Would you like to get introductions to the type of clients you love working with, avoiding gatekeepers and the lack of response to your emails and voicemails. Getting a positive response from these potential clients, inviting you to meet.


Then listen to my fabulous interview with the leading authority on referral selling,  Joanne Black…….I promise these are strategies you can implement today and start to fill you diary with “hot introductions”

Interview with Joanne Black


Hi, there this is Dylis Guyan from Dylisguyan.com, International Sales and Marketing, leader coach and speaker. And as always, of course, you don’t have to be international to work with me. And I got a super guest here today I just absolutely can’t wait to hear from this lady and without any further ado;

I must just introduce you to Joanne Black. And Joanne is America’s leading authority on referral selling and she’s not bragging when she says this. And in fact, her publisher gave that moniker and she’s taking it 100% and so she should, she’s absolutely an expert in her field. She’s written two books and you’ll love the titles of these. The first one is ‘No More Cold Calling’ as you can see from that.  Is that your book Joanne or is it a board you have there with ‘No More Cold Calling’?

Joanne:          Yes it is a board, my book is a little smaller than that.

Dylis:              I thought that. It’s fantastic. Anyway, ‘No More Cold Calling’, the breakthrough system that will leave your competition in the dust. And the second one is ‘Pick Up The Damn Phone Have People not Technology Seal The Deal’. These are books that I have read and I recommend them to all of my clients and everybody absolutely loves them. So you’re in for a treat today so please join me in welcoming from San Francisco author speaker and sales contrarian Joanne Black. Hello, Joanne.

Joann:            Oh Dylis thank you.

Dylis:              You’re Welcome. So Joanne referrals, now there are a lot of sales people who have massive misconceptions about referrals and referral selling. So, first of all just let’s cover what those misconceptions are, that you come across, and then what’s your definition of a referral.

Joanne:          What happens is a lot of sales leaders say to me, “Well I tell my people to go get referrals.” Okay well, of course, because we all know that’s the best business but that’s not how to change behavior. You don’t just tell people to go and do something and have it happen.

And so my definition of a referral is you receive an introduction to exactly the person you want to meet. It’s not just the name in the misconception today especially is that oh you know I can research, I can look at all these trigger events. I know what’s happening in a company maybe they’re expanding, maybe their contracting, maybe they’re going into a new vertical, maybe they’re launching an international presence; whatever it is and so I know these trigger events. I’ll just write an email and I’ll give every reason why they should talk to me.  That’s cold, I don’t have an introduction.

Dylis:              Absolutely.

Joanne:          Or sometimes people will say well just call and so Dylis you might say to me, “Joanne I really know you really well and I’ve spoken to someone here in the UK and here’s her name just give her a call and tell her I told you to call,” right? Well sometimes that works I’m not debating that but the power of you making the introduction with the business reason why she should talk to me, like that. We get the meeting, right?

Dylis:              Yes.

Joanne:          That’s a referral. So the misconception is I could just get a name, the misconception is I’m just going to send her a trigger event, an email. The misconception is I could just tell my team go and ask.  None of that is a referral.

Dylis:              I absolutely agree and I’ve got a great example of that just this week in fact, it’s not B2B but the concept is exactly what we’re talking about here and it’s my daughter and son-in-law. And they have a building carpentry business and a prospective client that he didn’t know had been getting quotes so they were in that “ready to buy space” and they’ve been getting quotes and they had other builders go along and they were really dissatisfied.

So they were talking to a colleague who said, you really need to speak to Andrew Harris, he is the guy who will do a fantastic job for you. So they actually called him.

They called him and they arranged a meeting and Drew went along and the very words they used were “I am thrilled to have had this referral and a referral to someone as good as you.”

Because she was open, because of what this guy had said to her, she was just open to taking him on board and because this guy had said that, that Drew is really good, which he is. She didn’t need any more than that, powerful!

Joanne:          It is, I mean it’s amazing and in the consumer world we see it all the time. Somebody will say to you I read this fabulous book you need to read it. Oh, look at this film that is out you need to go see this film.  People don’t just walk into an accounting office off the street, always going to get a referral, to a hairdresser to whomever. We’re always asking and giving in the personal space so we know about it but now the challenge is to translate the personal space to the business space.

Dylis:              I absolutely agree. And referral selling has been around for ages really hasn’tit? I mean its common sense, if you think about it, that a referral is going to be better and easier business for individuals.  But why is it more important today than it’s ever been in the past?

Joanne:          It’s because of technology. So there are two really great things about technology: one we have the opportunity to research to find out about things we never had before, before we ever talk to someone.

So as an example, I had lunch with a colleague, actually who I met in London last year, and he is American and from San Francisco. So we met there and he offered to refer me and he gave me the person’s name of the company.

