Sales: Why is the most important part of business missing from education?
5 Reasons You Can't Ignore the Value of a Professional Sales Team
Mega Sales Issue
7 Useful Stats to Help You Build the Perfect Sales Strategy
Want to Maximize Leads? Tap Into the Power of Referrals
how to wow the angels with a little help from your friendly neighborhood pitch clinic
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I am delighted to introduce Lisa J. Jackson as the new editor of Flackery magazine.
In addition to more than fifteen years experience as an editor, business writer, and author, Lisa is a well respected ghost writer for business professionals.
The closer we get to the official launch of the NH Business Guild's rebrand, the more daunting the project becomes.
Lisa's depth of experience and mad organizational skills will be invaluable assets as we change the direction of the Guild's magazine away from local content to include a wider variety of business topics.
Under Lisa's guidance we plan to expand coverage including several new features and more in-depth stories.
While I have been the face of Flackery, Lisa was the woman behind the scenes wielding her red pen and editing the editor. (She did this for fun!)
I will continue as the lead writer and production manager, but it's time to pass the baton.
As much as I love being involved in all aspects of the publication, magazines are meant to be collaborations.
I can't think of anyone I trust more to take the helm as we move in this new direction.
Welcome aboard, Lisa!
Founder NH Business Guild & Flackery Magazine
Lisa J. Jackson, Editor
Introducing Our New Editor Lisa J. Jackson!
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Learn to love sales with our super simple 5-step sales planner
How to wow the angels with a little help from your friendly neighborhood pitch clinic
5 Reasons you can't ignore the value of a professional sales team
Skip the overwhelm: 3 tips for finding the best sales training program
7 Useful stats to help you build the perfect sales strategy
Recession-Proof Your Business
Real world tools & strategies to build a strong foundation to help your business stay profitable when the economy is slow.
Want to maximize leads? Tap into the power of referrals
In every issue
How to increase sales and boost your sales IQ with Our Sales Coach
NH Business Guild Members
Polish your pitch and kick your anxiety to the curb
Angels account for 90% of startup funding after friends and family
Let’s be honest, everyone hates giving presentations, but when the future of your business relies on the result of your presentation, it’s time to kick your anxiety to the curb and get some professional help.
After watching clients fail to secure needed funding because they weren’t prepared for the big pitch, NH SBDC decided to create a program to help clients stay out of the weeds and deliver a compelling argument to potential investors.
Launched in 2015, the NH SBDC Pitch & Strategy Clinic was developed to help clients prepare and practice an investor pitch.
Andrea O’Brien, Director of the NH SBDC’s Business Sustainability Program, says “People want angel investors, but don’t know how to talk an angel.”
NH SBDC designed the clinic to be a learning experience to help business owners find their business voice.
Typical clinics have 4 - 6 presenters chosen from existing NH SBDC clients. Each person gets 15 minutes to do their pitch and is judged on their slide deck and oral presentation.
The premise is simple. A panel of SBDC business advisers act as the judges and evaluate participants’ presentations as would-be investors.
They look at the quality of the slides, the order and organization of content, and the overall energy of the pitch.
The key thing the advisers are looking for is how well a presentation identifies:
What problem the business solves
The market the business is trying to reach
How much money the business is asking for and what it will be used for
What the business anticipates will happen next
O’Brien says that this is where the flaws come out.
A lot of business owners start out focusing on their own vision. They’re passionate about their product and forget that investors are looking for businesses that have thought through all the details about launching a new product and have a solid game plan.
When your business needs an angel investor to swoop in to help you reach your next goal, wouldn’t you feel more confident knowing your presentation hits all the points investors look for?
An investor pitch is the ultimate sales job. It’s your chance to stand in front of people with an interest and ability to provide the financial backing your business needs to grow.
This is the value of a pitch clinic. Not only does it provide an opportunity to practice your presentation in front of a live audience, but that audience is stacked with people who have either been where you are in looking for funding, or have been the angel providing the funding.
With the popularity of Shark Tank-type startup pitch competitions, there are hundreds of opportunities to get in front of investors and compete for prizes up to $100,000 or more.
It doesn’t matter if you plan to stand in front of one investor or tackle a pitch competition with multiple investors, you only have 15 minutes to dazzle investors with your product and vision. Take advantage of programs like NH SBDC’s Pitch & Strategy Clinic to prepare and practice your pitch so that when it’s your turn at the podium, you are confident and ready to shine.
