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Felix hates cold calls.
In fact, he despises them. He won’t make them And yet he is one of the top sales reps in his company. Felix Menendez will only make warm calls and he closes over FIFTY percent of those he makes!
Felix Menendez gets referrals from his existing clients whenever and wherever he can. This post will look at the “Menendez Method” of referral selling. It’s a good one, so pay heed.
Why the Big Deal?
Why the big deal about referrals? Because in business to business selling, referrals will close at 40%, 50%…heck, even at a 100%. This is not hyperbole. This is a fact. Referrals close faster and easier than any other single approach in the selling world.
Of course, it makes sense, doesn’t it? When a customer supplies you with a referral your job is made easier for two reasons. First, when you call the referral you have the common ground of the person who gave you the name. It is not a cold call. You have a pre-text for calling and typically, the referral listens closely to what you have to say. That’s half the battle.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, there is the explicit or implied endorsement of you, your company and your product/service by the person who made the referral. This endorsement creates an element of trust almost immediately. The referral, if he or she desires, can ‘check’ up on you.
Why Reps Avoid Referral Selling
But the fact of the matter remains that many, if not most, sales reps avoid this veritable gold mine of leads. There are two reasons for this:
1. They fear it is too pushy or aggressive.
Unfortunately, many reps think customers won’t like them if they ask for a referral. Bull. If the sales rep has done a good job in selling the product and the client has derived positive benefits from it, the rep has “deposited” a degree of trust and satisfaction in their relationship. This is powerful equity. Use that equity. Leverage it. Use the goodwill that has been created.
Too pushy? Hey, get over it. For pete’s sake, what’s the worst that could happen? The worst thing that could happen is that the client doesn’t cough up a name. So what?
2. They don’t know how.
This is different. Some reps don’t ask for the sale simply because they don’t know how to go about it. Let’s take a look at how Felix tackles referrals:
The Menendez Method: How to Ask for a Referral
Over the last few months I have monitored Felix several times and have observed that he uses a simple two-step approach:
1. The Request
The first step is the request. After Felix has taken care of any business issues and has ensured that the client is completely satisfied with the program, he’ll say:
“Dr. Maynard, I’ve got my manager on my back about getting sales in…you know how they are…and I was wondering if you had a name or two of any doctors who could benefit from the program like you have?”
Then he shuts up and waits.
Felix’s approach is candid. Nothing fancy. It is straight and to the point. He explains exactly what he is asking for and why. His approach is also clever. He references the “benefits” of the program and uses that to remind his client that the request isn’t just beneficial to him (Felix) but to others. In other words, it is a win, win situation. Clients like that.
2. The Reward
The second step is the “reward.” After Felix has been given a referral or two he says this:
“Thanks Dr. Maynard. I really appreciate that. Hey, listen, if I convert any of these I’ll be sure to send you a cap or golf shirt. Which would you prefer?”
Interestingly, the reward is held back until a name is given. In other words, he doesn’t use it as a “bribe” up front to solicit a referral. That’s cheesy. He uses the “reward” afterwards to say “Thank you.” That’s classy.
There is nothing particularly complex about Felix’s approach to referral selling. He has created an effective technique but more importantly, he USES it. And that’s why he’s one of the top sales reps in his company. Not once in all the times I have monitored his calls has Felix NOT gotten a referral. Not once. So what does that tell you?
If you are not using referral selling you really need to give your head a shake!