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Personal Referrals — Keep Them Personal

by David Brock on February 2nd, 2015

Over the past several weeks, I’ve seen a number of sales people and teams on the verge of “rescuing defeat from the jaws of victory.”

In each case, they had managed to get personal referrals to people they really wanted to meet.  These referrals were pure gold-opening doors that might otherwise have taken months to open.

But then “stuff” started to happen.

I don’t know whether it was anxiety, a rush to establish credibility, a rush to “close,” or just lapse of clear thinking.

In each case, they took the referral and started to “de-personalize them.”  In several, they immediately shifted into sales mode.

For example, one person I spoke with, had managed to get a campaign where customers would introduce and refer him to key prospects.  In his follow up to the introduction, he pointed people to a 5 minute video of him presenting the capabilities of his company.

With another (this was a standard across the company), there was a “response email.”  It was a very long email explaining the capabilities of the company, with several links to other resources.

With another, there was a brief response, “looking forward to meeting and presenting our ‘products, services, and capabilities.'”

I could go on, but you get the point.

Each of these responses cause me to cringe.  Getting someone to provide a personal referral, “Dave and Bill, you should meet each other, you have many common interests…….” is pure gold.

The immediate response is, “Amy, thanks for introducing us…….. Bill, it’s wonderful to meet electronically, I’ve followed your company for some time and am fascinated to learn more about your goals in ……”

The response might have a short sentence, “We’ve seen some interesting changes in your markets, would love your perspectives on dealing with them,” or something else.  But not much more.

You don’t have to put paragraphs about who you are.  You don’t have to have paragraphs and links about your company, products, solutions.  In fact, you destroy the personal nature of the introduction, by putting in any standard marketing, company, product stuff.

A personal referral is just that–personal.  The only reasonable follow up on a personal referral is personal.

The best follow up is a conversation.  Take the time to talk to the person, learn who they are, find the common interests that may have driven the referral.

Be sure to go to that conversation well prepared, research the person, their company, their industry.  Be prepared to engage in a meaningful way–relevant to the person.  Do not, I repeat, Do not start talking about your company, your products, how great you are.  If you handle the introduction well, you should have plenty of time to do that later.

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  1. Could not agree more. I take personal referrals very seriously and have used that to grow my business successfully over each of my sales stops. To treat them in any other manner is disrespectful the person that referred you and the person you are being introduced to.

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