WRONG
Insights from Chief Mastermind Jack Kelly
Do you like getting referrals? Of course! A referral is the best way to be introduced to a potential client. Someone they trust told them to talk to you about your services or products. A third party tells them how great your company is and that you can deliver at a high level. It is a sales professional’s dream.
When you meet the prospect, it feels like you know them already because a trusted colleague referred you. They may even say to you, “Gerry tells me you are the best I.T. services company for the job.” Our guard is immediately lowered, the banter goes back and forth and it is a relaxed meeting.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
This is where it can go terribly wrong. Why? Both you and the prospective customer are too relaxed. The normal care you would take with a prospect doing a detailed evaluation of their needs, clearly explaining your company and its offerings, ensuring all the buyers who are should be involved are involved, objectively evaluating the information exchanged to come up with the best solution – are, at best, glossed over.
From the selling side, you want to make it easy. You don’t want to be “difficult” by requiring the prospective customer to answer too many questions. They expect this to be “painless” – one of the most dangerous words in sales.
Shortly after they come on as a client, a feature of your service that they assumed they were getting, is not included in the pricing. Your lack of diligence in the sales process has cost you. You go to your boss and ask for a price concession since it was referred to you. She reluctantly says yes. All is good again. Later you find out they expected 24-hour access to service. This was not part of the deal and something you can’t negotiate. For them it is mission critical. You now have a painful conversation with the customer and they are wondering why their friend thought your company was so great.
Statistics Back This Up
The Corlea Group has surveyed tens of thousands of customers and we see this pattern in the data across industries: There is a significant percentage of customers who were referred who are concerned about their relationship. How does this impact your business? You get less referrals in the future, and potentially, an unhappy client who is telling other prospects how unhappy they are with you. The effect is exponential.
Treat Referrals the Right Way
To solve this, don’t cut corners. Let referrals know that to bring them on successfully as a customer, you need to do a thorough evaluation and need to talk to all of the buyers involved – for their benefit. Over communicate. Let them know you are doing this BECAUSE they were referred to you by a trusted colleague. If they are not willing to do it, chances are they are not going to be a good client.
By not doing this, you are risking way more than just one account. If you do it, you are setting yourself up for more referrals from the person who originally referred them and your happy new customer.