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Want to Double Your Sales? Use Referrals to Talk to Real People and Get Results. Author Joanne Black says it's conversations, not technology, that make the difference.

By Karen Tiber Leland

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On this episode of the Thought Talk, I speak with Joanne Black, author of Pick Up the Damn Phone! How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal.

Today, a lot of leaders and businesspeople are turning to technology as the easy fix to sales issues. Unfortunately, we depend so much on technology that when it fails, we blame it -- and often forget to examine the human element involved in the selling process.

Joanne Black is asking people to stop and step back from technology and understand how they can seal the deal with referral selling. Topics include:

How referral selling solves the technology-dependence issue

In one study by CSO Insights, it was reported that only 53 percent of surveyed salespeople made quota in the last year. In addition, that number has continued to decline from year to year. Black says that is happening in part because we have too much dependence on technology.

"As one client said to me," says Black, "Did you ever close a deal by email? A big part of the problem is that people aren't having conversations. Sales leaders are looking for an easy fix. Let's bring in that technology, and everything will be fine."

While Black says she loves technology, the key is to take the time to really figure out what the client's problem is, because unless we can solve the real problem, the technology doesn't matter.

The best (and worst) ways to ask for sales referrals

According to Black, people go about asking for referrals in the wrong way. "Many people will call up a current client or friend and say, "Well, if you know anyone who could benefit from my services, please let them know,' but this isn't effective," says Black.

The reason people use this generic inquiry approach is because they feel uncomfortable. Instead Black says we need to be more specific. The question is: Who do you know that I should be talking to?

Additionally, Black suggests looking at your LinkedIn and seeing who in the network of your clients you might want to ask for a referral to.

Creating a referral selling marketing plan

According to Black the people who are most effective in referral selling do one thing that makes the biggest difference. In short, they have a written plan.

"They have a list of people they are going to ask for referrals, and they are asking every single week," says Black. "They don't get to the end of the month and say, "Oh, I forgot to ask.' It becomes a part of their sales process."

In the end, referral selling is about building relationships. "It's not about opening my laptop and showing you a demo," says Black. "It's about having conversations and finding out what the problems are -- not talking about what you do --and sitting on the same side of the table with the prospect and crafting a solution together."

For more on how to use referral selling, check out this episode of the Thought Talk with Joanne Black.

Karen Tiber Leland

Author and President of Sterling Marketing Group

Karen Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, where she helps entrepreneurs and executives build stronger personal, team and business brands. She is also the best-selling author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.

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