So what’s the first thing I do, I go to LinkedIn check his profile, pull out some interesting thing and then I’m going to send an email to my colleague who’s offered to refer me and I have some nuggets in there about what I found out about him, right?  So that’s the wonderful tool we have today.

The flipside of that is the dependence on technology. But what’s happening is most of the world is just typing away and that’s how we spend our days isn’t it? A lot of time in front of the computer, we type right and we’re not talking to people.

Dylis:              Yes. Oh, my goodness that is my hobby horse.  I was working with the sales team yesterday and I said pick up the phone, in fact, I used your words, Joanne, pick up the damn phone.

Joanne:          Yes and it’s not to cold call but it’s to have the conversations that matter. So the reason I think referrals are even more important today is because everybody’s typing away and those of us who were having the conversations were getting in early and he gave me an example of this buyer who was ready.

Many times they’re not and that’s fine I talk to everybody because you don’t know when they’re going to be ready, you don’t know when you talk to them what their issues are and even if they’re not the right fit, then they can refer you to someone else.

So I’m in there having the conversation really building and cementing those relationships and when that prospect is ready to move I have the inside track. They tell me things they don’t tell anybody else, they tell me who’s on the buying committee if there is one. They’re going to tell me about budgets, how decisions are made, who to watch out for, who the influences are. You can we get all this information, the competition doesn’t have a chance.

Dylis:              Yeah it’s absolutely fantastic and I remember years ago I was Region Director for Barclays Financial Services and we got this particularly huge target one year and we were debating as a region how do we reach this?

And one of the areas I saw that was missing, was referral business and it wasn’t that they didn’t want it, they just forgot to ask.

So we used to have printed fact finds come into our office and I used to have them put an ‘R’ where the signature was, where the client had to sign there was a big ‘R” printed on there to remind them to ask for referrals. And of course, this was with people who we had done business with.

And I know that we’re going to talk about other opportunities to get referrals. But what a difference, because when that referral was made and they asked the client, “would you let this person know that I’m going to be calling”, the door is half open. That made a huge impact along with servicing our existing clients I might add so there’s those two elements.

Joanne:          But there is something else that happens when you’re asking someone for a referral, think about it from a client like you just mentioned, that a lot of people don’t talk about this or even realise it because it’s rather subtle but if you’re looking at your bankers behind a desk, that client really comes behind the desk on your side. So they are thinking about your business as you think about it and they’re becoming an advocate for you. Sothey’re really internalising what you want and it’s subtle, it’s different and that makes a huge impact.

Dylis:              So often my clients will say, well why don’t people just give me a referral? Why don’t they refer me all the time? They are really happy with what I’ve done, we’ve got a great relationship but they’re not referring me and they say this to me all the time. So what’s your take on that Joanne?

Joanne:          They’re running a business and they don’t care about us. We’re not top of mind for them and they don’t know what they’re supposed to do. So I mean it’s our job as salespeople to educate our clients and guide them and ask for what we want. They just don’t know, I mean okay, occasionally we’ll get a referral from somebody who said, like your son’s case, so and so told me I should talk to you. And that’s great but if I’m a sales person I’m not sitting back and waiting for that to happen, I  wouldn’t be very successful if they did that.  So they don’t know what to do and we need to be asking.

Dylis:              Yeah and then, of course, you’ve got the people who say well I do ask but it doesn’t work.

Joanne:          Yeah well, there’s quite a few reasons for that.

Dylis:              Come on and enlighten us then Joanne.

Joanne:          They will ask you this way, “Well you know, if you know anybody who could benefit from my services please let them know.”  Yeah so all that does is they check “asking for referrals” off their list and it does nothing because it’s so broad it doesn’t mean a thing and we’re never going to get a referral that way.

So that’s not what we need to do, that’s not getting a client or a colleague on our side to represent us. And so as an example, I got an email this morning from a colleague of mine and he has just offered to refer me all the time. He loves what I do and he’s used my system in his company and so this morning he made an email introduction and it was someone he met with yesterday.  And it was a former colleague of his and he said to this person all about referrals and how it helped him. And he said, “my colleague was so impressed that he wants to meet you.”  And so sometimes that will happen but this person and I have had detail conversations about the best way he can make a referral and what signs to look for when it will be right.

Dylis:              So it’s about asking in the right way and we will talk about that in the moment, the right way but it’s also educating the people who are going to refer you and looking after those referrals.

Joanne:          Absolutely, yes. So we need to take care of those referrals because it’s very personal.  So if you refer me you have to be absolutely 150% confident that I’m going to take care of your contact as you would.

Dylis:              Yes, absolutely.

Joanne:          And so there’s a huge amount of trust that goes into that relationship.

