Referrals and the Five Card Trick
When I ask people “How do you get new customers?” at my seminars, referrals always comes on the list somewhere near the top with advertising and cold calling. If I was to ask a direct question like “How many referred customers have you got this week?” There is always a long silence. One or two people may come up with one or two referred customers but from an audience of 100 or more that is not enough.
We all talk about getting referred business from our existing customers but we are not all good at doing it.
How many referred customers have you got this week?
Consider this. If you were able to get a referred lead from every one of your customers, that would double the number of customers you could get face to face with. Your strike rate will remain the same so that doubles the number of closed sales you make, overnight!
Have you asked “the question”?
Every time you leave a customer you should always ask “the question”.
The question comes in a number of formats but put in it’s simplest terms it is the question that will encourage your customer to give you the names of a couple of friends or colleagues who your customer believes would like to do business with your company.
“Just before I go Fred, do you know of anybody who could be benefiting from the fine products we are delivering to your organization. (Then try and jog his memory). Perhaps one of the other local businesses, a colleague, somebody in your golf club…….etc.”
Your customers should get used to you asking this question or one very like it. Your regular customers may even be waiting for it, armed with a name that they thought up since your last meeting. You can even make a game of it if you like, perhaps the “Five Card Trick” but always ask the question.
Five card trick
The five card trick is not a trick at all, It is a technique that has been developed and refined over the years to encourage your existing customers to give you referral’s. The technique can be a lot of fun and very productive but should be saved for your best customers, or at least the ones you have the closest relationship with.
At the end of your meeting you say something like: “Fred, just before I go do you have a couple of minutes to try something with me?” If you have a reasonable relationship with your customer he is likely to say “Yes. sure…”
You then take out of your pocket or briefcase 5 blank index cards and lay them on the table or desk in front of you. You should have his interest now because he will have no idea what you are doing. Then you ask him, “Fred, if you and I swapped jobs for a week. If you had my job and I had yours. Who would be the first five people you would call on?”
Getting your customer to put himself in your position is a very useful technique in selling. We use it in handling difficult objections sometimes and even in closing the sale but in this case we are using it to get more referrals.
You should encourage your customer to treat this like a game. Each time they give you a name write it down on a separate card. You don’t have to go to five, three is okay. If they get bored with the game stop immediately, if not carry on.
Once you have five names go back to the first card and see if you can get additional details for each one. Company, Position, Phone, Relationship with your existing customer, and even what sort of products in your field do they buy at the moment. The more information the better, but again don’t linger here, keep it interesting. You can always find out information like phone and e-mail etc. at a later stage.
You can stop there if you like. You have achieved a great deal already if you go away with five new qualified leads. If you are feeling strong, and the customer is enjoying the game you can go for the big one if you like.
The big one?
If your customer is still interested you can carry on to the next stage. You say to your customer “Fred, if you and I did swap jobs, who would be the first person you would call on?”
Customer “Well John Smith, of course. He is the Factory Manager down the road and he would definitely be interested in your products.”
Salesman “While we are here talking about him Fred, could I ask you to give him a call and introduce me. While I am in the area perhaps he could see me this afternoon, around three maybe?”
As long as your customer is enjoying the game he is likely to make the call and introduce you. And when you arrive at John Smith’s factory later in the day you will be greeted like a friend of a friend, making your job much easier.
The five card trick is a great way to get new business but even if you don’t feel strong enough to ask for five leads you must always ask for one.
“By the way, do you happen to know anybody who uses our type of equipment?” or
“If you and I swapped jobs for a week who would be the first person you would call on?” or
“Just before I go Fred, do you know of anybody who could be benefiting from the fine products we are delivering to your company”
Everybody you call on will know at least one person you could be doing business with. If you call on only 20 people per month, that would be an additional 20 new potential customers every month. Not bad!