The 'ONE THING' That Grew Sales By 393%
I’ve Cold Called in the past - it’s tough!
When I worked for a Renewable Energy Company I grew a call centre from 4 to 46 people in 5 months - that was really tough!
I’ll be honest, I was quite happy but knew we could do a lot better. We were calling from an old Financial Service database so what did we expect? - it was colder than being at an early evening barbecue in August (in the UK, obviously!).
So, I introduced a Referral Programme to get warm leads from our cold leads.
Here’s what happened...
The same 46 people made 150 calls a day to referrals
The average increased to 4.6 appointments made a day
That’s 6,900 calls a day to make 212 appointments
The blow out rate reduced to 15%
so, 180 appointments sat!
The sales team’s conversions increased to 41%
Sales increased to 74
That's a massive 110% increase in the number of appointments from our telemarketers - because they were calling referrals!
And a massive 393% increase in sales
Tip: The numbers are really important, as you can see above! Track them daily and try to improve every single one of them. By increasing every number in your business, even a fraction, will have a knock on effect and a massive impact on your bottom line.
This example was in a direct selling environment but I’ve implemented programmes and seen similar results in a Business to Business environment and I’ll tell you why it happens and how I did it…
Why do Referrals Boost Sales Conversions?
Referrals are so much further down the sales funnel than normal leads that they’re almost popping out of the bottom! You don’t have to find them, educate them, warm them up, gain their trust, dangle offers, chase them and follow up until you’re blue in the face! Why?...
Because someone they know, like and trust has told them that they need to talk to you because you’re good at what you do and can help them.
Do you buy anything now without asking for an opinion on it, google it, go onto review sites, watch videos, visit websites? No but if a friend tells you about something you trust them and that’s what you get with referrals.
You get instant trust and that’s huge in business - that’s why you need a Referral Programme.
What is a Referral Programme?
So, there’s lots of things you can do to get referrals but most businesses just get it so wrong. It’s not so much about what they’re doing but what they’re not doing. You see, what you need to do is:
Immerse your business in a Referral Culture!
Most businesses I talk to tell me they grow their business through Word of Mouth! And that’s great, truly it is and they feel quite proud of the fact. BUT the follow up question is met with a lot less enthusiasm than the first:
“That’s great that you grow from Word of Mouth. So, what’s your process to ensure you’re getting a steady stream of referrals, what are your targets, who’s monitoring the process and how are you doing?”
Well, I can categorically tell you that I haven’t had one positive reply to that question in 21 years.
This is the stock reply…
“Eeeer, well, the sales guys ask their customers if they happen to know anyone else who might fancy working with us and we get a couple of referrals a month.”
They were too shy!
That’s as far as most businesses go to get referrals!
So, knowing what you know already do you think it might be worth spending a bit of your time to try a bit harder to get referrals for your business.
To immerse your business in a Referral Culture and start a Referral Programme?
I hope the answer is yes!
Here’s how we did it…
The Sales Team
We trained every salesperson for two solid weeks to ask for referrals in the same way every time they did an appointment.
They had a script, a video at the end of their presentation, a referral capture form and a referral brochure that included testimonials from other people who had given us referrals and some great incentives.
We targeted every sales person and their managers. They had weekly and monthly targets with incentives and prizes for most referrals collected and closed.
All they had to do was ask!
We had leader boards in the office and daily emails went to all the staff with how many referrals each sales person had collected. The whole mind-set shifted from sales to referrals because we knew that our sales conversions would increase.
We made them accountable!
They started to ask for referrals at the first appointment at the end of their presentation so there wasn’t even a business relationship yet. We figured it wouldn’t hurt and we had nothing to lose.
The first night we implemented the Programme we collected 281 referrals.
Not bad considering we’d collected approximately
19 in the previous 2 months!
Brochure and referral capture sheet
Most sales people forget to ASK! Train them and give them the tools so asking for referrals is 'Front of Mind'
Customer Service Team
Because the whole company got involved in the Referral Culture we also targeted and incentivised the customer service team. They had a script and were trained to ask for referrals after every incoming and outgoing call.
Every person in the company had a referral request in their email signature with a link to an online form on the website to give referrals.
Product Deliveries and Mail
Every box and envelope that went out had a referral card in it with the latest referral incentive and prizes.
All existing customers had letters explaining the Referral Campaign and incentives. They all included a referral card to fill in and a postage paid envelope for them to return the card easily.
They also had a series of emails with deadlines for the incentives, a reminder Direct Mail piece and text messages.
Here's an example of a referral capture card we sent to existing customers from another campaign
The incentives in this instance were £100 cash for any referral who bought and an entry for every referral into a quarterly prize draw for a holiday or electrical bundle. So, we only paid out if we got business. The referee got a discount off our product.
Only do a BIG prize draw for referrals who buy so it pays for itself!
They were all free leads - one of the reasons you need to implement a referral programme!
It’s important to offer incentives to both parties, the referrer and the referee.
I’ve used lots of different incentives in the past and you don’t have to give too much away. One of the best incentives is a small monthly discount on a service (not forever!) or an upgrade.
Vouchers probably work best if you can’t discount or upgrade. Amazon are probably the most popular because you can buy most things from them.
Think of ways you could add more value rather than giving discounts as well.
A marquee hire company I worked with used a great incentive to get referrals.
They had four sizes of marquees and most people wanted a bigger one than their budget allowed (don’t we all!). So, we gave them the bigger size in return for five referrals. The referrals were far more valuable to them than the extra cost of the marquee!
So, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune and most of the time the incentives are self-funding.
Here's a picture of a couple receiving a cheque for their referrals who went on to buy from us. We used this in the brochure and on Social Media!
Do you need a referral Programme?
I’d say so!
It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, whether you sell B2C or B2B or you sell a product or a service - a Referral programme will work for you and you need one.
It’ll take some planning and hard work to get it up and running but, it’ll pay off big time.
And, if you get it right - it’s Free Marketing!
I’ve just recorded a neat little video on how to get referrals. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it over to you.
Good Luck - go get some referrals!
07917 731 293