Dylis:              And also you have to look after the referrer, the person who has made the referral. It’s important just from listening to what you were saying there that you’ve had a relationship with him. He loves referring you, so he is confident in what you do. He is confident that you’ll look after his client that he’s referring you to and he’s created a habit in a way of doing it, because you obviously you look after him in a way that raises your credibility and his respect for you.

Joanne:          Well I know it’s important to thank the referrer and so I had it in the past, people have said to me, “Oh thank you so much for referring, fill in the name.” We’re working together, I never heard from the person that I referred so do you think I’d ever refer them again?  No. So we need to say thank you. That’s us human being, that’s what we want, we need to thank a person. It could be an e-mail definitely a phone call but a hand written thank you note. How many of those do we get today?

Dylis:              Absolutely, like none.  I share this with my clients and they think it’s a great idea but I just wonder how many go and do it because it’s creating that habit again. So so powerful and of course in our earlier days, we didn’t have social media or anything like that, so referrals really were very important.  And with social media how can we use those tools to help us with referrals?

Joanne:          Well, social media to me and I’m going to speak about LinkedIn specifically, is a place to begin a conversation and begin a relationship. And so we can have all of these online conversations which I have and then we can say let’s talk offline and then we pick up the damn phone and we have a conversation.

I had a client write to me and this is after we worked together with her team and she said, “Here’s the email I want to send asking for a referral.”  No, because we need to have a conversation. If I’m going to refer you Dylis I need to understand what the business reason is for me to make the introduction, right? I need to understand a lot about what you do and we don’t get that by typing, we get that by having a conversation.

Dylis:              That’s right and I’ve got a great example. Recently, through LinkedIn, I connected with someone, he accepted my invitation, I sent him a really valuable infographic which he thought was great and I’ve got some figures around some research that I’d done and I asked him if he would just give me ten minutes of his time to validate this research because I knew that he would have some really valuable insights from his knowledge and expertise.

And so we had a great call, we actually had a Skype call and then he said let’s meet.  I met and as it happens because I had been looking to connect with people who were within a fairly short distance from me, we weren’t very far at all away from each other so we met and he has referred me into his company.

Joanne:          Oh, that’s fantastic!

Dylis:              So that follows exactly what you said about LinkedIn, make the connection, develop the relationship and move it to an offline conversation. For the very reasons where he could then get to know more about me, then we have the meeting and then from there, he was really very happy. So, Joanna, I’m flying the flag for you, I really am. I’m so on board with everything that you’re saying, it’s great.  Here’s a question for you then, how do you think the old school way of selling, you know that sort of relationship building and referrals, trumps the new technology driven way of selling?

Joanne:          Well, I think we know the answer to that question. Okay, so if we sell a commodity then it doesn’t matter but most of us aren’t. For those of us who are selling services who have more complex and longer sales cycles, people buy because of the relationships they have.

We’ve all been in a situation where maybe a sales person approached us and we love the product and we needed it but they were in your face, pushy, arrogant no way we’re ever going to buy from them.

On the flip side, we may have been approached by a salesperson and they were just the greatest person and listened, they were empathetic and we just like them and we had no use for their product so what do we do? We refer them to someone else.

And the research has shown this, and there’s so much today, research about emotional intelligence, mindset and connecting. And if we don’t connect with somebody person to person we’ll never get the business ever.

And we can use this through email, I had an example the other day where someone wrote me and apologised for something that shouldn’t have been online and she wasn’t notified by her team. I could tell she was very frustrated so I wrote back to her and she pulled the link so that was good. And I wrote back to her and I said, “That must be very frustrating for you not to have your team inform you that this was done.” And she sent the nicest e-mail back, it was that one sentence right but I knew, of course, I’m thinking if I’m in her situation I’m frustrated. For those of us in sales and in complex sales obviously we have to have the right solution, obviously, our product has to be the right fit but unless we connect person to person we just don’t get the deal.  And I mean that’s it.

Dylis:              And I’m sure that we are the same in this respect too. A lot of people, prospective clients, and salespeople that you come across, business owners are spending too much time on  technology but they don’t complete the circle and they don’t take it offline to have that personal relationship and that really is the key isn’t it?

Joanne:          It is, when you think about it sometimes I mean I’ve read a lot of posts and we know this. We’ve been in sales cycles and we’re this close to getting a deal and then we hear you know it’s not going to happen because of our head of whatever.  A good friend of his has the same thing and we’re going to go with him. It’s always about the relationship.

Dylis:              Yes that’s right. So give us your, in fact I’m going to take us back a step to when people say, so are you happy with the product and so on, would you refer me if you get the opportunity, would you just mention my name to people and that’s it? So what should they be saying?

