No matter what company you are calling on, chances are that the buying process involves checking references. Do you see providing them as some kind of “rubber stamp” or an opportunity to gain a strategic advantage?

Look at it this way: If everyone competing for the business will provide good references, how can you deliver the best references?

Here’s a process you can use to gain an edge:

  • Ask outright, “We want to provide references that support your initiative. What do you hope to learn from them?”
  • Review what you’ve learned during fact finding. If the prospect worried about implementation or service, provide references that address those issues.
  • If the prospect’s CFO is involved, include the CFO at an existing customer.

Now, take everything a step further (because you know the competition hasn’t thought of this). Do two more things:

    • Rather than hand over a raw list of contact names, include a paragraph with a thumbnail description of the problem, solution and result each buyer achieved.
    • Call each reference and give them a heads up to expect a call. It’s common courtesy, of course, but in addition it gives you a chance to prep them.

Don’t overlook the reference phase of a sale: It can give you the edge you need.

Source: Lee Saltz at www.salesarchitecture.com

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