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Referrals: Nitrous Oxide for Your Sales Engine

It goes by different names: Juice. Giggle gas. Some people even refer to it as “having a bottle in the bag.” Whatever you call it, nitrous oxide is a favorite additive for go-fast types everywhere.

When nitrous oxide is injected into a motorcycle’s combustion chamber, it allows more oxygen into the fuel/air mixture, making for a better, more complete combustion event. The more thorough the combustion, the more power your vehicle boasts.

The key is how to get more oxygen into your sales efforts.

Sales professionals often focus on the wrong aspects of their business. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked how to maximize profit margins, handle price objections and sell against low-price competition. Worthy endeavors all — but these are the wrong aspects on which to concentrate.

Salespeople often get stuck in the mud, working with intractable, unreasonable or apathetic “prospects.” What if, instead, you focused your efforts on the nitrous oxide of your sales engine? That would be high-potential referrals. Doing so eliminates several other concerns that ultimately result in wasted time.

Let’s start by clarifying what I mean by “referrals.”

What is ‘referral business’?

“Referral business” is business acquired through direct reference by an existing buyer. Please don’t confuse referral efforts with cold-call prospecting, networking, direct-mail marketing or advertising. And, for heaven’s sake, we’re not talking about the “viral” approach.

Each of those actions may have a place in your marketing toolbox, but right now, we’re focusing on interpersonal referral business as defined above.

For example: An existing buyer gives you the name of someone he or she knows, and for whom that individual thinks you and your offerings may be a good fit.

This is the strongest way to boost sales for many reasons. First, the existing buyer has already acted and purchased your product or service. He didn’t talk about it; he took you up on your offer. Second, if you’re talented and focused enough on your business to be reading this blog post, presumably you’ve performed admirably for your clients. After all, no amount of marketing wizardry is going to build a business or a career if your offerings are substandard. That’s why those clients are willing to recommend you to others.

When you put these two elements together, your chances for obtaining a high-potential referral increase dramatically.

More reasons why referrals work

Here are some other reasons referrals make sense:

  • Referrals minimize your advertising and marketing expenses. 
  • Referrals provide “warm” contact with prospects. 
  • Referrals dramatically improve the likelihood of success. 
  • Referrals give your customers an opportunity to contribute. 

The problem isn’t that sales professionals don’t realize referral business is a good thing. If you get a group of sales practitioners or sales managers together and bring up the topic of referral business, most will unanimously agree that referrals are the keys that unlock the door to sales success.

But the problem is creating the mind-set, the skills and the system that consistently produce referral business. I’ll dissect this in the next several posts.

For now, try this approach: When you are saying goodbye to customers, simply smile, look them in the eye and say, “Whatever you do, don’t keep us a secret!” 

Then go about your business.

I guarantee those eight simple words will get them thinking.