NH SBDC’s Pitch & Strategy Clinic may be limited to New Hampshire business clients, but there are similar programs in other states.
Pitch clinics are not a mandated program from America’s Small Business Development Center.
If your local SBDC does not have a pitch program, check with the district office of the Small Business Administration in your state.
Many non-profits and business incubators have similar programs to help business owners and startups prepare and create slide decks and presentations for investors.
Remember, with a little help from your friendly neighborhood pitch clinic, you can wow the angels and reach your business goals.
By PAT HAMMOND, NH Business Guild
1. NH SBDC - Pitch & Strategy Clinic
2. America's SBDC - Find your (local) SBDC
3. Small Business Administration - Get local assistance
4. American Angel Survey from Angel Capital Association
The average angel investment is $25,000.
The Resiliency Academy will cover resiliency planning, supply chains, workforce, quality of life, cybersecurity, innovation, sustainability, partnerships, & more!
If you liked the pitch clinic, check out the new Resiliency Academy from the NH SBDC
Learn How to Set Up & Manage Bookkeeping for YOUR Business!
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• 3-month free QuickBooks® Online (QBO) subscription
• Free QBO set up (including linking bank accounts and setting up a chart of accounts)
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• Easy-to-read monthly financial statements (Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement)
• 2 meetings per month where we share screens and I walk you through the bookkeeping process
Daybreak Business Solutions is offering a 3-month guided DIY Bookkeeping Program for small business owners
A great way to learn the basics on managing your own back office so you stay current with your financial records.
The cost for the program is $125 per month ($375 total), including QBO subscription
Who can participate?
Newer (1-3 years) businesses
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Owners who want to learn about better business practices
Step 1: Prospecting
5. Follow Up
We get it. You love revenue, but you hate sales. You hate the idea of sales; you hate the process of sales, and you hate thinking about sales.
What if we told you we have a way to help you learn to love selling your products and services?
Making a sale is no more or less challenging than any other business task.
All it takes is a little forethought about your sales process:
It’s a lot easier to tackle sales when you always operate from the same playbook, so create a procedure for identifying potential customers, qualifying leads, making sales calls, and closing the sale.
When you ask the same questions and follow the same procedure each time, you will establish a selling habit that makes selling as easy as ticking items off a to-do list.
The Business Guild has developed a 1-page sales planner template to help tackle your sales challenges and master the five basic elements of your sales strategy.
Identify the customer
Create customer avatars for your target audience. Get to know who these people are, what they need, and how you can solve their problems.
Connect with the customer
Connections can take many forms. Landing pages, contact forms, and phone calls are three examples, but the possibilities are endless.
First contacts are the perfect opportunity to qualify leads and learn more about the customer.
Identify the pain point
The general wisdom is that successful business people sell solutions instead of products.
The problem is that you can’t sell a solution if you don’t know what the customer’s problem is.
How do you solve the problem?
Provide specific information about how your product or service solves the customer’s problem.
Why is your solution different/better?
Explain why your solution is an improvement on existing or competitors’ solutions.
Now that you have identified what your customer’s problem is, how your solution will help them, and why it’s the best option, put it all together to state your value proposition.
Use data, real-world examples, and other illustrations to show, rather than tell, the customer how your solution will fix their problem.
Most business owners assume money is the biggest objection, but there are many reasons a customer might object to purchasing a product or service.
Other common objections include perceived value, timing, return on investment, and the likelihood of results.
Draw on customer conversations to determine the objections they are likely to raise and prepare short, persuasive responses.
Ask for the sale
Everyone practices the presentation, but few people think about preparing themselves to ask for the sale.
This is the most difficult step, don’t skip it. Get used to saying the words and practice the ask until it feels natural.
Build a long-term relationship
The general rule of thumb is that it costs 5 times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones.
The thing this so-called rule ignores is the long-term value of existing customers.
Develop a habit of following up after the sale.
Make sure the customer is happy with your service; use your CRM to stay in touch.
The contact can be a phone call, email campaign about new or companion services, or any relevant method to keep you on the customer’s radar and remind them of the value your service provided.
