Why you Need to Stop Cold Calling
Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights
Is cold calling part of your current sales role? If it is then it’s probably the part you hate the most. The good news is that you don’t need to cold call to be successful in sales. If you want to close more deals read on.
The case for referrals
Being referred is simply an introduction from one person to another. The key component is trust. All good relationships are built on trust. When you are referred by someone (or they refer you) you start off with a certain level of trust imbedded within the relationship. By using referrals (in place of cold calling) you create quality leads that increase the likelihood of making a sale, and they work particularly well in the B2B arena.
Why people don’t ask for referrals
Most people don’t ask to be referred and even those who do aren’t doing it enough.
Reasons people don’t ask for referrals:
- Fear – we’re often frightened that people will say, ‘no’
- Being a burden – we don’t want to feel we are putting pressure on a person who we believe is too busy to help us
- Weakness – we think that asking for referrals is a sign of weakness i.e. we should be able to create leads from scratch
- Habit – asking for referrals is not a habit we have created
The truth is that when we ask for a referral we’re only asking someone to help us and if you have a relationship built on trust then most people will be happy to help you.
How to ask for referrals
As with most problems the solution isn’t in doing one single thing, but in attacking it from a number of angles and taking consistent action.
Here are five ways to create a referral culture:
1) Strategy – asking for referrals needs to come from the top down within an organisation i.e. management teams need to imbed the behaviour within their strategy.
2) Sales process – following on from strategy comes the sales process. Referrals need to be part of the way an organisation makes sales and grows their business. This doesn’t mean you have to ask for a referral at a specific point in the sales process, more that you need to be aware throughout the whole sales process of the signs that someone could be open to giving a referral. When you deliver value you’re in a good place to ask for a referral e.g. when you’ve helped someone overcome a challenge it’s a great opportunity to ask that person if they know anyone who you might be able to help in the same way.
3) Skills – this means changing your mindset from one of fear to that of opportunity. Asking for a referral helps you learn more about your customer and the people they interact with.
4) Reinforcement and coaching – keep up your new habit and if you are struggling then speak with your colleagues and / or line manager for support. Working in a team means helping each other to be successful as a whole unit.
5) Metrics – Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying: ‘what gets measured gets managed’. There are two ways you can measure referrals. Firstly through activity e.g how many people are the sales team going to ask for referrals this week. The second is through results i.e. revenue. Recording your referrals will upgrade their importance and provide a new sense of focus over them.
What you can do right now
Take a look at your contact list. Identify the people you contact regularly. Of those people highlight the ones that you have the best relationships with. These are the people who you enjoy talking to and return your phone calls. It doesn’t matter if there aren’t many people on your final list. You need quality not quantity. Set up a conversation with those people to talk through business and to see whether you can uncover a useful referral. Bear in mind that you want to keep the conversation natural. If you identify a referral that’s great but even if you don’t there might a future conversation with that same person where a referral can be identified. Repeat on a regular basis and you’ll soon create a habit of receiving and giving referrals that will help you be a more successful sales person.
If you need further advice, get in touch via LinkedIn.
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