Do you dread cold calls? Making them and receiving them? They are tough. Statistics show that if you ring enough numbers your sales will go up, but you can avoid them and still reach your goals. 

The key is making your contacts less cold. If you warm them up, even slightly, you’ll increase your chances to convert the prospect into a customer. If you’ve ever been in a leads group, you know that this is what they encourage you to do as part of your regular sales routine. Work in teams, refer your fellow members, and strike up conversations with people that you share something in common. 

If you are not a member of a leads group, you do not have to join one to start these habits to build a better referral network. 

1. Team Up

Is there a natural jelly to your peanut butter? Some bread to make it complete? Develop relationships with allied services. If you offer executive coaching, then a head hunter is your perfect ally. You can refer each other business every day! You could easily create a co-branded panel card or brochure to present the benefits you both offer.You could also bundle your services. Do you know a public speaking coach or image consultant who might want in on this too? They wouldn’t be hard to find. 

Take a few minutes and jot down your natural referral sources by category. How many people do you already know in each category? Contact the ones you know, figure out how this can work, and see if the people you know happen to already be commented with the people you want to know. 

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2. Who Sent Ya

The speakeasies of the 1920s had a password and also asked who sent you. Anyone could overhear the password being shared but if they didn’t know someone inside the illegal establishment to vouch for them, they didn’t get in. That might have been the first two-factor login! People are the same way when they receive an unsolicited call. They want to know if they are acquainted with anyone who can vouch for you, without having to look for online reviews of your services.

The warm lead capitalizes on someone else’s good reputation or friendship with your prospect. If you tell me that one of my best friends suggested you call me, I’m much more interested in listening out of curtesy to my friend. That will surely cut down on the number of times you have to call a person.

Lead by revealing the referral source so the conversation will continue. If you call and leave a message they might not listen to the message right away. Follow-up with a text naming the connection. It will increase your chances.

3. Find Common Ground

Beyond allied businesses, you very well have something else in common that can bring you together. Know, like, trust, then they use you. That can happen very quickly or take a long time. Much of that depends on the price tag, in my experience. How much do you have to like the guy selling flip flops on the beach? But if you are choosing an estate planning attorney who is going to work with your family in a tender situation, you really want to like this person. 

Spend time in small groups with the people you want to work with. This can be a a lunch with a few people or a meet and greet–even one hosted by someone else, like the Chamber of Commerce–where you can take time to get to know people beyond what they do for a living. Speaking of the Chamber, from time-to-time I will receive a cold call from a fellow Chamber member. I am much more polite to that person than someone with whom I have even less in common. 

According to Cognism, a sales platform, mentioning you are in the same LinkedIn group can lead to a 70% greater chance of a sale. They also say that it might take you eight calls to reach your intended prospect. Seems to me that starting with who and what you know is a way to heat up your sales quickly, especially if you run a small business. 

Get your network talking about you

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. 30 years ago to provide marketing and public relations services to small businesses and nonprofits. She is the author of Laws of Promotion, a 50-page marketing guidebook for people with little or no marketing experience, available on Amazon in English and Spanish.

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