You know the scenario. 11th hour of the sales process and you’re pretty sure you’re in the lead. The email or call comes and… they ask for “3 like company, size, and type references”. You’re now officially freaking out! Immediately you send an SOS message out to everyone begging for this information. No one answers the call. What the… Now what?
Here’s a bit of advice. Never put yourself in this situation! Be pro-active in getting your own referenceable clients and thier letter of recommendation. Don’t rely on others as the only resource. Easier said than done, right?
“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” -Edward R. Murrow
Of course there will be times you’ll need reference letters and/or contacts from others. Maybe larger customers or a vertical that you haven’t been in yet. They should be the exception not the rule however. Here’s why.
If you think about it, there’s not a better way to show your credibility than a recommendation from a customer of yours! Even if it’s not exactly what they had asked for they can see and hear how you performed. A good thing. The problem is that it’s hard to get this many times.
Make it easy on them.
Your customers are busy people. While their intentions are genuine, writing a letter for you is probably not a top priority. I know hard to believe, right?
Here’s an easy solution… Have a pre-designed template for them to work with. They can cut-n-paste the below information onto their letterhead and with a little tweaking, presto! instant reference letter.
I just wanted to say that your dealings with ABC company were professional and always in our best interest. You were responsive to our inquiries and offered a solution that made sense to our company direction and bottom line.
The XYZ product ( or service) is performing as promised. Refreshing in this day and age.
If at any time you might need a reference for a potential client please feel free to have them call me at 123.123.1234.
It was a pleasure working with you.
CEO of ABC Company
Note: You will need to change it up a bit per client so they don’t all look the same. They, of course, could (and should) add specific information pertinent to their solution. They need to personalize it.
When do you ask for these letters and permissions?
I suggest right from the beginning! At the first handshake they need to understand your desire to do such a great job as to have them become a reference if not an evangelist. Then how much easier it is to actually ask for for the letter and permission to call when you and your company deliver.
If the expectation is set early and properly this will happen. Don’t be bashful. Continue to ask throughout the sales process as well. Have some fun with it.
The power of a customer recommendation is tremendous.
For you to easily produce these letters, clients permission to call, either upfront or when asked for is such a powerful statement. Imagine the professionalism exhibited to your potential client! What a differentiator! Also, having multiple references means you’re not continually hounding the same one or two folks over and over again. Not cool.
Stop freaking out over references and take control. With just a little pre-planning and implementation this can become a no-brainer.© 2006-2018 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF | Posted on