If you’re not getting objections, you must not have a very active sales business. We all get objections. When you become a referral salesperson you will quickly begin to get objections to giving referrals. Understanding the nature of the objection and how to handle it will greatly increase the number, and quality of the referrals you receive.
Studies indicate that fewer than 15% of all salespeople generate enough quality referrals to significantly impact their pipeline and income. Though there are several reasons for such low numbers, one of the primary is the inability to deal effectively with reluctant clients.
Below are a number of the most common objections and some ways to handle each:
GENERAL RULES FOR HANDLING REFERRAL OBJECTIONS
For the vast majority of people—whether you’re dealing with a business or an individual client, if they object to giving you referrals, what they are actually telling you is that they haven’t reached a trust level with you that will allow them to trust you with their family, friends and acquaintances. Very few people, if they really trust you, will object to giving you referrals.
More than any other aspect of selling, generating referrals requires you to have a solid relationship with the client built on mutual trust and honesty. The old adage of “do a good job and ask for referrals” has never worked. It doesn’t work simply because it assumes that all you have to do is do a good job and people will give referrals. That is, simply, BS. People give referrals to people they trust, not necessarily to people who have done a good job.
In my referral training seminars, I ask each participant to list as many referred prospects as they can remember from the past year. And then we discuss several of them. We talk about how strong a referral a particular prospect was and what the disposition of the referral ended up being. Over 80% of all the referrals we discuss end up being nothing more than a name and phone number (what I call in my book a “world entity”). In other words, a company or person whose appropriateness for the product or service being sold (need of the product/desire to have/ability to purchase) was about the same as taking a random number out of the phone book. The “referral” the person received was not a referral at all, but nothing more than a name and phone number the customer came up with on the spur of the moment—a name and phone number to get the salesperson off their back. Moreover, more than likely the name and phone number of either someone the customer knew wouldn’t meet with the salesperson, or someone that if the salesperson screwed up, the customer wouldn’t lose much sleep over.
If a salesperson develops the client relationship as outlined in the book, there will be few instances where he or she will have a client who isn’t prepared to give good, qualified referrals. But there will be a few. Those few are simply indicating that either they have not developed the trust level yet, or they have failed to understand what’s in it for them. You, of course, will have to make the on-the-spot determination of which it is. However, if you determine the trust is there but the objection is still raised, you will find some specific suggestions for handling the most common objections.
OBJECTION: I don’t know anyone who needs this
HOW TO HANDLE THIS OBJECTION:
This objection should NEVER be an issue. If it is, it simply means you either haven’t read the book, so you don’t know to go to the referral gathering meeting prepared with people your client knows that you’d like to be referred to, or you’re too lazy to do your homework.
If this is you:
First, buy the book and learn how to generate a large number of highly qualified referrals.
Second, do the homework you’re supposed to do.
But, to go over the same ground as in the book:
Don’t sit down with your client for the referral gathering meeting without having constructed your own list of potential referrals for the client. Learn who you client knows, determine which of these people you would like to be referred to, and then ask your client about each one of them.
Objections are also addressed on occasion in the POWER SELLING newsletter. If you don’t already subscribe, I’d encourage you to sign up now. Currently, the newsletter is free and you’ll find a great deal of prospecting, referral generation and selling techniques and strategies are addressed. Simply E-mail email@example.com and request to be put on the newsletter list.
OBJECTION: I don’t give referrals
HOW TO HANDLE OBJECTION:
First, determine if trust is an issue. The number one reason people will not give referrals is trust. Many salespeople refuse to recognize this as a potential issue. Most insist that their clients trust them. However, the reality is that most salespeople do not take the time and effort to make sure they have developed an appropriate level of trust with their clients.
Assuming trust is not the issue, this is one of the more difficult objections to overcome because it often indicates an individual who is fearful of embarrassing himself, no matter how well you have performed and no matter how well he trusts you.
Most customers will assume that the people they refer you to will be much more critical and much less forgiving than themselves. There are a few people who take this fear to an extreme and won’t give referrals at all. These people tend to mistrust their own judgment and are afraid that the individual they refer you to will be disappointed no matter what and that that will reflect back on themselves.
In order to “turn” an individual who claims not to give referrals into a referral giver, you must successfully convince them that it is in their best interests and that they will not end up being embarrassed. Both of these can be difficult tasks—assuming the individual is being truthful.
Part of the process of creating a referral relationship is informing the client why giving referrals is in their best interest. If your client claims that they do not give referrals, revisit the reasons why it is in their best interest. Explain again that referrals are what allow you to concentrate on their sale rather than spending your time prospecting. In the book, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income, I spend a good deal of time discussing the why and how of establishing mutual expectations, as well as how to communicate to your client why giving referrals is in their best interests. Reread that section of the book and then revisit that material with your client.
The second part of the objection—the fear of being embarrassed is more difficult to overcome. If your client doesn’t trust their own judgment, which is the root cause of most of these objections, you will have to work with your client to bring them to a realization that your services are, in fact, worth referring. The easiest way to do this is to present your client with testimonial letters from others that the client either knows or knows of and is likely to respect. You must bring your client to a point where he or she understands that your service has solved an issue and that you can do the same for others. Getting reinforcement from others whom he or she respects will often ease their anxiety regarding their own ability to recognize a quality product or service.
Keep copies of your referral letters for such occasions. Letters from or to high profile individuals or companies are particularly effective because of the power of the name. Over a relatively short period of time, you should be able to develop a sizable “Testimonial” book. Often the shear size of the book will be enough to move a client from not giving referrals, to giving referrals
OBJECTION: If I think of anyone, I’ll let you know
HOW TO OVERCOME:
This, again, is an objection that should NEVER arise.
If you’ve done your homework and have a list of potential referrals for your client, this objection will be nothing more than a signal for you to begin asking about your list of potential prospects.
If, however, you have not developed a list of potential prospects, you will need to revisit with your client the agreement he or she made early in the sales process to provide referrals and then reset the referral acquisition meeting. During the time between your first client acquisition meeting and the new meeting you’ve set, do your homework and develop your own list of potential prospects. Assume your client won’t have referrals at the next meeting and get busy doing what you should have done the first time.