In your sales training program have you been told that if you want more referrals you just have to ask? If you’ve been asking you may have experienced some problems with just asking, such as: the people you’re asking don’t really feel comfortable referring you, the people your asking are at a loss as to who to refer to you, it makes you feel like a beggar, and you really don’t like imposing on people always asking them for something. These are all very real and very valid problems with the “just ask” approach. There’s a better way.

From your sales training program hopefully you realize the importance of building relationships with your customers. Before you ever ask for a referral, you have to earn the right to ask for the referral by building a real relationship with your customer. A relationship isn’t build from one sales appointment. When you have a true relationship with your customers they will know you, like you, and trust you. People are unlikely to give you referrals, let alone good qualified referrals, until you have a relationship.

Once you’ve started a relationship don’t let it fade away. You have to proactively maintain the relationship with your customer. You do this through regular contact where you aren’t asking for anything rather you’re just being a friend who truly cares about them and their needs. Many sales training programs fail to emphasize how important it is to maintain the relationships you start. Just like a friend, out of sight out of mind and that’s not what you want to happen.

In your sales training at some point you should discuss how to help your customers refer you. This happens when you help them to clearly understand who a good referral is, and you train them on how to give you that referral. You help them to identify a good referral by providing them with enough information to help them think of a real person that they know very well. Then you tell them to talk to that person about you, and ask the person to contact you. That’s a qualified referral, a person who knows about you and calls you to request an appointment. You may think that sounds like a pipe dream, but when you do it right it can and will consistently happen.

No sales training program would be complete without a referral system that works. A referral system that works builds on beginning relationships through on-going contact and communication. It trains your customers on who to refer to you and how to do. A good referral system requires attention and a little work on your part, but the pay-off is huge in the long-term.

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