You Only Work on Referrals? Really?

Kevin Trokey on January 21, 2019

As we train/coach agencies and their producers to be more effective sales organizations/individuals, we share several core philosophies. One of the tenets of our approach is that sales is a transfer of confidence. In other words, you are always working to give prospects confidence that, by working with you, their business will get better results. 

Of course, you can’t give away what you don’t have. You can’t make that prospect confident in you if you aren’t confident yourself. Therefore, it is critical to keep your sales confidence at a peak level. 

While there are several factors that contribute to sales confidence, one of the most critical factors is to maintain a healthy pipeline. A healthy pipeline is one that has the right number of the right opportunities.  

Not surprisingly, pipelines are more often a source of self-doubt than self-confidence. 

What’s in your pipeline? 

Maintaining a healthy pipeline is an almost universal challenge for producers. When discussing this challenge, we dig deep to uncover exactly what they are doing, or not doing, to keep their pipeline filled and healthy. 

Often producers will tell me with seeming pride, "Oh, I only work on referrals." In theory, this is a terrific idea. In execution, it's tragic.  

Tell me more about this referral-only approach 

When I start to dig into how the producer is executing on this referral-only approach, it becomes very obvious very quickly that this is nothing more than them playing spin doctor with their prospecting efforts. 

What it really means is they aren't doing any prospecting or marketing and are satisfied with simply waiting for whatever comes to them. The resulting book-of-business profile is the tragic part.  

The cost of their follied approach 

When we analyze the typical book of business, we see that half of their case count only generates about 6% of revenue. Think about that. Half of their book's business generates 6% of revenue, which means the other half generates 94%!! 

Those producers who sit and wait for opportunities to find them are going to have the worst profiled books of business of all.  

What if a producer got fired by half their clients tomorrow? If it's the crap half of their book, it is one of the best business days they've ever had. If it's the 94% half (don't tell my 9th grade math teacher I said that), their game is over.  

Waiting is for fools 

Quit waiting for crap opportunities to find you and go hunt down the opportunities that look like your current best clients. If you need a little motivation, here’s a look at the healthiest part of a producer’s book. 

While the bottom half of cases typically only generate about 6% of revenue, the top 5% of cases usually generate 30% of total revenue. Doesn’t it make sense to intentionally seek out opportunities that look like those in your top 5% rather than sit and wait for more of those bottom 50%-ers to weigh you down even further? 

Building a healthy book of business isn't rocket science folks, but it also isn't a waiting game. 

Bonus  If you are curious how to be more intentional in getting the referrals you really want, you’re in luck, we’ve written about that very topic before 

Photo Credit: Sifotography

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Topics: Selling + Process