Joanne:          They need to if they are working with a current client.  So those are our best source of new business and nobody is asking. I ask all the time when I speak and I do webinars and work with clients.

Have you asked every single one of the people you came in contact with during the sales process for a referral? You can guess the answer is no,. Sometimes they’ll put a hand halfway up but that doesn’t count, it’s either yes or no.

So that’s not happening and there are quite a few reasons why and part of it is they think that, oh you know that person wouldn’t know anybody so they discount people especially with complex sales.

Another is a way a lot of companies are organised that you’ve got sales people especially in software sales. They sell a deal they hand it off, they move onto the next one but they’re the ones that have the relationships. And so when you’re working with a current client it’s important to check in with them and get their take on the business impact of your solution. What it meant for them, where they were, what the problem was and where they are now and how you actually close that gap. 

So they make the business case for working with you and that’s the foundation for the introduction. But if you’re my current client Dylis and we work together and you’ve got this huge benefit from the program I did with you then I would in a way interview you and find out that you went from having not enough qualified leads in your pipeline, your sales people weren’t calling high enough, they weren’t making quota, your sales were down. To, after working together you have your salespeople getting meetings in one call, you’re having them get meetings with the right person and their conversion rate has soared to well more than 50% and your pipeline is full of only qualified leads.

I’ve taken you from where you were to where you’ve gone. And so that’s the case and therefore I’m going to ask you, but I’ve also researched on LinkedIn who you might know. I’m going to ask you, given what we talked about and the issues that you faced, who else should I be talking to?

And the question is who, because you can’t say no to that question.  It’s not do you know anyone, I mean that’s just so vague and it could be if you’re in a large company it’s who else in the enterprise so it’s your counterpart in other divisions. It could be other companies’ people in your role in other companies obviously you’re not going to refer me to the competition and then people in your network. What do you do?  Who do you know?

Dylis:              And, of course, there is the supply chain too, isn’t there?

Joanne:          That’s right. So you look at who are your suppliers, who’s in your company, who’s in your network and then who are your customers. So it’s the whole supply chain like you said. And we are going to have that conversation and then you’re going to think about people you know.

I’m only going to ask you for one or two for now because they’re going to be great and then I’m going to thank you tremendously and I’m going to let you know we did business or whatever happens. And then, of course, you’re now thinking on my side of the desk, right? So you’re going to be thinking and coming across more and if I’m in a sale situation in an enterprise you’re not the only buyer so there’s going to be other people in the committee that I’ve had touch points with during the buying process. I’m going to be asking every single one.

Dylis:              Perfect, perfect and then what’s your next step?  So you’re asking me and I say yes I know who I can refer you to Joanne I really think you should be talking to David Jones.

Joanne:          So I would say well tell me about David. What made you think of him?  And again an open question, a question that starts with what or who are very powerful because I want to know as much about David, what the business issues are something triggers that for you. And I also want to know what he’s like as a person, how should I interact with him.  So I want to know that I’m going to get as much information from you as I can in our conversation and then I’m going to ask you to introduce me.

Dylis:              Perfect you are a real expert in this Joanne honestly, I recommend particularly ‘No More Cold Calling’. When I do workshops, that’s the one I write up and say you must get this book.  The private coaching clients, that’s the book I recommend to them, you really are the top of your game. So for our viewers and listeners how might they find out more? Obviously, they can get your books on Amazon but how can they find your website.

Joanne:          nomorecoldcalling.com.

Dylis:              Love it.

Joanne:          Go to the website and I encourage you to click on the link about referral insights and my quiz. So I have a fourteen yes/no referral quiz and people find it so valuable because it’s yes/no.

So the quiz is fourteen yes/no and it’s very fast to complete and you’ll see the gaps because these are the fourteen steps, the things you need to do to actually implement a referral program.

And you’ll see the gaps and then I have suggestions there depending on what your score is, so that’s one on my website nomorecoldcalling.com.

I love getting e-mails Joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com.

I’d love you to follow me on Twitter @referralssales

and of course, invite me on LinkedIn but not with an automated introduction.

Take a minute and say I heard this interview with Dylis whatever else you want to say and we start to make that connection. And then of course because we are a global community I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m on Pacific Time and so if you’re out of the States it is a plus 1 and my area code is 415-461-8763.

Dylis:              Yes it indeed we will. Joanne, I can’t thank you enough it’s been an absolute pleasure. I love talking to you and getting your wonderful insights. And as I always say, it’s not the information it’s about implementing the information. So people who are listening to this get Joanne’s book. Download the fourteen yes/ no questions and so on and start and implement it and commit to it. And they will see their business just go through the roof.

So Joanne, once again thank you so much, been a great pleasure.

Joanne:          Same here Dylis, bye for now.

Dylis:              Bye for now.

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