Written by Rick Roberge @RainMakerMaker

I started my business in 1986 by calling every company I could in the Blue Book. There’s no sugarcoating this: It sucked. I was good at cold calls, but it was still a pain in the neck. My goal became to set up a by-referral only business.

Did I succeed? In 1994, I switched my main business line to a private number. The only way a person could call me is if they knew someone who already had my number. By that time, I had an ironclad referral process, and my business is still thriving today.

Don’t think you should wait for referrals to come to you sporadically — you should instead proactively seek them, no matter what industry you’re in. If you take the time to develop referrals, you’ll get more qualified prospects for the simple fact that people hang out with others like themselves. This cuts the sales cycle to a much shorter timeframe.

You will also virtually eliminate objections of the ilk that the prospect doesn’t trust you. Trust is already built in, thanks to your referrer.

However, getting and giving referrals isn’t comfortable for many salespeople. Building a referral process sounds great in the abstract, but requires a deft touch on the tactical level.

4 Referral Process Tips

1) You have to start somewhere.
Referrals can be an extremely effective way to grow a business, but it’s a snowball rather than an explosion. Don’t expect immediate results.

2) Be excellent at your job.
Customers will only want to refer you if you’ve delighted them. Go above and beyond with your customers to reap the referral rewards.

3) Don’t accept just any referral.
When I first started seeking referrals, I’d ask customers “Who do you know?” and they’d give me some names. The problem with that phrasing was that people would occasionally offer contacts they didn’t have a good relationship with.

I’ve since changed my question to “Who do you like?” to ensure I’m getting referred to a person my customer has a strong relationship with. I can then benefit from the respect the referral has for my customer.

4) Develop a referral mindset.
If you want to get referrals, you should also give referrals. This is what I call a “referral mindset.” Help your contacts and acquaintances grow their businesses by hooking them up with people in your network, and they’ll feel inclined to return the favor.

Many clients are unsure of how to reach out to potential referrals on your behalf. Sending them this email template can be just what they are looking for.


I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been working with [salesperson] for a few months. The other day, I was talking with him about some of the things that he and I have done, and I realized that I should put you two together. So…

[Referral], meet [Salesperson, with a LinkedIn profile URL].
[Salesperson], meet [Referral, with a LinkedIn profile URL].

Can I leave the rest to you guys?

Talk to you both later.
[Your Client]

Note that the customer isn’t asked to explain to the referral what the salesperson does. It’s not their job to sell the referral.

Phrasing it in this manner (without a lot of explanation) builds on the mutual respect between customer and referral by implying that the referral can give the salesperson the benefit of the doubt. Also, since both the customer and the salesperson are on the email, it would be appropriate for either to follow up.

After sending this template, I usually check in a week or two later with my customer and ask — gently — if they sent it out. If they haven’t, I reply that it’s no problem, and then I do not ask again.

This approach to getting referrals has worked for me, and it will work for you. Don’t wait for referrals to trickle in — formalize your process, and launch it today.

Happy Monday and Happy Selling!

The Best Way to Ask for Referrals [+ Email Template]

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In a crowded marketplace, it may seem that price wars are inevitable. But slashing prices to beat the competition will hurt your credibility, brand image, and margin more than it helps.

We get what we pay for. Even if your buyers try to convince you otherwise, they understand this principle. So instead of racing your price-cutting competitors to the bottom, leverage your product’s strongest assets to create value that outweighs a lower price. Using the following four factors, you can build a strong competitive advantage.

1) Stand by your premium pricing.
It may seem contradictory, but charging a premium price — and sticking to it — can actually be used as a competitive advantage. It’s common to assume that all buyers will be making a purchasing decision based largely on cost, but it’s rarely the primary reason a person buys.

A prospect may lead you to believe price is the deciding factor, but buyers actually tend to be leery of prices that seem too low — it sends a message about your product’s quality. Instead, standing by your premium pricing and acknowledge that your product is more expensive — it makes a strong statement about your credibility as a solutions provider.

2) Sell value, not price.
Value, not price, is almost always the most critical factor in a purchasing decision. Having a valuable product is one thing, but having the ability to sell value is what will set you apart in a sea of cheaper competitors.

In order to create value for your buyers, you must understand the unique standards and expectations of your prospect. For example, what makes a valuable tire? To determine that, you’d have to answer these questions:

What are you going to use the car for?
Does the tire need to get the driver through the Indy 500?
Do you need a racing slick? An off-road tire?

