The Value of Giving References

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Let’s face it … both you, as the sales person, and your prospect know that what you communicate to them, while intended to be completely objective, is not.

Oh sure, they can view your website, case studies & brochures. But we all know your company wrote them all so how objective is that? Even a professional-looking reference letter can be questioned for its authenticity. Herein lies the value of references.

When a prospective customer has a 1on1 interaction with a current customer (either via phone or via an email exchange), every word is taken as gospel and with 100% objectivity.

So why don’t we use references more often? We forget? We don’t value its power? We think it will slow down the sales cycle? Or is it because our prospect didn’t request them from us?

This module is all about how to use references effectively.  Here we go!

Step 1: Have a documented list of references available

I always have a PDF (that I update a few times a year) with a list of 20+ references that any prospect can contact. These people have all pre-agreed to be my reference so I can skip the “let me first talk to them” step that slows everything down.

The PDF offers the name, title, company, phone, email and business description of each reference and is a professional document with your company logo that anyone in your company can use.

Step 2: Be Proactive in Offering References

Don’t wait for your prospect to ask you for references. Rather, tell them proactively that you would like them to do so. I often say something like …”Mr. Prospect, I think at this point you should check our references. It’s important you speak & hear directly from our clients.”

Why? Because this shows them that you have nothing to hide and it builds their confidence. Why would someone who has something to hide insist that their references be checked?

In fact, in many instances, your prospect will be so impressed by you taking this initiative, that they won’t even bother checking and you will still get the “trust & confidence points” as if they did.

Step 3: Coach your Prospect on how to check your references

As we have discussed in the “Scheduling Phone Meetings Instead of Playing Phone Tag” module, getting hold of people, no matter who you are, is difficult.

So, encourage your prospect to email 5 to 10 of references a standard set of questions. This approach will likely garner them at least 2 to 3 responses back within a few days.

What’s the alternative? Your prospect tries to call a few references, leaves a few messages and get little to no response. Worse, your prospect finds checking references laborious and doesn’t bother.

Remember, the easier & faster your prospect can connect with your references the better for you!!

Step 4: Pick Key References & Make an e-Introduction

While they are welcome to contact any reference on your sheet, think about which 1 or 2 references which, over and above the others, would be the most ideal fit for them to speak with.  Then, send the following email to your references AND prospect:

Customer, please meet Prospect, Title of xyz … a company that specializes in blah, blah, blah. Prospect meet Customer, Title of xyz … a company that specializes in blah, blah, blah ….

Recently, I have been in active discussions with Prospect about their company, their needs & what we could do to help them but I know, given the similarities between your two businesses, that Prospect would greatly value talking to you directly about your experience with our firm.

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