Ask for referrals
People want to do business with people they know and when that’s not possible they will look to friends and family to recommend someone.
With that in mind, things like testimonials and referrals lend an added layer of credibility and a fast track to closing a sale with a new client.
If a customer has expressed pleasure in your business and the results, ask for a referral.
At the end of the day, the act of selling is about having a conversation with someone who has a problem you can solve.
All you have to do is listen to what the customer is saying, ask questions, and offer your solution.
If this is something you struggle with, try our sales planner canvas.
Going through these basic steps will help you create a sales plan, develop the right mindset, and fine-tune your sales process so you can execute sales with confidence.
Step 2: Preparation
Email Marketing Canvas
Step 3: Presentation
If you like our Sales Planner Canvas, you'll love our other planning canvases
Step 4: Closing
Listen, ask questions, and provide solutions...
Step 5: Follow Up
Status Check Canvas
Skip the overwhelm, I can help you make sense of your taxes.
Ed Carter, CPA
If you have received an IRS demand letter or are being audited, I can help.
Small Business Taxes
IRS Audits & Demand Letters
Estates & Trusts
You spend a lot of time and money recruiting and training sales staff, but do you truly understand all the benefits a sales professional brings to your business?
1. Build Meaningful Relationships
Many people believe selling is a job rather than a profession. Many others think that closing sales is just a numbers game -- that if you make enough phone calls or knock on enough doors, you’ll succeed. There is a kernel of truth in the idea that if you talk to enough people someone will say yes, but it’s not an effective way for a salesperson to operate in today’s market.
The truth is that sales requires skill and finesse. It relies on industry expertise and a strong understanding of business and people. True sales professionals are worth their weight in gold because they exemplify the trusted sales advisors you want on the front line of your business.
It’s a given that the primary role of sales is to bring in the customers who pay for your products and services, but the actual value of a professional sales force extends far beyond knocking on doors and signing clients.
As the core component of your business, your sales team touches almost every part of your company from generating revenue, to customer service, brand management, product development, and more.
Today, we’re looking at the top five things your salespeople do and why they’re important to the success of your business.
Successful businesses rely on strong customer relationships because long-term relationships lead to repeat buyers and referrals.
Professional salespeople know how to nurture customers to develop those relationships. They understand customer psychology and see the meaning behind what the customer is saying.
We all know the importance of first impressions. Thanks to the rise of the internet and digital media, it’s not uncommon for your salespeople to be the first human contact a customer has with your organization. Your sales team bears the responsibility for representing your brand and creating a favorable impression.
Unless your business is large enough to have dedicated account managers, your salespeople may act as account executives.
In addition to managing existing customer relationships and maintaining communications, your sales team works with customers beyond the initial sale to provide solutions that strengthen those relationships and maximize the value of your business.
It doesn’t matter if you sell a product or provide a service, your underlying goal as a business owner is to sell solutions to customer problems.
Your challenge is that you can’t provide a solution if you don’t know what the customer’s problem is.
This is where your sales team shines.
The cornerstone of a sales professional is the ability to ask questions and listen to the answers.
As trusted advisers, your salespeople are already in a position to have the conversations with customers that lead to developing new products and services.
In a perfect world, customers would find you organically, but in the real world, you need to go out and find them.
Modern businesses often rely on digital marketing and technology to generate leads, but they will never outweigh the value of connecting with an actual person.
People want to do business with people they know and trust.
Professional salespeople are trained to identify ideal customers and develop the relationships that build that trust.
When was the last time a Facebook or Google ad did that?
3. Customer Retention
5. Lead Generation
Almost every salesperson has had a conversation with a customer that started with, "I love your product, but what I really need is..."
4. Product Innovation
2. Brand Ambassador
If 88% of marketing majors become sales professionals, why don't colleges put more emphasis on sales education?
It doesn’t matter if the business is a day care center, construction company, or pharmaceutical manufacturer, all businesses need revenue to survive and thrive, and revenue is the direct result of sales.
In a world where employers cry out for employees with the skills and education to do the job, why aren’t more business owners looking at the university system to produce graduates with the sales skills they’re looking for?
The sad truth is most schools don’t offer a sales program.
When Weber State University in Ogden, Utah started offering a minor in sales in 1985 they had the distinction of being the first university in the United States to do so.
