The Value of Cross Referrals


Last week I was working with a group, we were looking at more effective prospecting, when we got around to discussing referrals, I got back some familiar comments. We all know that referrals are a highly effective way to grow your leads and prospect base, (yes, there is more than cold calling, and more than referrals), but at times reps and sales organizations place unnecessary limitations on their ability to fully leverage referrals.

The specific comment was that the rep was reluctant to ask prospects/clients for referrals “because what if the person or company they refer are out of my territory?”  Really, you would leave money on the table just because of that, your sales leadership can’t figure out a way to overcome this insignificant obstacle to revenue?

There are number of answers or solutions to this common challenge, the fact that it still persists speaks more to attitude and quality of leadership.  The attitude issue is at the leadership and front line level; while the quality of leadership issue rests squarely with senior leadership and the line managers.

In some ways you can’t blame the reps, they are given a territory, a playground to play in, a set of rules to play by, and one of those rules usually means that you get paid for what you sell in your territory. This is easy to solve, some organizations I work with do double pay, a small price to pay to win customers and revenue, while keeping the competition out. Unfortunately many refuse to, using a number of reasons, most beyond my comprehension.

It does in some ways speak to the degree that some senior sales leaders (VP’s, CEO’s, directors) are out of touch with their markets and what their sales people are facing in the field. Believe me those reps that drive revenue and want to make money are very vocal about this issue, making it clear that if it is left unaddressed, the fault lies with the leadership. Not surprisingly, the organizations that have addressed the issue are usually led by very engaged and involved leadership, regularly interacting with the front line and joining them on customer calls on a regular basis, not just when it is time to save accounts. This involvement creates not only better awareness of this, and other customer issues, but creates and fosters a proactive customer focused means to revenue; simply stated, they lead from the front not from behind a distant desk.

But even if you are a rep working in a limiting environment, why not take charge, and take it on yourself to reward referrals from you fellow reps. Giving a reasonable reward to fellow sellers will encourage them not only to refer opportunities to you, but to pay you for referrals you may generate for them.  They are able to stay focused on their territory, while earning some incentive for asking one extra question.  Failing this, all too often money is left on the table.

Front line managers are in a great position to change reps’ view of this situation, they can create a culture of sales success not sales selfishness, and the rewards extend well beyond referrals.  The fact is that managers will extend the culture they grew up, meaning if they worked in an enlightened atmosphere, where collective success was encouraged along with individual success, which is what they perpetuated.  Others who cut their sale teeth on a team where cross referrals were not valued, or even discouraged, extend that culture.

What’s in Your Pipeline?

Tibor Shanto – Principal - Renbor Sales Solutions Inc., is a recognized speaker, author of award winning book Shift!: Harness The Trigger Events That Turn Prospects Into Customers, and sought after trainer; his work has appeared in numerous publications and leading websites. Called a brilliant sales tactician Tibor helps organizations execute their strategy by using the EDGE Sales Process to create the perfect combination of strategy, tactics, and skills to ensure execution. Tibor can be reached at or + 1416 822-7781. You can read our blog, The Pipeline with new material three times a week, and follow Tibor on Twitter @Renbor.


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