Today we’re going to talk about referrals and warm introductions. Before giving you a breakdown, let’s ask the question. Why do referrals and warm introductions matter?
The reality is if you’re a sales professional and you’re not using referrals and warm introductions, you are missing one of the biggest tools in your toolbox. Let me share a little bit of data just to give you some context.
- 84% of B2B buying processes start with a warm referral. That’s from our friends over at Influitive.
- 92% of customers are likely to trust someone referred by a friend and B2B buyers are four times more likely to close a purchase that starts with a referral. That’s from our friends over at Nielsen.
So in an increasingly disconnected workplace, trust is so important and those warm referrals are crucial. When you’re asking for a referral or a warm introduction, there are three key things to keep in mind.
- What’s your ask?
- What’s the context?
- What’s the value exchange?
Let’s break those down.
What’s Your Ask
You need to be specific. Are you looking for a soft introduction? Are you looking for a hard recommendation, a testimonial, someone to book a meeting, or to forward a PDF that you’re sending over, or to even make an email introduction?
You need to be very specific about what you’re asking for.
I don’t mean to ask the same thing every time. I mean, think about the situation, ask specifically what you’re looking for, and ask in a way that’s respectful of the other person and ensures that you’re appreciating the time it takes to put it down in detail.
If your ask is to forward this email to introduce us, that’s easy. The person on the other end can do that with a couple of seconds at a couple of clicks.
If you were asking them to help coordinate a meeting — that’s a much bigger ask, especially if you wanted them to come along. “Hey, book a lunch, bring the three of us together.”
Those are big asks; so be thoughtful, reflect on it and be intentional because different asks are suitable for different situations.
What’s The Context?
Additionally, when you’re making that ask, you need to be really thoughtful about the relationship between the person you’re asking and the person you’re hoping to get in touch with.
If you’re asking one of your contacts to introduce you to a potential customer, what’s more important than your relationship with that contact, is that contact’s relationship with the end buyer.
Were they previous colleagues? Did they only meet on LinkedIn? Is there a vendor supplier relationship?
If they’re in an existing business relationship, they could be in the middle of contract re-negotiations, employment negotiations. Being thoughtful about that time and that impact on that situation is something you need to keep in mind.
First and foremost, the prime rule. When you’re asking for an introduction, do nothing to jeopardize the relationship that those two people have.
So for example, if you’re asking one of your former colleagues to make an introduction to one of their customers, you need to make sure that nothing about your introduction could be jeopardizing that client relationship because that’s what you have to protect most of all.
So yes, cardinal rule — be very thoughtful about the relationship between the two people that you’re hoping to facilitate that introduction.
What’s The Value Exchange
And last but not least, the third thing to keep in when you’re looking for a referral is what’s the value exchange?
If you’re asking a colleague, a friend, a LinkedIn connection for a favor, what is the value that you’re offering in exchange? Now, sometimes that value comes on the tail end. Sometimes you can provide it upfront, but you need to keep in mind that there needs to be a value exchange there.
Maybe if it’s just that LinkedIn connection, you’re helping them by commenting, sharing, offering up their introductions for them. Maybe if it’s someone you’ve never really chatted with, there’s a referral bonus — there’s some type of fee, some type of monetary benefit.
If it’s a close friend, maybe you’re reciprocating a favor that’s in return, but most important, consider what that value exchange is and if you have the opportunity to give value first that’s even better.
Examples Of Referrals
So let’s talk about some examples. I’ve got two real examples here that I’m going to break down and show you how someone did this.
The first one. This is a little bit more personal. A former colleague of mine reached out to see if I could introduce them to someone that I’d worked with before.
Now this email has been anonymized to protect the identities of all involved, but you can see here where she’s reached out, given me some context, checked in on my relationship with the individual involved, and then been very specific. Can I make a soft introduction to her colleague and this individual we’re targeting?
Now, the part that’s unspoken here is that reciprocity. What you don’t see in this email is the day before she sent this, she actually helped me out by participating on a panel for a pool of our students. So there’s clear reciprocity and a clear value exchange. She’s being sensitive to the context here. This is a perfect request for an introduction.
Now, in this case, I worked with this person and I worked with the target of her introduction request. You don’t always have that. Sometimes the network is more broken. So let’s move on to a second example.
The second example is using a professional network, Bravado. The team at Bravado are super smart. They’ve built a network of sales professionals helping each other and this is one example of how they make that happen. They’re using a tool to help facilitate more warm intros.
And in this email, you can see an example that I just received. Again, I swapped out the names to help protect those involved, but you can see here where they’re asking for an introduction to the HR department at a company that I’ve worked with before.
So clearly there’s a shared network. They’re indicating they want a warm introduction. There’s a very clear value exchange here, but this approach of soliciting a referral can work on any social network, LinkedIn, Twitter, your professional networking with your local chamber of commerce, either way.
You’ll see they’re asking for the introduction, which then unlocks all those stats I mentioned earlier about deals getting started, deals closing, and those referrals. If you’re a sales rep, this is also a great example of one that you can follow.
Leveraging Referrals Using Uvaro
So we know why referrals are important now. We’ve taken a look at what to consider, and we’ve broken down a couple of examples, but how does the Uvaro network give you superpowers?
If you’re a student or a grad, here are three ways that you can leverage the network in unique ways.
Use The Instructors
Instructors, coaches, guest instructors. We deliberately help build your professional network so that you can leverage it. Asking for warm introductions. Use the examples I gave you earlier. You have a network to do it.
Take Advantage Of Warm Introductions
If you think about the two examples I gave in that first one, our mystery guest was leveraging our relationship to get a really good introduction. In a second example, some good monetary rewards, but not the same close intimate connection.
One of the benefits of being in a cohort, being in this tight community is that you get the chance to really learn what your colleagues are like, for them to learn what you’re like, and to make a much easier, much more intimate introduction.
The Alumni Community
The private network of the Uvaro alumni community gives you a really sweet opportunity to ask for those introductions. Imagine you find a company that comments about a pain point or a problem on LinkedIn. Sure; you could chime in with a comment, but then you’re just as an unsolicited sales rep reaching out just like all the other sales reps commenting.
If you tap into the network and ask one of your classmates, your colleagues, someone else from Uvaro to chime in and recommend you — you stand out and can take advantage of the power of all those warm referrals.
*header image credit to Les Finances.