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Developing a Referral-Based Mindset

Developing a Referral-Based Mindset

Paul McCord

Are you like over 85% of all salespeople, professionals, and business owners who find acquiring high quality referrals from your customers and clients difficult and frustrating? You’ve heard the sermons about how referrals are the best marketing method there is—and then discovered that few generate enough high quality referrals to actually make referrals a significant part of their marketing plan? Like most, you hear the hype but see few results?

The fault doesn’t lie with you. Rather the problem is the way you’ve been taught to seek referrals. If you are like the vast majority of salespeople, you’ve been taught to “do a good job and ask for referrals.” That’s it. That’s the typical training on how to use “the most important marketing method there is.”

If it is so darn important and effective, why is so little time and attention spent on training people on how to generate referrals?

Frankly, because few have studied the issue and really understand how to generate a large number of high quality referrals. Unlike other parts of the sales process that have been analyzed and studied to death, referral generation has always been assumed a part of the sales process that was uncontrollable. Either you asked for referrals or you didn’t. Either your customer knew someone to refer or they didn’t. Either you got referrals or you didn’t.

Salespeople, managers, and sales trainers have known for decades that the traditional method of referral generation, “do a good job and ask for referrals,” doesn’t work very well. But, they reasoned, there just wasn’t anything that could be done about it—you couldn’t turn referral generation into a disciplined, predictable process like the rest of the sales process, now could you?

Recent research into referrals by others and me has shown that referral generation doesn’t have to be left to chance. It can be and must be a disciplined process in order to work. In fact, most of the mega-producing salespeople have developed, through trial and error, their own process that generates a huge volume of high quality referrals from almost every one of their customers and clients.

Yet, even though a logical, disciplined referral generation process may set the stage for acquiring a large number of high quality referrals from each client, just as with all other aspects of the sales process, your attitude about referrals and your business are key to making the process work.

Converting your sales business to a referral-based model requires you to rethink and rework your mindset. You must become thoroughly immersed in the referral-selling model. Your clients and prospects must believe that your business is built on referrals, and for them to take your statements and proclamations of being referral-based seriously, you must project the professional attitude of a referral-based salesperson. In other words, you must “act the part” to “become the part.”

This acting the part to become the part is more difficult than it may sound. It requires that you completely buy-in to the idea that your business is built on referrals—even if at this point in time you receive few referrals. It requires you to retune your thinking so that everything you do and say conveys your referral-based business.

Why is it so important that you retrain your mind to think as a referral based salesperson? Simply because generating a large number of highly qualified referrals is a process that begins from the moment you first meet a prospect and continues throughout the relationship—hopefully for years. In addition, as mentioned previously, the prospect and client must take your assertions of a referral-based business seriously.