The Next Best Thing – Referrals

In sales, the best thing is a contract. The next best thing is a referral.

But asking for a referral can be tricky. The time to ask for one varies. Some reps won’t ask for a referral until after they’ve been awarded a contract. Others after the first five minutes.

Many sales reps feel unsure about asking. It’s hard for them to gauge how buyers feel after talking with them a short time. Also, it’s easy to forget to ask.

What if there were a prompt to ask for referrals? One that had a path of questions for more and better referrals?

A New Way to Referrals – the Net Referral Score

Here’s a new idea: the Net Referral Score, a referral path with guided questions.

While it may seem unnecessary to sales reps who rapport instantly and talk effortlessly, it can help reps wanting a more concrete approach to getting referrals.

The Net Referral Score prompts reps to ask for referrals, and do it earlier rather than later.

The Idea’s Source – Net Promoter Score®

The idea behind this new Net Referral Score comes from the Net Promoter Score®. The Net Promoter Score (NPS®) was created by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, Satmetrix. It’s an easy to use, easily understood, one-question measurement of customer loyalty. The one question asked of customers is:

“How likely is it that you would recommend [Company X] to a friend or colleague?”

Answers are on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 = extremely likely and 0 = not at all likely. The net score comes from subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors (0-6) from the percentage who are Promoters (9s & 10s).

For example, 10 people are surveyed and their responses include 4 that are <=6, and 6 that are >=9. The Net Promoter Score is +20 (60% – 40%). Anything in positive territory is good.

The creators assert the answers are strong predictors of future purchases and customer loyalty. The NPS® has been adopted by companies such as GE, Proctor & Gamble, American Express, etc.

Back to The Net Referral Score for Sales

The same general idea applies to the Net Referral Score as the NPS®. For referrals, sales reps ask:

“Based on our conversation(s), how comfortable would you feel referring me to your colleagues or peer?”

…adding

“Rate me on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is very comfortable and 0 is not at all comfortable”.

Depending on customers’ ratings, sales reps ask follow up questions accordingly.

Start Here – The Process

The Net Referral Score can be used at the end of the first meaningful sales conversation with prospective customers.

A meaningful conversation can be multiple emails or one phone call where there’s a back and forth exchange of information, and the rep can demonstrate their professionalism.

At whatever point in the sales conversation you’re ready, ask:

“Based on our conversation(s) how comfortable would you feel referring me to your colleagues or peers? Rate me on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is very comfortable and 0 is not at all comfortable”.

If their response is 9-10

Ask:

“Thank you – who first comes to mind?”*

After getting the referral names, ask:

“Would you mind making the introduction yourself?”

Request a confirmation email letting you know when the referral occurred as well as getting the new email.

* Alternatively, ask if they use LinkedIn. If so, ask to connect and then be referred using LinkedIn’s introductions.

If their response is 7-8

Ask the same first question:

“Thank you – who first comes to mind?”

Then ask:

“Can I use your name to say you referred me?

If they say yes, don’t forget to ask for those emails, titles and correct spelling of names. Also, cc: the referrer in any emails or written correspondence to give them a heads up.

If their response is 0-6

Thank them for their time, and if you like, ask them “would you mind telling me why?”

Acknowledge and respect their answer. Take note of their comments as it’ll identify your improvement areas.

Rate Yourself

Quarterly, semi-annually, or annually gather your referral data. Then compute your Net Referral Score by subtracting the percentage of ratings 0-6 from the percentage of 9s and 10s.

Here’s that example again; 10 people are surveyed and their responses include 4 that are <=6, and 6 that are >=9. The Net Promoter Score is +20 (60% – 40%).

Did your score make it into positive territory?

Reward Frequent Referrers

After rating your referrals you’ll also see if you have any frequent referrers. Reward them, ethically that is. Find ways to provide them extras that show you value their help but that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

There’s a free service called Referral Key that simplifies tracking and can facilitate rewards and incentives.

3 Reasons to use the Net Referral Score

#1 Reminder to ask for referrals in the first place

#2 Path of questions to get better referrals

#3 Identify & support frequent referrers

How Good are You at Getting Referrals

Referrals are the best entre to the next sale.

  • How good are you at getting referrals?
  • How do you ask for them?

 

Title Image based on Holadem Koffigoh

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