5 Steps to Effective Selling With Referrals


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Gaining B2B prospects via LinkedIn referrals is the best way to succeed in 2014. Hands down. Don’t waste time on cold calls with a 1-3% appointment success rate (AAISP, 2012). Think investing in email blasts is better? Slightly better maybe, but still an unimpressive 4.4% open rate (Google, 2013). Still not convinced? Read the 3 Reasons why you aren’t getting enough quality referrals.

Instead, invest your time and energy into improving your LinkedIn game. It will pay dividends.

get linkedin referrals

My last two blogs covered Step #1: LinkedIn Profiles and Step #2: LinkedIn Reach. Each post discussed the importance of these social selling steps.

Stat of the Day: 98% of reps with 5,000+ LinkedIn connections make their number. (Compare this to reps with around <250 connections, where just 52% make their quota.)

Today we’ll address step #3 of the LinkedIn sales process. LinkedIn Referrals – this is the real money maker.

Second Stat of the Day: You are almost 5 times more likely to schedule a first meeting if you have a personal LinkedIn connection.

Clearly natural introductions via mutual contacts are the best way to secure new opportunities. LinkedIn is the most effective means to obtaining these introductions. Ergo, LinkedIn is the key to new opportunities. Read on and learn the 5 components to generating LinkedIn referrals.

LinkedIn Referral Database Guide

5 Steps to More Referrals

  1. Identify Referral Sources – This part is common sense. As a startinglinkedin tagging referrals point, identify your connections that could be asked for a referral. These are business contacts with an “in” to someone you’ve deemed a qualified prospect. Think about who can help today, as well as sometime in the future. You could even think about Tagging these connections to keep track of them.
  2. Build Referral Database – Step 2 is also common sense. Gather all of your referral “targets” and create a database. Monitor your targets, as well as your connections who know them. This will allow you to track your progress, and prioritize your targets.

    Download the Tool (free event registration required) so that you’ll be able to leverage your database along with my upcoming blog and tool.

    Be sure to keep an online focus with this step. Remember – the days of trading business cards are dwindling. Connecting online gives you and your prospect more information about each other. If you’ve built up your LinkedIn profile properly, you’ll come across as an expert. Additionally, you’ll have more insight into your prospect. Greater understanding creates a more seamless buyer’s journey.linkedin referral process

  3. Create Social Debt – This is where you’ll need to exercise a little bit of tact and creativity. In order to obtain referrals, you must earn the right to ask for one. Someone you barely know is unlikely to give you a referral. Nor should they. So, you must build a relationship, and add value to that relationship. Once you’ve proven helpful (ideally without being prompted), you’re much more likely to obtain referrals.

    NOTE: Due to the importance of this step, I’ll dedicate my next blog to this topic. You’ll discover the ins and outs of Social Debt. Learn some of the most effective forms of social debt. Master them and start gathering social referrals every day.

  4. Obtain Referrals – After you start building up your social debt, this step is easier. It may be awkward to ask for referrals at first. But once you get the hang of it, it’ll come naturally. You’ll begin to understand what level of social debt you need to obtain the referral. Just like anything else – practice makes perfect.
  5. Iterate – Rinse and repeat. Discover what works best for you, and then improve upon it. The better you get at this, the more referrals you will generate. The more social referrals you get, the more likely you are to make your number.

Download the LinkedIn Referral Database Guide and begin generating referrals today. You can get this download by signing up for SBI’s Sales & Marketing research review here. One core area of focus in the research review is on social selling. Here you will get free access to all of our guides, templates and tools to help your social selling efforts.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this process. Be clear, this is not a selling tactic. It’s not a new tool in a bag of tricks. It’s the evolution of the buyer. This is the way the market is pointing. Social Selling today has tremendous velocity and will become even more prominent. Mastering your Profile, Reach, and Referral process will pay off for years to come. Those who don’t adapt will be left behind.

Having success leveraging LinkedIn and generating referrals? Keep the conversation alive by commenting and sharing.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tony Albachiara
Tony serves in the role of Principal at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), professional services firm focused exclusively on sales & marketing effectiveness for companies worldwide. An industry thought leader, with more than 25 years of experience scaling national sales organizations.


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