Ask any salesperson or business owner what their three biggest challenges are, and one of them will be “finding new prospects.” Millions (if not billions) of dollars are spent every year in order to market, advertise, and sell products and services.
Much of this is wasted, though, because it doesn’t actually lead to the relationships that create sales. Endless Referrals fills an important role by acting as a sort of almanac for salespeople on different ways to prospect and bring potential clients into their pipeline.
In fact, I think the book should be called Endless Prospecting, because it covers way more than just referrals. This broad scope (which also makes it scattered and hard to follow at times) is its main strength, because it gives a great overview on the different activities that can generate leads for a salesperson. It allows the reader to pick and choose which activities to implement into their own business. In many ways, Endless Referrals is for salespeople what Guerilla Marketing is for small business owners.
People do business with, and refer business to, those that they know, like, and trust. Do everything you can to make sure that people know, like, and trust you, and you’ll have a steady flow of referrals.
Implications, Ideas, and Questions
- Bob throws out this old sales adage, which he calls the Golden Rule, early in the book, and I couldn’t agree with him more: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know like and trust.” (pg. 6)
- Here’s a great networking line that I’ve heard before, but it took reading it in Endless Referrals for me to start implementing it: “How can I know if someone I’m speaking to is a good prospect for you?” (pg. 31) It’s powerful because it shows a genuine interest in the other person and their business. The only challenge can be that sometimes they don’t know how to articulate who their ideal prospect is.
- Bob gets into a long-winded, and in my opinion dubious, discussion of how to position yourself as an expert. The problem is that too many people try to position themselves as an expert without actually being one. He uses article-writing as an example of how to position yourself – that could work if you have the time, inclination, and talent to write. (Blogs are a useful tool if you have something to share and you can share it well – but too many people don’t and can’t). What is useful, though, is the idea of “positioning” yourself in the minds of your network, which I feel comes from being clear about the value you provide to the people you work with.
- As far as the online world goes, he points out the internet has “tools, not the panacea” for developing business (pg. 125). I couldn’t agree more. In all the training I do on social networking, the biggest misconception people have is that it will solve all of their problems. In the end, people do business with people they know, like, and trust, the internet just gives us more tools to create those relationships.
- If you are in outside sales of any kind (and that includes small business owners and entrepreneurs who have to sell), Chapters 11 and 12 are a must read if you want your customers to give you referrals. He’s spot on with the process, the scripting, the reasons to ask, and the reasons that most salespeople don’t ask.
Should you read this book?
Yes. I think anyone who is an outside salesperson or sales-oriented small business owner will get a lot out of Endless Referrals. I think the first 6 chapters are especially relevant for those who are just starting out with networking, or who want to make their networking more profitable. The rest of the book will help those who are trying to build other parts of their prospecting.
I originally published this review on June, 6, 2009. But it’s still relevant!