Referrals – The Holy Grail of Sales – Who You Know or What You Know?

Referrals –  The Holy Grail of Sales – Who You Know or What You Know?

As a sales trainer and coach, I am so lucky to meet what I think are some of the finest and most talented salespeople. Working in sales in not easy, and the expectations placed on them by the people that manage them can be overwhelming especially in terms of selling on profitability, or volume or just getting the money in.

Referral Centres of Influence

One of the key tools that a sales person has at their disposal is their network and what I call their ‘centres of influence’. These networks are mostly made up connections, existing clients, lapsed clients, potential clients, professional friends and even past and current colleagues. The centres of influence however, are those connections that are so well connected that they open doors easily and are happy to do so for everyone they are connected too and this includes the sales person. They do this by actively using social media to share others content, retweeting activity, by posting content that is engaging and promoting people to others e.g. #FF Follow Friday on Twitter is very powerful indeed. Furthermore they attend events, and participate in the marketplace, showing their face, shaking a hand, pressing a card and making even more connections.

The relationship building sales person needs to work on being well connected as they have no problem joining the dots between their networks and name-dropping in order to demonstrate their connectedness and therefore winning business. This can even evolve into the holy grail of sales development, the referral.

Why do people refer?

The question as to why people refer is simple. The client has clearly had an exceptional value and service and feels confident that this can be replicated within their own network, so they actively advocate and recommend at any given time. Are they doing this just to network though or is it because what the sales person knew was really good and added true value to their business? After all, knowledge is power right? As a trainer my job is to deliver these elements of skill and knowledge to help equip people to do their job. I have to be well informed, credible and be able to back up what I am training with evidence that proves it works and can get results. So, probably this latter point plays a big role, but these people couldn’t refer if they didn’t have a network to refer to.

The referral chain

There is of course another layer of referral. We know referral processes start when you have won a piece of business, done well, then the client refers you onto their contacts or when the client refers you to their clients. The magical bit is when those referred clients then refer you on another stage to their clients. Not only that, it is also worth noting that if you manage the relationship right, the client will take you with them when them move roles too. So the chain grows. Magical stuff.

As a sales person constantly promoting my business where and how I can, it has become every more important to meet and connect with as many people as possible as you simply never know when the opportunity to refer can come about. As vulgar as this may seem, it is definitely true that when a referral is made that the appreciation from the sales persons perspective is very much appreciated, yet we forget, that the referee has also benefitted too, not only from the expertise of the sales person, but also in the amount of time that has been saved shopping around for the right solution, the time spent in meeting and not to mention the cost to the business in having to do so. It works two ways and therefore the referral relationship is truly extra special. Get this one right, then who knows where you can end up. Perhaps as a centre of influence for someone else. If nothing else, referring someone to someone else is a truly good thing to do. The Karma fairy likes this. So ask yourself if is about what you know, then what do you know?  is it worth sharing? If is it about who you know, then who do you know? and who could you refer or recommend today? Go on do a good thing.

For business skills development training in sales or management then why not talk to me Simon Hares at or call 07979 537824.

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