How My Sales Language Changed After I Started Receiving Referrals

If you have ever attended sales training, read a sales book, or had someone teach you to “sell” – it may be hurting how you deal with and close a referral.

I’m not saying what you were taught is wrong but the sales advice and techniques won’t work when you are having a first meeting with a referral.  With a referral you need to shift your mindset.

One way I see people mess up a first meeting with a referral is to approach with the wrong language. They use cold language by sticking with a cold script and seem to have a “something to prove” mentality. Or they spend too much time explaining the features and benefits following a process they learned in sales training.  Or they spend time asking question after question trying to uncover or find the pain. Those tactics may work perfectly well for a cold or even warm lead meeting but a referral is anything but cold and has to be handled differently.

[Related: All Referrals Aren’t Referrals – understanding the different sales lingo]

I remember going through Sandler sales training and learning to put the different tactics into place within my “sales script” or “first meeting script.”  Tactics like upfront contract, post-sell, pain funnel and others.  These tactics were statement you made or types of questions you asked.  Now don’t get me wrong…these techniques worked…I’ve had success using them.  But my success came with using them with cold prospects who agreed to a meeting.

[After reading this article, check out the Stacey Brown Randall Live Show (Episode 9) where I talk more about why your sales language has to change.]

Most sales techniques – like SPIN selling, The Challenger Sales, System selling, SNAP selling, N.E.A.T. selling and others – teach tactics, scripts and processes to move the potential new client from a prospect to a buyer by establishing pain, building credibility and laying the groundwork for trust to develop.  Because of the time it takes to do these three things is why most cold prospects take a few meetings to get to a place where they are ready to buy.  Referred prospects tend to move faster through the process.

Why Your Sales Language Has to Change

And here in lies the rub with why your approach needs to change when meeting someone referred to you versus a cold prospect.  While you still need to establish the know, like and trust factor with referred prospects, you need to lead the meeting like trust has been established.  Don’t take the trust for granted but work from that trust.  What I mean is go to have a conversation with someone who knows a little about you and already has some trust and confidence in you since that trust and confidence was transferred from the referral source who referred them to you.  Go to have a conversation, not like you are putting on your “sales dog and pony show.”

When you focus on just having a conversation you allow yourself to be more comfortable and can channel all that trust your referral source has for you to the prospective new client.  Building rapport is easier because it is not forced.  And you can focus on asking questions that will help the prospective new client make the right decision for themselves about whether or not to hire you or work with you. Remember people want to buy, not be sold to.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when meeting with a referred prospect.

*You can also download the Referral Meeting Outline & Tips guide to help you create your own first meeting flow with a new referred prospect.  It includes the six steps for the meeting and language suggestions with a few PRO tips to consider.

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Key Points for Meeting with Referrals:

  1. Make the connection to the reason for the referral. Remember to build on the transferred trust from the referral source.  *See the downloadable freebie guide for language to use to make the connection.
  2. Ask questions to truly understand the prospects need. Remember their need was identified by the referral source but you will need to bring it back to the forefront of your conversation.  The conversation should focus on making sure you understand what they are looking to solve.  It’s as important for them to articulate their need for you as it is for them to articulate their need for themselves.  This is how you will know if what you offer will fit.
  3. Expect the prospect to say yes but know they may choose to say no. Being confident – without being cocky – is the opposite of the “something to prove” mentality.  Leave time for them to ask questions as well so you can make sure they have processed through their concerns.
  4. Lay out “the work” or “product” in a matter of fact way so you communicate what it is going to be like to work with you. This is key to establishing a strong client experience from the beginning.

Truth is – I believe you should use the key points above for any “sales” situation and I think many sales trainers would agree with me.  Of course, the only part that wouldn’t fit in a non-referral prospect is the part about establishing the connection back to the referral source).

Finding the right language and rhythm in any prospect situation – referred or not – takes time so I encourage you to test out different language so you can connect better in the first meeting with the referred prospect.

Remember to grab the freebie – the Referral Meeting Outline & Tips – to help you create your own first meeting flow with your new referred prospects.  It includes the six steps or conversation flow for the meeting and language suggestions with a few PRO tips to consider.

When you start using your own new language when meeting with prospects referred to you let me know how it is working for you.  I’d love to hear from you!


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