While they’ve spent the last 36 years expanding and evolving their program into a dedicated sales school offering multiple degrees, only a handful of schools have added sales to their curriculum.
In 2007, 22 years after Weber State University launched their sales program, only 27 schools offered at least three sales classes or had a recognized sales program.
Today, there are 147.
Out of more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, 147 meet the Sales Education Foundation’s criteria to be included in their annual listing of “Top Sales Programs.”
With almost 3 million college freshmen each year worrying about choosing a major that will give them a good job with the potential for solid earnings and continued employment opportunities throughout their career, you’d think sales would be an obvious choice.
But it’s not.
For most students, it’s not even a blip on the radar.
Somewhere in human evolution, people latched on to the idea that sales are icky.
The cliche of the used car salesman trumps the triumvirate of money, opportunity, and success.
It perpetuates the myth that sales is a job to avoid rather than a career to embrace, which discourages students from giving serious consideration to the idea of going to college to study the art and science of sales.
A sales degree is no different from a degree in accounting, marketing, or even medicine.
Each degree provides a student with the technical and critical thinking skills to work effectively and succeed in their chosen field.
With sales, many programs focus on customer relationships, selling techniques, and negotiation skills that give a sales professional a solid understanding of not only how to do their job, but how they will fit in the overall business structure.
An employee with a bachelor’s degree in sales brings a level of leadership and a commitment to excellence to your business.
Susan MacConnell, co-founder of Diversified Sales Solutions Inc., and Smarketing CONNECT in Woburn, Massachusetts, says candidates with sales degrees "have a level of confidence and skill that you don't find with non-sales graduates."
They’re invested in being the best salesperson they can be, and unlike many sales employees who are biding their time until another job comes along,they are engaged in their chosen field.
Schools are just like any other business.
Money goes to programs that generate revenue. If there aren’t enough students interested in pursuing a specific field of study, the school won’t offer it.
To put it bluntly, sales isn't sexy.
Between television shows like Mad Men and the rise of social media, most students think marketing is the best choice when it’s time to choose a major.
The irony is that while higher education pumps out 381,000 business and marketing graduates a year, 88% of those marketing majors and 60% of the business majors will end up working in sales.
Blake Nielson, Department Chair of Weber State University’s Professional Sales program, says that many students don’t understand the role of sales or the market demand for sales professionals.
Perhaps that is the answer.
Show students the value of sales to your organization by investing in the schools that offer sales programs and establishing a commitment from the business world that professional salespeople are important to business.
The corporate world has a long history of partnering with education for other fields, why not sales?
Florida State University, Baylor University, and Purdue University sales programs all rely on corporate partnerships to provide funding, mentoring, and job opportunities to students. The thing that isn’t so well known is that it is surprisingly affordable.
You don’t have to endow a department chair or fund a new building. Most institutions have corporate partner programs that are well within reach of small and mid-sized businesses.
Weber State University’s corporate partner program starts with a Steward Gift of $3,000 and Florida State University’s Sales Institute’s Renegade Level is only $4,000.
When you consider that the average cost to train a salesperson is $180,000 and that students who graduate from university professional sales programs get up to speed 50% faster and have 30% less turnover than non-sales educated students, the return on your investment will be substantial.
The other benefit of corporate partnership is that your business can jump the line to get in front of soon-to-be sales graduates.
Nielson says that Weber hosts speed-dating-type networking events for seniors in the sales program where students can interview with around 60 employers in one night.
He adds that it's not uncommon for students to receive up to 20 offers as a result of those interviews.
That is what you call a win for everyone.
If your business struggles to hire exceptional sales staff, create your own solution.
Why not partner with colleges and universities to show students that a career as a sales professional is one of the few occupations with unlimited opportunities for growth, job security, and financial success?
Sales graduates are focused and confident with a clear-cut career path and the skills to help your business meet and exceed your sales goals.
Isn’t this the person you want working for your business?
FACT: No business can exist without sales.
1. Sales Education Foundation – A History of the SEF ANNUAL Magazine: Realizing the Growth in University Sales Programs
2. Sales Education Foundation – 2020 Annual Magazine, p.1
3. Sales Education Foundation – Universities Teaching Sales
4. National Center for Education Statistics – 2020 Digest of Education Statistics
5. Florida State University Sales Institute – Sales Institute Executive Summary by Willy Bolander, Leff Bonney, and Cinthia Satornino
6. Sales Education Foundation – Key Statistics About University Sales Education
What is the benefit of a professional sales degree?
