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To maintain consistency while building your referral network, consider the following seven steps:
Benchmark: Set a target, and measure the results so that you can improve performance. Set a clear goal with a timeline. For example, one goal could be to see a 10-percent increase in referral business in the next 10 weeks.
Timing: Conventional sales wisdom claims that the best time to ask for the referral is immediately after the close. This tactic is far too aggressive, however. Give your clients time to experience your service or product before asking for a referral. Ask for the referral at close only if they are already delighted with your business.
Prioritize: Not all customers are referral candidates. Choose those who are enthusiastic about your business, and ask them for referrals. It is important to remember your targeted research to make sure these clients' networks include the types of clients you want to attract.
Give to receive: Give your clients extra service and follow-up support before asking for referrals. When you give willingly to your customers, they will return the favor.
Customer analysis: Inform your referring clients of the type of customers you can help. Provide a clear picture of your business's customer demographics. Successful salespeople serve a niche better than anyone else. If you try to be all things to all people, you'll end up providing mediocre service to all.
Rewards: Give your referring customers special rewards. If customers give you five sales leads, for example, offer them something special, such as a discount on their next mortgage or a gift card to the local home-improvement store.
Gratitude: Create a basic thank-you letter that can be personalized. Send it for each referral you receive. Treat your referral sources with the utmost care, and you will not only build a foundation of trust, but you also will keep hot prospects coming to your door.
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Like the rules of blackjack, the rules of sales don't change. Only the stakes are subject to your influence. With the right research, strategy and skill, you can walk away from that $5 table and saddle up with the high-rollers. Don't wait for a turnaround -- now is the time to take a close look at your sales strategies.
Joe Dahleen has nearly 20 years of professional experience as a mortgage banker. He serves as director of sales production at MILA Inc. (www.mila.com), a leading e-commerce wholesale lender, where he uses innovative technology to help automate point-of-sale loan-commitment processes, reduce business costs and increase productivity. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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