Referrals: Using Linkedin to Generate High-Quality Sales Leads

by on October 24, 2011 · 2 Comments POSTED IN: Sample Sales Training Videos

Video Transcript

Voiceover: Welcome to this Quick Take rapid learning module. Today’s topic: Referrals: Using LinkedIn to generate high-quality sales leads.

LinkedIn is a powerful social media tool. It can help you identify new prospects and get you introduced to them. But with all its power and features, it can seem overwhelming. And it hard to know where to start.

In this Quick Take, you’ll learn a simple referral technique that you can start using today. You don’t have to be a power user, or know all the ins and outs of LinkedIn. You don’t need a huge network of contacts. And it won’t take a ton of your time.

First, let’s look at the traditional approach to referrals:

Michael recently sold a major project to Brynne. It came in ahead of time and under budget. Brynne couldn’t be happier. So it’s the perfect time for Michael to ask for a referral.

“Brynne, I’m glad you were pleased with the results. Let me ask you: Would you be comfortable recommending our firm to others?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Brynne says.

“Terrific. So can you suggest anyone who might be able to use our services?”

Brynne thinks and thinks. “Hmmm. Well, there’s Alan … no, wait, I think he took a new job. Um, let’s see, maybe Robin – no, her company’s too small. Let’s see, who else?”

Brynne would like to help Michael out. But he’s made it really hard for her to give him a good referral. She has to mentally sift through everyone she knows – or at least the people she can remember off the top of her head — and quickly assess whether they’d be a good prospect for Michael.

“I can’t come up with anyone right now,” Brynne says apologetically. “But if I think of someone, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“If I think of someone, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Of course, Brynne isn’t likely to think of anyone later. Soon she’ll be caught up in her day-to-day work and Michael’s request will fall to the bottom of her to-do list.

And here’s the frustrating part. Brynne does know some good prospects for Michael. But she doesn’t know she knows. And neither does Michael. For example, Brynne and Glenn worked at the same company early in their careers. She has no idea that Michael’s been trying to get a meeting with Glenn for the past six months. And Michael doesn’t know that Brynne and Glenn know each other. So a referral opportunity is lost.

LinkedIn makes it easier to identify and act on those potential connections. And it allows Michael to do most of the legwork. So he can make it a lot easier for Brynne to help him out.

So let’s look at how that conversation might go if Michael had used LinkedIn:

Shortly after Michael closes his first order with Brynne, he invites her to join his network…

LinkedIn provides a boilerplate invitation, but Michael personalizes it …

[ON SCREEN: Hi, Brynne. Thanks again for your confidence in us. I’m looking forward to doing business with you. Please join my network on LinkedIn.]

Once Brynne accepts his invitation, Michael can view her contacts.

He sees that he shares four contacts with Brynne. Later on, he might want to explore those mutual connections with her. But right now he’s more interested in Brynne’s other connections – the people he’s not connected to.

Wow. Brynne has a lot of connections. She certainly understands the value of networking. She has the potential to send a lot of business his way.

Here’s the hard part. Michael begins to look through Brynne’s long list of connections, looking for people who might be a good fit with his products and services. He examines their titles, their companies, their geographic location – and winnows down the list to a half dozen or so high-potential prospects. It takes a while – but if it leads to a new account, the payoff could be huge.

Wait, what’s this?

Michael has just come across Glenn’s profile. The same Glenn he’s been trying to reach unsuccessfully for the last six months. “I had no idea they knew each other,” he thinks. “This could be the opening I’ve been looking for…”

In all, Michael finds four potential referrals. Now he needs to ask Brynne for her input. He could call her or reach her through LinkedIn’s InMail feature. But Brynne prefers e-mail, so that’s how he contacts her:

He asks Brynne about the contacts he’s identified: Steve, Marcia, Tom and, of course, Glenn.

Hi, Brynne. I noticed several people in your LinkedIn network who might find our products useful. Would you be comfortable introducing me to:

Steve Smith
Marcia Johnson
Tom McDonald
Glenn Eckard (I’ve been trying to reach him for several months but haven’t been able to speak with him.)

Brynne shoots back a reply:

She tells Michael to hold off on Steve and Marcia. She doesn’t know Tom well enough to make an introduction. But she’s happy to introduce Michael to Glenn. In fact, she has some inside information about Glenn’s business that she’s willing to share.

So Michael calls Brynne, who briefs him on Glenn’s new initiative. Now Michael’s armed with some powerful intelligence on his needs and priorities.

Next, Michael goes back into LinkedIn, returns to Glenn’s profile and clicks on the link that says “Get introduced through a connection.”

From this page, Michael can write a brief note, which Brynne will forward. He also encloses a note to Brynne, which will make it even easier for her to recommend him:

He drafts a cover note for Brynne to use. He’s not trying to put words in her mouth. He’s just trying to make it a little easier for Brynne to make the referral. He writes:

‘Glenn, I’d like to connect you with Michael. His company just handled a tough project for us. They came in ahead of schedule and under budget. I think he might have some good ideas for you to consider on your new initiative.’”

The he hits send.

Here’s what happens next. Brynne gets an e-mail from LinkedIn, which sends her to the pending invitation. She approves it and forwards it to Glenn.

What makes this powerful is that Glenn will receive an e-mail from his old friend Brynne, not from Michael. So he’s much more likely to open it. And given Brynne’s endorsement, he’ll probably connect with Michael.

Now, LinkedIn isn’t a magic bullet. It still takes a lot of digging and preparation to make referrals happen. But here’s the difference: You can do most of the research yourself, instead of asking your customer to do it. That puts you in control of the referral process – and increases the odds that you’ll get a highly targeted referral instead of a vague promise to “try to think of someone.”

You can get started with this technique right now. Pick a customer – new, old, somewhere in between – and invite him or her to connect with you on LinkedIn. Or if they’re already connected, start exploring their network and see where it leads you.

Thanks for watching. Now click on the Quiz button to test your knowledge on this subject. And please take 15 seconds to click on the link and fill out an evaluation of this program.

2 Comments on This Post

  1. October 26, 2011 - 10:08 am

    Use Linkedin to find a great referral in less than 10 minutes

  2. October 26, 2011 - 3:27 pm

    great tips

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