Successful business owners solve problems
Why don't more schools offer a sales program?
Show students that sales is a professional business track with solid growth opportunity.
Tip 1: Look at the features
Does your business have a unified sales program?
Does your sales team struggle to meet goals?
Do you churn through salespeople?
If you answer no to any of these questions, it might be time to think about hiring a professional sales trainer.
There are two universal truths for sales and sales training.
1. Every business needs a highly trained sales team
2. Everyone who has ever worked in sales thinks they’re an expert
This is not an exaggeration or generalization.
A quick online search for “sales training” brings up almost 3 billion results.
That’s a lot of expertise.
With so many training companies competing for your attention, it can be overwhelming.
The good news is we’ve talked to a few of the experts and put together three easy tips to help you narrow your search.
Shopping for a sales training program is the same as shopping for any other service. You start by making a list of the things you need.
Are you looking for a comprehensive program, or a few key pieces?
Sales strategy and planning
Employee development and recruiting policies
If you’re starting from scratch or unhappy with your current sales system, look for a program that takes you from start to finish.
If you’ve already set up sales tools and a reporting system and just need someone to train staff, look for an option that lets you customize the program to fit your needs.
In most cases, it’s going to be somewhere in the middle.
Christine McIntryre, Chief Growth Officer with Our Sales Coach, suggests finding a program that can be customized for your business needs.
Corporate programs should evaluate what’s working or not working and help you develop a new system to meet your needs.
Even general classes for solopreneurs can ask people to identify specific issues so they can be covered during training.
Don’t let cost sway you.
Sales are the cornerstone of your business. Cutting corners to save a little money is like leaving out a few bolts when you build a bridge. It may hold up for a while, but it will eventually come crashing down.
That doesn’t mean you have to destroy your budget and buy the most expensive training program you can find.
Pricing for sales training is all over the place. There are excellent programs that charge as little as $150 per participant for the entire program and others that charge $10,000 a day.
Instead of dwelling on the cost, think about the potential return on your investment.
Look for programs that have the features you’re looking for, then think about price.
With so many options out there, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find the sales solution you need at a price you can afford.
A lot of business owners prefer to sit behind their desks and delegate sales to someone else. If this sounds familiar, it might be time for an intervention.
As the business owner, you are the person who is most knowledgeable and passionate about your company’s products and services.
You should be the organization’s most visible salesperson.
Taking sales training with your sales team will give you valuable insights into how your business generates leads, closes sales, and handles customer interactions before, during, and after the sale. Training will help you clarify:
Your company’s sales process
How you set sales goals
How to read sales reports
Being the owner of a business is no different from being the captain of a ship.
You don’t have to master all the specific technical skills, but you do need a solid understanding of how all the systems work and connect.
Having a solid working knowledge of how to sell and how your sales team functions are essential skills every business owner should master.
While you can’t overstate the importance of finding a program with a proven track record, you also have to think about the ick factor.
The number one reason many employees struggle with sales is because they feel like they have to be disingenuous to be successful.
There is a common stereotype that says a salesperson has to use high-pressure, strong-arm tactics to close sales.
Selling is about building relationships and having conversations, not being loud or offensively persistent.
Professional sales people ask questions and listen to the answers. It’s why introverts can make the best salespeople.
Pay attention to which sales method a training program promotes. Look for one that uses a sales method based on a solid business model that is easy for your sales staff to embrace and is in line with your corporate values.
For many businesses, the sales team is the first point of customer contact.
Taking the time to find the right sales training system will ensure that you have a solid, repeatable process to not only generate leads and close sales but create an outstanding customer experience that leads to repeat sales and referrals.
Tip 3: Make sure it resonates
Tip 2: Get involved
Selling is about building relationships and having conversations...
59% of B2B businesses don't use email marketing, but 45% of B2B marketers said that email was their most effective digital marketing channel (SuperOffice)
80% of sales require 5 sales follow-up calls, but 44% of sales reps give up after 1 (Invesp)
closing the sale
84% of B2B decision makers start their buying process with a referral (Heinz Marketing)
Useful stats to help you build the perfect sales strategy
Are your sales not quite where they should be?
