Unless your sales method provides processes, tools, training, and measurements for leveraging existing customers as references, you are probably leaving money on the table.
I remember an insurance salesman years ago who cornered me into providing him with names of my friends and relatives so he could call them. Those tactics weren't appropriate then and certainly aren't now. But asking your customers for names of people within other companies or the same company who might need your product or service is a good sales technique.
Some of the best salespeople I know regularly go a step further: They ask their customers to make phone calls or send e-mails on their behalf as an introduction to potential buyers. Hey, if you've delivered on your commitments to your customer and they've received real business value from you and your products and services, why not?
One way savvy salespeople can leverage referrals is through the online service LinkedIn.com, a business networking site. This company provides an invaluable tool to many of their 6.8 million members.
LinkedIn makes a contribution to sales performance and helps boost referral selling. Your reps can learn where their targeted prospect worked before and with whom. The rep can then see whether the target connects with anyone in his or her business or personal network. There may be people within your company with connections to the target executive.
LinkedIn shows you those connections. The site eases the rep's pitching duties and is less intrusive for the prospect. It makes getting in contact much easier from the rep's point of view and much more acceptable for the prospect. LinkedIn is one technology helping salespeople sell more effectively.
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