In my last article I spoke about the importance of asking for referrals and introductions. I described how one can accomplish this either the old-fashioned way, through asking, or by using LinkedIn or Reachable. I have been asked to explore these online applications a little bit further. So here goes.
We will start with the premise that receiving a referral or introduction far exceeds any cold calling one can do in terms of return on investment. Additionally, we will assume that your sales teams are already involved in seeking referrals the old-fashioned way.
Here is a simple primer on using LinkedIn for referrals.
1. Connect with as many people as is humanly possible. Accept all those requests. Send invitations to all your friends, former co-workers, clients, prospect etc. The more connections you have, the more connections for referrals.
2. Join as many groups as makes sense. LinkedIn allows 50 so join professional groups, alumni groups, geographically focused groups, groups that interest you.
3. Maintain a target list of companies with which you want to do business.
4. Search those companies on LinkedIn and see who you know that can introduce you. Ask for the introduction. I would suggest NOT using the LinkedIn introduction feature. Instead use the human touch and ask if it is okay to use your contact’s name to get to the person. Then you are not at the mercy of your contact to introduce you. Send the request to connect and explain why. “Joe Blow suggested we meet.” “We helped Mary Brown with…”
5. Also, learn who your most connected contacts are and routinely search their connections. Go through their contacts and then take them for coffee and ask who of those people would be appropriate to contact. Again, if you want to streamline the process, ask them if it is okay to use their name. No need to wait for them to make the introduction. Then ask away.
It is as simple as this.
Typically, your salespeople will receive about a 50% success rate, which means they get about 50% of their targets willing to talk. Remember it is always smart to ask your contact before contacting the target. This way you will avoid those inevitable situations where they don’t really know each other or worse, don’t respect each other.
This process takes very little time and can produce huge benefits if done consistently. Make sure your salespeople are doing it routinely and professionally. Ask them to create an activity goal surrounding the activity then hold them accountable to it.
Here’s an example:
Download this sales activity tracker here.
Reachable is like LinkedIn on steroids. It will tell you exactly who you know that can introduce you to the person you seek. It will even tell you how you know them and rate the strength of your connections to the ultimate target. It can improve the efficiency associated with using online tools to produce referrals. Have you used Reachable for referrals yet? Check it out.
I hope that demystifies the use of LinkedIn for referral gathering. Please share your comments and suggestions for making this process even better!
Don’t already have our worksheet? See if it works for you!
You may also be interested in these posts about getting referrals and social sales:
- Referral Gathering for Sales: Go Old School or Go on Social?
- Sales 2.0: What the Heck is That?
- Your Salespeople Need to Have Their Own Personal Marketing Plan
*Disclaimer on brand mentions. LinkedIn and Reachable were mentioned several times in this post, and Braveheart Sales Performance would like to make clear that these were not a result of any reward, incentive, promotion or other compensation on the part of those companies. We mention them strictly of our own initiative because we have used them and found them helpful.