If you’ve read our series of blogs on sales then you know I conduct monthly individual sales conferences. Last month one of TKO Graphix national account managers and I were discussing lead generation. He used social media, sent emails, followed up with inquiries, and made cold calls F2F and by phone. He worked hard at finding qualified leads to present our solutions to. His sales showed it—he was substantially ahead of his last year’s sales numbers.

The Best Lead you Forgot to Ask for

As we talked about lead generation, about how much more productive email was than cold call or how following up with a previous customer was easier than knocking on a door, I asked how effective he was at gaining referrals from his customers, and for the most part—he wasn’t. Referrals are one of the best; if not the best lead for any salesperson. The prospect has been recommended to you by a friend, someone they trust and isn’t that what we’re all searching for whether it’s a car mechanic, dentist, or a graphics provider—someone we can trust?

The Most Productive Method of Procuring Referrals—EVER! 

For this method of gathering referrals to be effective, you must provide a superior product, with outstanding service, and great customer follow up—if you don’t, stop reading right now, you’re wasting your time. Who wants to recommend a mediocre experience to their friends?

Do customers thank you?  Do they thank you for superior work, solving problems, servicing your product, or correcting a mistake? When they do what do you say? “No, I thank you!” OK—nothing wrong with that, but you need to take it further. When your customer thanks you for the great job you and your company did, it’s time to ask for referrals. Look your customer in the eye and say, “Thank you, we try our best to meet our customer’s needs, may I ask, who do you know who might use our services and deserves to be treated this way?” I’m not big on verbatim scripts–so put it in your own words—but take the time to ask.

Four Steps to More Referrals  

  • Deliver outstanding product, service, and follow up
  • Listen for your customer’s appreciation
  • Remind them how important customers are to you
  • Ask for referrals

Creating Evangelists and Advocates

When you’ve created a satisfied customer because of your efforts—ask for their help. You might begin by asking if you could use their name as a referral. Request a signed release then post photos, create blogs, or share videos and testimonials of the work. Post the information on social media—Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Share a video on YouTube—it’s easy. Once you’ve established your customer as an advocate, ask them to be an evangelist for you. The advocate allows you to use them to help promote your product or service—the evangelist promotes you by recommending you to others. Establishing an evangelical relationship with your happy customer may be easier than you think. Often all you need to do is ask. Some folks aren’t inclined to help, and others may not have time, but you’ll find many who want to help. They want to see you succeed; they want to be part of your success, and as long as you take care of your customer and his or her referrals they will continue to help you succeed.

I changed the title to this post several times. “Work Smarter for Leads not Harder” “How to Create Product Evangelists”, and “Harvest These leads or Someone Will” Regardless, the point is to use the hard work you do in satisfying customers to help you succeed. You deserve it. How do you ask for referrals?