Check out these seven sales facts to help you build the perfect sales strategy to generate better leads, connect with more customers, and close more sales.
HINT: Customers are looking for long-term relationships with companies who can solve their problems today and tomorrow.
88% of the people surveyed only buy when the salesperson is perceived as a trusted adviser (LinkedIn)
Inside sales have an 18% closing rate vs. 40% for outside sales. The difference is attributed to the number of in-person meetings held, and access to C-suite executives (IHireSalesPeople)
69% of buyers want salespeople to listen to their needs
Phone and email are still the top choices for prospecting with 80% of buyers saying they prefer contact by email and 49% by phone (HubSpot)
51% said they want salespeople to respond in a timely manner (HubSpot)
61% warned sales professionals to "not be pushy" and provide relevant information
In 2019, US companies spent $7.5 billion on outside training with an average of 42.1 hours of training per learner at a cost of $2,326  per salesperson.
In most cases, it was one week of training that was forgotten within 90 days.
Three months later, the top sellers remained the top sellers and everyone else languished in mediocrity, or worse.
What do you think the return was on that investment?
Quick fixes aren’t long-term solutions. It would be great if we could throw money and minimal effort at a problem and get superior results, but it’s not how things work.
Our Sales Coach defies the standard band-aid approach to sales training and focuses on building a solid sales strategy, creating accountability, and making adherence to these principles a habit.
Good habits don’t happen overnight. They need time and a solid foundation that can repeat and quantify.
Christine McIntyre, Chief Growth Officer at Our Sales Coach, says, “We stay with clients for six months,” with the goal of helping them develop good sales habits.
She says all of their programs are about changing behaviors. Our Sales Coach excels at tracking to figure out what’s working and what’s not so they can help clients create a sustainable sales system.
While other programs throw spaghetti on the wall hoping a one-size-fits-all system will stick, Our Sales Coach uses a hands-on approach that combines classroom training and 1-on-1 coaching for corporate and small business clients.
Corporate programs have a four-person minimum and are highly customizable for the client’s industry and needs.
Typical clients include corporations and small business owners in industries such as:
Even the general sales training programs incorporate a measure of customization to ensure clients receive maximum value.
McIntyre says they spend a lot of time developing the client’s marketing plan and identifying the right market so the client can create the best dialogue to reach their market.
Our Sales Coach's trademarked IDEAL CLIENT PROSPECTING SYSTEMTM is used to help you construct a strong business development plan that acts as the foundation of your sales process, to include:
With this information, you will have a clear picture of your target clients, what they need, and how to reach them.
Our Sales Coach founder, Ken Cheo, says, “A lot of people provide really good training, but it’s in the application where you get changed behavior.”
McIntyre says one of the biggest challenges people face with selling is they don’t know why they’re stuck.
The Our Sales Coach program uses group training and two hours a month of individual coaching to hone your message and sales process so you can achieve the desired results that will propel you forward.
Choosing a sales program is an investment in your company’s future.
If you’re looking for a sales training program, focus on organizations that include a well-rounded approach to sales education, personal accountability, and real-world applications for what you learn. Also, make sure 1-on-1 coaching is a key component of the program.
McIntyre says, “We do 1-on-1 coaching with you every step of the way to make sure you understand what you’re learning and are applying it.”
If your goal is to develop your sales team, increase revenue, and reduce turnover, give Our Sales Coach a call.
Their holistic approach to sales seems to be making many people very successful.
Quick fixes are not long-term solutions
Are you ready to take your sales to the next level?
1. Training Magazine 2019 Training Industry Report
2. ATD 2019 State of Sales Training
3. Harvard Business Review: Your Sales Training is Probably Lackluster. Here’s How to Fix It, by Frank V. Cespedes and Yuchun Lee
Changed Behavior = Changed Results
Free 30 minute strategy session
Having a steady stream of referrals is like adding rocket fuel to your sales funnel...
90% of all buying decisions rely on peer recommendations (Harvard Business Review)
Dale Carnegie is reported to have said that “91% of customers say they’d give referrals, but only 11% of salespeople ask for them.”
Why is there such a disparity?
