It’s a fact -- salespeople prefer making “warm calls” to “cold calls,” and they always will. Fortunately, if you’ve got a LinkedIn account and a few active connections, you’re in a good position to use the networking site to elicit powerful referrals that make a “warm” call a whole lot easier to execute.
Here are two strategies to consider.
Strategy #1: Targeting a Specific Referral
Say Ken Client is a first-degree contact of yours. You happen to notice that he’s directly connected on LinkedIn to Paula Prospect, to whom you want to be connected. What do you do?
Easy. Send Ken this message:
“Hey there, Ken, I happened to notice on your LinkedIn profile that you’re connected to Paula Prospect over at ABC Company. How well do you know her? Would you be willing to introduce me?”
Typically, Ken will reply by saying something along these lines: “Sure, I know Paula, and I’d be more than happy to introduce you.”
“Ken, I got your note. Thank you so much for that. My experience is that in this kind of situation, an email introduction can work very well for everyone involved. I have attached a template for your review. Please feel free to edit it in any way you want.”
The template you attach for Ken’s approval will briefly introduce you as a potential resource for Paula, and close by suggesting that Paula reaches out to you.
Usually, Ken will simply send your message to Paula, copying you on the email.
You want to watch for that email, because shortly after you get it (ideally within a few seconds!), you will email both Ken and Paula with this message:
“Hey there, Ken. Thanks so much for the introduction. Paula, I’m looking forward to speaking with you. I’m out of the office on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week, but I will be back in on Thursday. I will reach out to you by phone then. What’s the best number to use?”
When Paula emails you back with the number -- and most of the time, she will -- you will have set up the world’s easiest “warm” phone appointment.
Strategy #2: Requesting Multiple Referrals
You can use this simple tactic to leave every meeting with a warm referral. At the end of your call with Ken Client, ask something along the following lines:
“Ken, if I could send you a list of people you might know who could benefit from working with us in the same way you have, would you be willing to help me target the individuals you believe it would make the most sense for me to talk to?”
Because you’re offering to do the heavy lifting, it’s easy for Ken to answer with, “Sure, send the list. I’ll be happy to take a look at it.”
Identify 10 or so of his first-degree contacts on LinkedIn to whom you would like an introduction. Send Ken that list accompanied by something like:
“Hi Ken, as we discussed, I found some names of people who might be good prospects for me, but I need your help qualifying them. Can I ask you to scratch out any names you think wouldn’t be a good fit for any reason? If you don’t know them, they don’t pay their bills, or they don’t need what I have, just scratch them out. Then, if there is anyone left, let’s talk about why you think they would be good and how we should handle the introduction.”
You can handle the follow-up discussion with Ken to narrow down the list of names, and then send him the email introduction template that you created for Strategy #1. You just might find yourself with three to five powerfully targeted referrals you can call with your contact’s blessing. Try it in your next meeting.
For more ideas on the best ways to use LinkedIn to support your sales process, see our book LinkedIn The Sandler Way, which is available as a free PDF download.