Deconstructing Sales Referrals for More Juice

by Chris Arlen on March 14, 2012

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Deconstructing Sales Referrals For More JuiceAll sales reps want referrals because they can lead to quick and easy sales. Yet referrals are hard to get. If we think of referrals as one thing entirely they become elusive. Why?

Because those that want to give us referrals often lack the time to do it. Those that can, may feel uneasy referring us in case we make them look bad.

However, by deconstructing referrals into their parts it’s easier to benefit from components rather than waiting for the entire referral. Understand? May be not. Read on and all will become clear, or at least clearer.

A Referral in 4 Parts

Your best referrals will come from business contacts who meet these criteria from “The Quick Sales Funnel and Super 8“:

  • They know you & your company
  • They like you personally
  • They have time for you
  • They value what you do

But there’s more to referrals than just wanting the opportunity. The four parts of a referral are:

#1 The Referrer
#2 Contact Data
#3 Inside Info
#4 The Referral Introduction

#1 The Referrer

Not all those willing to refer you will have the same value to your sales’ efforts.

Because your time is limited, work from a prioritized list of those who will introduce you, or provide a lead.  Here is how to identify your high priority referrers:

1.1 They work for a highly visible, well known company

While this isn’t a requirement, it’s what you hope for. Your referrer works for a Microsoft or Apple or GE or Goldman Sachs. It’s the brag factor that counts as most of your referrals will be made to lesser beings. So start your referral efforts with high visibility brands first.

1.2 They are recognized as Subject Matter Experts in their fields

Obviously, you can’t alter whether they have this status or not. But you can first choose those that have, then follow with the balance of your referrers.

1.3 They have personal connections with your target prospects

A personal connection is obviously stronger than a professional one only. The personal relationship has the potential for providing secret insights of the target prospects.

1.4 They have a professional connection with your target prospects

In the absence of a personal connection, professional credence is valuable. Even if your referrer is not from a high-profile company, the fact they have worked with your target prospects can lend weight to their referral. Again, you can’t do anything about this, but you can prioritize them.

#2 Contact Data

At the most basic level your referrer provides a name, title, email and/or phone number of a target prospect. This is also called a “cold referral” as there is no referral action, only the contact info.

#3 Inside Info

This is the information your referrer gives you regarding the secret info on your target prospects (ethically of course).

Receiving inside information about your target prospects is pure gold. It gives you an immediate base from which to develop talking points, and provides a platform for developing your sales offer.

#4 The Referral Introduction

This is the payoff, the desired outcome of selling by referral; the referral action itself.

Since this is where your referrer is going to say something about you, do what you can to shape what they say. If you can, prep them to mention specifics, such as ROI, improvements, cost savings, or benefits you’ve delivered. Of course this depends on your relationship but it’s worth asking for.

Your referrer can make the referral introduction in several ways, some are more helpful to your success than others. Here they are:

4.1 In-person

Your referrer introduces you face-to-face – the best you can hope for, especially if they say the great things you prepped them to.

4.2 Voice message from your referrer tells them to take your call

Not as warm as the in-person because your targeted prospect may forget your name from the voice mail.

4.3 Web meeting with your referrer

Enables you to launch your intro presentation if appropriate, and if your referrer is kind enough, they’ll stick around and answer questions from your target prospect, or provide a testimonial to your greatness.

4.4 Email introduction from your referrer where you are cc:d in the email

This is also known as a virtual introduction as neither party engages in a conversation.

Consider writing the email intro for your referrer as this will highlight specific benefits and outcomes you’ve delivered. Additionally, it’s easier on your referrer, saving them the time and effort to write it themselves.

4.5 Request Intro within LinkedIn

Similar to an email virtual introduction but with much higher visibility for your target prospect to check up on you first. This means you’ll need to have your LinkedIn profile 100% complete.

Here’s an effective way to request an introduction through LinkedIn (better than LinkedIn’s instructions).

NOTE: In this process you must be a 1st degree connection with your referrer.

4.5.1 Write up a stock “request for introduction” with placeholders for the name of your targeted prospect’s name and company.

* Keep it short and pointed at what you help customers solve, and the nature of your relationship with your referrer.

* Save it as a plain text file – you’ll want to copy and paste this later, as you’ll see in the steps below.

* IMPORTANT: This message may (will) eventually be seen by the person you want to be introduced to (your target prospect). Write it like you mean it to be read. Here’s the write up I use:

<<Referrer’s First Name>>,

Would appreciate an introduction to <<Targeted Prospect’s First & Last Name>> to see if we might help <<Targeted Prospect’s Company>> with their <<sales need>>.

Similar to our work with you and <<Referrer’s Company Name>> for the last few years,  such as <<list several of the services and/or results you’ve provided>>

Thanks again.

Chris Arlen
[email protected]

4.5.2 In LinkedIn, go to your CONTACTS / CONNECTIONS and select your referrer  that meets most of the conditions listed above in #1 The Referrer.

4.5.3 Once your referrer is selected, in the right hand side of the screen CLICK on their number of connections.

NOTE: Your referrer may control who sees their connections list. By default it’s set to display your referrer’s list because you are a 1st degree connection.

However, if their number of connections is not linked, then your referrer has limited their list to only those shared between you. This won’t do you much good. If this happens, do the following: SEARCH on PEOPLE or COMPANY, find your target prospect that way, then jump to step 4.5.7.

4.5.4 You’ll now be on your referrer’s ALL tab on their CONNECTIONS page.

4.5.5 Scroll through your referrer’s list of CONNECTIONS, and when you find a target prospect CLICK on their name

TIP: In Firefox and Internet Explorer, hold Control + CLICK, or in Safari hold Command-click a link. This opens a new window with that targeted prospect, and keeps your referrer’s list of CONNECTIONS window open.

4.5.6 You will land on your target prospect’s PROFILE page. In the right side of their profile CLICK on “Get introduced through a connection”

NOTE: LinkedIn’s free version only allows you 5 introductions, so choose them carefully. You may want to scan through your referrer’s entire list before selecting target prospects.

Additionally, LinkedIn’s paid versions allow more introductions based on the plan you’re paying for, such as:

Sales Basic = 15 introductions
Sales Navigator = 25 introductions
Sales Executive = 35 introductions

4.5.7 Once you CLICK on “Get introduced through a connection” you’ll be in the Introduction window.  Look for your referrer and select them from the list of connections available.

4.5.8 Enter a subject for your message. Use a straightforward subject, one that is clear but describes why you want to connect, such as “Introduction to Offer Consulting Help”.

4.5.9 Go to your stock “request for introduction” from step 4.5.1 above and copy it into the message body. CLICK Send Request.

4.6.0 Your “requests for introductions” are displayed in your INBOX / SENT. You’ll be notified when your referrer accepts it and passes it on to your target prospects. It’s up to your referrer now.

4.6.1 You’ll be notified by LinkedIn when your target prospects accept your request to connect. When that happens, it’s time to follow up in the same manner you would if they were a warm referral.


The four parts of a referral are:

# 1 The Referrer
#2 Contact Data
#3 Inside Info
#4 Referral Introduction

Referral introductions come in five flavors:

  • In-person
  • Voice mail
  • Web meeting
  • Email
  • LinkedIn

How do you get referrals?

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