If customers want to give referrals and 84% of B2B buyers prefer to begin their purchasing process with a referral, why aren’t more salespeople asking for them?
Before we jump into the hows and whys, let’s take a minute to define referrals.
Referrals come in two flavors. A general word-of-mouth referral is when a customer tells their colleagues about how great your service is and how it helped them overcome a challenge.
This type of referral is a form of social proof.
It may not lead to a sale today, but it gets you on the radar and establishes that other businesses find value in your services.
The second type of referral is a direct referral.
Direct referrals happen when someone asks your customer for the name of a business that can solve their problem or when the customer knows someone with a specific problem that you can solve.
Direct referrals have a higher value because they represent potential clients who are in-market now.
Both types of referrals are fantastic resources for generating leads -- win-win for everyone.
People who give referrals provide value to their relationships
Perspective buyers save time and have more confidence in your business
You get a lead that takes you right to the decision maker who is ready to buy
This sounds good in theory, but what does this mean in real numbers?
A joint survey from Influitive and Heinz Marketing found that referrals have 71% higher conversion rates, close 69% faster, and represent 59% higher lifetime value than non-referral sales.
Think about that.
When you consider it takes an average of 209 cold calls and 7 1/2 hours of work to get one appointment that may not even lead to a sale, you have to wonder why more salespeople don’t ask for referrals.
The answer comes down to a lack of confidence.
Many sales professionals cite fear of coming across as pushy or intrusive if they ask for a referral after a sale.
That is a counterproductive mindset.
Studies have proven that existing customers spend more money and give referrals that lead to new client opportunities.
Successful salespeople know this.
They understand that it’s smarter and easier to develop long-term relationships that result in additional sales and referrals than it is to be continuously looking for new customers.
This is why small business owners love referrals.
Between the quality of the lead and the reduced barrier of entry, referrals are like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
In fact, Jacob Brammel, founder of Brammel Insurance and Financial Services Inc, says, “Referrals are the most cost effective option to building a business organically.”
There isn’t a universal time frame for asking for referrals, but the general rule of thumb is after you’ve provided the service while the experience is still fresh in the client’s mind.
One handy tip is to follow up after a customer gives a positive online review.
It’s a natural conversation because you’re already calling to thank the customer for the review.
Before you end the call, you can finish with a simple “We’re so pleased you were happy with our service. Do you have a colleague who needs help with XYZ?”
It’s a classic Baader-Meinhof phenomenon tactic.
Even if they don’t have a name when you ask, you’re planting the seed and they will start paying attention when they run into people looking for the services you provide.
Remember, customers want to give referrals, all you have to do is ask.
It really is that simple.
1. 17 B2B Referral Statistics You Should Know (But Probably Don't), from Influitive and Heinz Marketing
2. What You Should Know About B2B Referrals (But Probably Don’t), from Influitive and Heinz Marketing
3. Has Cold Calling Gone Cold? By Dale Lampertz for the Keller Center Research Report
4. The Value of Online Customer Loyalty And how you can capture it, from Bain & Company
83% of customers are glad to give a referral after a positive experience. Only 29% actually do, because salespeople don’t ask. (Texas Tech)
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For a small state, New Hampshire has an abundance of free and low-cost resources for startups and small business owners. Here is a short list of organizations who offer classes, tools, and one-on-one mentoring to help you with your business challenge.
Coworking House (CoHo): Conference room, meeting, office, and desk space.
CoWERC of Londonderry: Conference room, meeting, office, and desk space.
NH District Office of Small Business Administration: Free online tools, articles, and links to partner resources.
Center for Women & Enterprise: Free and budget-friendly classes and workshops
NH Small Business Development Center (NHSBDC): Free online tools, budget-friendly mentoring & business advice.
Veterans Business Outreach Center for New England: Free resources for veterans, active-duty service personnel, and their spouses interested in starting or expanding their own business. Includes information about starting a business, business planning, funding, and other general business topics.
Live Free and Start: Live Free and Start is a collaboration between the Governor's office and the private sector. They offer many free resources for small business owners looking to start or grow their business in the Granite State. This is a great resource for anyone looking to prepare or seek outside funding.
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Forge your own path. Be the person you are meant to be.
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Write your own definition for success and create the steps to achieve it.
Remember, success doesn't have to be about money or fame, but it does have to be something that resonates with you.