The TACTIC: Work the referral factory.

Tactics Sales


“What in the world are you doing?” asked Tim, seeing the thank-you note cards spread out across Bob’s desk.

“Giving thanks,” responded Bob, looking up, “that all of these fine folks have contributed to my monetary success.”

“You’ve only made two sales this past week. How come so many thank yous?”

With a huge grin, Bob replied, “Ah, so, you want the secret to my madness. Gather around,” he insisted, pointing to a chart on the desk that was buried by the notes. “The essenial kernel of craziness, the font of riches, the bringer of sales when times are lean.”

“Right, all that is are boxes, arrows, and names.”

“An infidel,” retorted Bob, “who does not see what plainly is before him.”

Tim was getting a bit annoyed. “Can the sarcasm; what is this?” pointing to the boxes.

“Forsooth, a pox on your doubts. This is Carla who referred me to Bill, Ann, and Harrold. Bill bought and referred me to Mike and Sally. Ann referred me to another Mike, a Tom, a Harry. Sally referred me to Steve, Mark, and Marsha. And so on, and so on. Anyone in a red box bought. Yesterday, a Mike, unrelated to any of the Mikes here, bought as a result of a referral from Andrea up here. I’m now writing thank-you notes to Andrea all the way back to Carla. Without Carla, back two years ago, I’d never have gotten to Andrea.”

“Carla doesn’t even know Andrea; why bother?”

“Because, you insensitive bore, she might. For all we know, Carla’s kid may be in the same playgroup as Andrea’s.”


“Look, all these people on this referral line get a thank you. First, it reminds them I still exist. At some point in their lives, they may need to buy the same product again. Why not buy it from me? Second, they really did help me make a sale, and I want them to know I appreciate it. It’s only good manners. Third, who made two sales in one week which is double what you do in two months?”

“Looks like a lot of work,” responded Tim.


Bob makes money.


When do most salespeople ask for a referral? If they even remember to ask for a referral, it usually is right after the prospect has bought. And what is the usual new-customer response? After a moment or two of a vacant stare, nothing. And what is the usual salesperson response? “Well, if you think of anyone, I’d appreciate your mentioning my name.”

How lame! The new customer gets to escape, and the salesperson gets to delude himself into thinking that maybe his name will get mentioned someday.

Or worse, a name is offered. Why is this worse? The last thing most salespeople want is a referral because now they have to contact the person. That sounds suspiciously like cold calling. And salespeople know that cold calling is a waste of time. After all, no one ever gets sales from cold calling. Right?


Right after the sale, or if you and the prospect determine that a sale won’t happen, sit down at the nearest desk, take out a piece of paper, and draw a line down the middle of the sheet. Point to the left side and say to the person, “Whom do you admire most of all in the world?” Wait until you get a response. If you get a question, most likely, “What do you mean?”, respond with, “Of all the people in the world, whom do you admire most?”

You’ll hear one, two, maybe three names. Write them down on the left side. Now point to the right side of the paper and ask, “Of all the people you personally know, whom do you admire the most?”

Again, rephrase any question into a re-asking. Once again you’ll probably get three, four names at most. Write them down on the right side. You just got three or four referrals. Now get permission to contact them.

“Would you object if I contacted (read the first name of each person on the list), and introduced myself, tell them that you admire them and see what interest there is?” If there is an objection at this point, it will be only that mentioning “admiration” should be changed to “I suggested contacting them.”

As strange as this paper method sounds, try it and be stunned at just how well it generates referrals.

You are building the referral factory. Keep building, and always thank everyone for every sale.


Telling someone “thank you” is not only civilized, it just might make you some more money.

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