Satisfied customers, as mentioned above, represent a huge potentially untapped asset. People who have made a buying decision have a natural tendency to conclude that they've made a wise choice, which can be further validated if others make the same decision. Consider this: It is rare to get a negative response when you ask people how they like their expensive new car (even if they've had a less than stellar experience with it). Even unhappy customers want to validate their choices, so happy customers tend to be more than willing to help a vendor succeed by finding new accounts.
There are three common reasons why vendors fail to reap the benefit of referrals from their clients:
Salespeople fail to ask for referrals.
When getting referrals, salespeople fail to ask for a "warm" referral, meaning that their customer will make an initial call or do an introduction. Beyond that, salespeople don't make an attempt to discover from their customers what specific business goals or problems the prospect may be facing.
When calling prospects they are referred to, salespeople fail to go much beyond saying: "Joe Smith is one of our happy customers and suggested I contact you." With a referral, as with all other prospects, your objective is to have the prospect share a business goal or problem so you can start selling. One of the best ways to do that is to share a Success Story for the customer that referred you. One of the easiest circumstances in which to make the connection is when the titles of both your customer and the referral are the same. When they are not, be sure you are attempting to relate to business issues the prospect is facing. Go into the meeting with a plan, including a menu of potential goals for the person you are calling on.