Sales Machine – Getting referrals from customers

This is a comprehensive book review of the book Hacking Sales by Max Altschuler.

To be honest, this is not a comprehensive book review…

Why I read in the first place

I do not read books with the mission of trying to remember every little detail that is in the book. I read books like how a treasure hunter searches for treasure on the shores of a beach.

They hunt the beach days on end in search of that single nugget. That single artifact that makes the entire hunt worthwhile.

But maybe Marc Cuban can say it best. Marc ones said in a video I found on the youtube that his best investment happens almost on a daily basis. What is that investment? It’s buying books.

In his words:
When I pay 30 bucks for a book that gives him just one new idea for his current businesses to test, that is a massive ROI.

And for me, that is the reason why I read. Like the treasure hunter on the beach, I do not remember every grain of sand on the beach. I just hunt for that single piece of content (the nugget). The single idea or single sentence like mister Cuban says that gives me inspiration, grant me a new insight or makes me think of something new.

When I read it feels like I’m hunting for treasure. It’s like I’m exploring the book I have in my hands. It’s me trying to get value out of an object that later sits on a shelf collecting dust. That is why I love reading. And this is what makes reading so fun for me.

So now that you know why I read, let’s get back to the review.

As you might have guessed by now, I will speak about some of the awesome nuggets I collected in this book.

Sidenote: For some strange reason – for me – this book had the most nuggets at the end part of the book. I don’t know why it just was like that for me. Someone else might experience it differently so don’t just read the last 50% of the book now. Try to go on your own little treasure hunt.

Let’s get on with the Nuggets

Nugget number one:

Asking for a referral customer

This is a great and useful insight to me. It’s so simple but so strong that I just had to write it down.

So what does asking your customer for a referral mean?

It means two things:
1) It’s asking a current customer¬† (who you know is happy with your product or service) about a potential company or person that might be interested to become a customer of yours.
2) It’s asking a customer with whom you’ve just closed a deal to refer a potential buyer from their industry that might also be interested in your product.

What’s so great about a referral from a current or new customer?
1) They know their industry and the probably will know many companies or people within their own industry that might be interested. So they have the clearest picture of who else might fit you as a customer.
2) Getting referred as a business is always the strongest way of getting in the door at a new customer. People trust customer referrals. I see its effectiveness every time I buy a product on Amazon. I go through product reviews and I look at the people referring a product. Word of mouth and referrals are the strongest entry points when trying to make a sale.

How to do this effectively?
For a current customer, you need a trigger moment to initiate the question when asking for a referral. Don’t just email a current happy customer who you haven’t spoken to for a long time out of the blue. This might even harm your relationship with the customer. Never ask for a referral out of the blue.

Do it in a smoother way. Send them an email that you are collecting feedback on your service and want to get in touch since you value the relationship with the current customer. Make it look like you want to have a catch-up conversation in which you also want to collect some feedback.

Most of the time this is a good enough reason for your client to get in contact. And then once you have your client on the phone try to smoothly get in the referral question. I try to add this in at the end of the call. 8/10 customers will come up with a name then and there. If they can’t think of someone from the top of their head, tell them you’ll ask them through the mail so they have some time to get back to you.

An even better trigger: a phone call when something positive happens in the news that concerns your customer. Pick up the phone or send a congratulation email to your customer. Again, once you have them on the phone try to add in the referral question in there somewhere at the end.

So how would you ask for a referral when the time is right?

I just say it out but be flattering in a way where you stroke the ego of the customer:

“[Name] I was wondering since you are a knowledgeable and well respected [company title] in your industry I would want to ask you a favor, well actually it’s a direct question. Who in your industry would you think might fit us as a client?”

It is a straight-up way of respecting the client and telling him that he has authority in his industry.

What now?

So after following the above steps, you hopefully have a name, potentially even contact information (if you’re bold). You could even have ended up with a fresh referral mail in your inbox if your client is very proactive.

But in many cases, you’ll have to remind the client of him/her to send out the referral email.
8/10 conversations where you ask for a referral you end up with a name of a person who might fit or the name of a business. After the call ended, try to ask for a referral through the mail.

Make it simple for the client. Have a pre-made email template that you send to your client on how to introduce you and your business. The client will appreciate the format since it will save them a lot of time and effort.

So now that you have the referral mail in your inbox be fast. You want to reply within 24 hours.
And lastly, always remember to thank your customer that made the referral.

Bonus tip: After your customer referred you, send them a handwritten card! This works like magic since no one these days thinks of the offline medium anymore. It will make you stand out.


Good luck amigo’s

(learning sales is fun:)