Using value as a competitive advantage requires customizing your solution to best meet your buyers’ needs.

3) Master product delivery.
Delivery is a part of your business you absolutely must excel at if you want to sell at a higher price than your competitor. In competitive industries, a company’s ability (or failure) to deliver a product or service in a timely, agreed-upon manner can make or break a customer relationship.

When prospects tell you they can “get the same thing somewhere else for less money,” silently ask yourself this essential question: “Then why are they even talking to me?” Because if they really can get the same thing down the street, right now, for less money, why are they still engaging with you? Whether it’s implementation support or superior customer service, delivering a timely and better onboarding experience than your competitors will help you justify a higher price point.

4) Practice helpful selling.
The ability to reach out to prospects in a professional way, on their own terms, is the currency of sales success in today’s competitive marketplace. Today’s buyers are more in control of the sale than ever before, and with that added control comes a decreased willingness to talk with salespeople who only care about getting the deal.

Elevating your product or service from an interchangeable, turnkey fix to a solution to critical business pain means you’ll have to add value in a way that goes beyond price. And focusing on value over price is better for you, too. Buyers who understand value, and the higher price tag that accompanies it, will be better long-term customers than those with a transactional mindset.

Happy Monday and Happy Selling!


How to Win Against Price-Cutting Competitors

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What does the term cognitive fluency mean to you? If you’re in sales, it should mean a lot.

Cognitive fluency describes how simple it is to think about something. There have been several studies and they’ve all determined the same thing: People like things that are easy to think about. In other words, humans want to make an easy decision, not a hard one.

If you’re in sales, this is the angle you need to work in order to be successful.

But this raises a question: How do you make a decision easy for someone?

We’ll make it easy for you. Here are five quick tips to help a prospect make the “easy” decision.

1) Pare your presentation down to the essentials.

Customers don’t like to be overwhelmed with a ton of information, but they do like to hear about the specifics that pertain to their situation.

This means that sales reps need to know the ins and the outs of their prospect’s business to deliver the most mentally palatable presentation. By spending a few extra minutes researching your customer, you’ll be much better informed about who they are and what they want. Check all the usual places, including LinkedIn, company blogs, and social media, as well as any industry-specific forums.

2) Ask questions.

Instead of you trying to convince your prospect that they need your product, asking questions prompts them to reflect on their circumstances and come to their own purchase conclusion. And a decision a person comes to on their own always seems easier than one forced upon them by a third party.

Asking open ended, simple questions is key here.

3) Help rally the troops.

An average of 5.4 decision makers are involved in every B2B purchase. That’s a lot of people. As a sales rep, it’s not only your job to convince the person you’re speaking with that your service offers value, but also the other people who get a say in the decision.

The easiest way to do this is to offer your assistance. Once you “sell” the first decision maker, it’s time to start a conversation with the others. That could be as easy as asking for their phone number or email and setting up individual calls, or one large presentation. Either way, helping your champion convince the rest of their team makes the decision much easier to sign off on.

4) Respond as quickly as possible.

Keeping it simple also means that you’re quick to respond so your prospect doesn’t have to wait around all day for answers to their questions. One study conducted by Heinz Marketing found that the average response time is 61 hours. Yep, 61 hours. If you’re able to do better than that, not only will you beat the average, but you’ll also make a tremendous impression on the prospect. Getting an answer to a pressing question from you will seem as simple as pressing an “easy” button.

The best way to improve your response time is to set up an email system. When you receive a message from a prospect, give it a quick read and decide if you need to respond at this moment or not. Remember, great sales reps go the extra mile for their customers and prospects. Commit to answering all customer emails within a certain timeframe, and stick to it.

5) Answer questions before they are asked.

According to CEB, most B2B prospects go through the majority of the buying process before they even talk to a sales rep. They’re conducting independent research to assess the options and seek answers to their questions.

You know what buyers are after in these early stages: Information. So instead of sitting back and waiting until they come to you, why not proactively offer your assistance?
When you do your introductory outreach, include an informative piece of content that can help the prospect better understand your product. By sending along blog posts, case studies, and testimonials, you’ll be able to answer a majority of questions before they are asked.

Happy Monday and Happy Selling!


5 Simple Tips to Get Them to Say YES!

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