The easiest lead to close is a referred lead. Unfortunately, not many automotive salespeople have mastered the art form. I’ve developed a simple, six-step process for obtaining referrals that will give you so much more success in developing your referral business that you will make it an automatic part of every selling situation. Start with a goal of just one referral every time, and work your way up to where you know the steps so well and they flow so naturally that you’ll get at least three referrals from every client. Then, memorize these six steps. The better you know them, the better you’ll mine the rich lode of referrals that’s just waiting for you in your current client base. Let’s review the steps in detail so you’ll see how to work with each one most effectively.
Step #1: Help your clients think of specific people they know
When you ask for referrals, you have to give your client a group of faces to focus on. Never say, “Who else do you know that’s looking for a car?” Instead, help them focus on a particular group of people they know. Salesperson: Bill and Jane, you’re excited about your new vehicle, aren’t you? Client: Oh, it’s wonderful. We can’t wait to get on the road with it! Salesperson: So tell me, who will be the first people you tell about your new car? Client: Well, our relatives, of course. Then, our neighbors because they’ll see it in the driveway. Salesperson: That’s great. Are there any of your relatives or friends who might also be in the market for a new car? By mentioning family and friends, the client focuses in on those people he is closest to and with whom he’ll be in contact that very week while his excitement over his car is still fresh.
Step #2: Write the referrals’ names down
When your clients come up with a few people who might be in the market for a vehicle, take out a small notepad and write down the names of those referrals. (Be sure to ask how to spell the names.) Keep your notes out so you can jot down the information they give you. Plus, you’ll need those notes to qualify the referrals when you contact them.
Step #3: Ask qualifying questions
Here’s some information you may want to know when you contact the referrals:
- Where do they live?
- Would they be adding a vehicle to the family, or replacing one?
- What did they say when you told them you were looking for a new car?
- When you get in touch with the referrals, you’ll be able to begin conversations with them based on Bill and Jane’s answers to your questions.
Step #4: Ask for contact information
Asking for the addresses and phone numbers of the referrals is more difficult because your client may not know this information offhand. But don’t let that deter you. You can’t just settle for the name, because there may be several people with the same name in the area. And knowing how to contact the referral is critical.
Step #5: Ask your customer to call the referral and set up the appointment
This step is where most novice salespeople balk. They won’t even try it. But those clients who will make the call will help you comply with the Do Not Call Registry. If the referral’s name is on that list, you can’t call them without their permission. Your existing client can, at the very least, get that permission for you. Also, keep in mind that this question is simply setting the stage for the final step in the referral-getting process. Those clients who are uncomfortable calling for you will be so relieved that you offer them Step #6 that they’ll jump on it. If you had gone directly from Step #4 to Step #6, you may not have gotten the same response. There is a method to my madness here. Here’s how it works. Salesperson: Thanks so much for the referrals, Bill and Jane. You know, since I won’t get to see your excitement when you show off your new car, would you mind calling Don and Mary now and sharing your good news with them? Then I can work on arranging a time to talk with them. If your clients are fine with that, then great! Start dialing. But if they hesitate and act uncomfortable, take the pressure off immediately by moving on to the next step.
Step #6: Ask to use the client’s name when you make contact with the referral
Your clients may not know the referral all that well, or they may feel uncomfortable making the call. If this is the case, let them know you understand their hesitation, but ask if you could bother them for one more favor. Ask for permission to use their names when you contact the people they referred you to. They’ll be so relieved to be let off the hot-seat, they’ll be more than happy to give you permission to use their names. It may take you a few tries to get this pattern down to where it flows naturally. However, you’ll make it a natural part of every contact once you see the phenomenal results it generates. Many of my students have gone from getting one or two referrals to getting five referrals from every client. Don’t you think it’s worth a try?