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Why Do Salespeople Hesitate Asking For A Referral?

and assume that their work will do the magic



We are supposed to be Prospecting every day as Sales Professionals.

Cold Calling is a part of it, as there are times when contacts on our list have to be reached out to for the first time.



One of the reasons that the prospect does not show much interest or is not willing to share is because he/she does not have a context about what is being asked and/or shared.


Can we set the context during the call? Yes, we can but then the call has to last at least a minute to set the context. Most of the time, prospects don't give that much time. They are curt and just end the call.

However, if we have been referred by someone then the matter is completely different.

In such a case, setting the context becomes easy as there is a background of relatedness.

The salesperson can mention the referrer's name at the beginning of the call and hope to get some time with the prospect. Most of the time, prospects will either give an appointment or show some patience to listen.

It does not mean that the salesperson is sure to get the business, but at least he/she can be assured that they will be heard and not outright rejected.


Thats' a solace for many.


An opportunity to enquire about prospects' requirements helps provide salespeople with a different perspective.


Now you may ask If referrals are so much better than cold calling prospects then why is it that Salespeople do not ask for one.

Why do Salespeople hesitate to ask for a referral?

Here are the reasons that I could think of.


Reason 1 - What if syndrome - Salespeople are haunted by the what if syndrome. It would be too embarrassing if the customer said NO to sharing his/her contacts that may actually benefit from our solution.

What if the customer were to highlight some of our not-so-good interactions (such as being late for the meeting etc).


But you know something?


If you, as a salesperson, have done your job well then the customer may not even remember all that.


All these "What if" scenarios are just going on inside you.

It is your mind giving you all kinds of excuses so that you remain in your comfort zone.

Asking for a referral would mean stepping out of the comfort zone that most of us do not like, as we fear rejection.


Reason 2 - Self-Doubt.

The Salespeople are not sure they have done a good job and have provided value to the customer and lived up to their promises. As a result, they fear asking for a referral.


Reason 3 - Word of mouth

Some salespeople believe that their work will speak for themselves. Hence, they do not go and ask for a referral. As a result, they miss out on some good connections. Understand this, if you want new business or new connections you have got to keep assumptions aside and shamelessly ask for it. There is nothing wrong with it.


Now that we have understood the importance of asking for a referral, let me touch upon how to go about asking for one.


Here are a few ideas.


Idea #1 - When you ask for a referral, be very specific.


Instead of asking the customer to go over his entire list of contacts, which may run to several hundred, be very specific. Such as, making it industry-specific or role-specific.

For example, If you know someone in your contacts, who is from the Automobile industry then could you please refer us, as we believe our product can add value to their production department.


You can also make it company-specific.

For example, we are trying to connect someone from this company, if you know someone from your contact list working in this company at a VP or Director level, then we would like you to introduce us to them. Will it be ok with you?


Idea #2 - Ask for a letter of recommendation from the customer


Sometimes Customers may not be able to refer or introduce you to their contacts. In that case, request a letter of recommendation once the product/solution has been delivered. It is always a good idea to communicate about this at the beginning of the project that if the project is delivered on time, to the customers' satisfaction, a letter of recommendation would be desired vouching for the quality of work and the deliverables.

Idea #3 - Leverage Influencers on Social Media.

You will find subject matter experts who are powerful influencers in their line of work. You will find them on LinkedIn and the likes. Some of the influencers have a large tribe or fan following. You could use the service of these Influencers to gain access to the tribe and thereby explore the opportunity for new business

In summary, If you want to be referred you not only should have offered a high-quality service but also need to be proactive in your approach.

Be specific, Be ok to hear a NO and Be very forthcoming!


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