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Providing referrences objection

Another basic question... when a prospect asks you to provide referrences what do you say? - by Newbie
Another basic question... when a prospect asks you to provide referrences what do you say?
Do you have any potential references? Previous satisfied clients? Or maybe your company has some for your products/services? - by RainMaker
Do you have any potential references? Previous satisfied clients? Or maybe your company has some for your products/services?
I'm sure the company can provide referrences.

Sometimes I get the feeling that the request really isn't about referrences but more about lack of confidence in me.

I've asked my sales manager and she thinks "my" lack of confidence might be the issue. If that's true, what would be a good response to, "Can you provide referrences?" :confused: - by Newbie
If that's true, what would be a good response to, "Can you provide referrences?" :confused:
Maybe the best defense is a good offense.

Find out why "you" are lacking in confidence or conviction.

"When the man is right the world is right." ;) - by Calvin
"When the man is right the world is right." ;)
Amen brotha' :D - by Houston
Do you have any potential references? Previous satisfied clients? Or maybe your company has some for your products/services?
I tell prospects that I practice 100% confidentiality and never provide testimonials and references.

I tell them that two intelligent people can decide in 30 minutes whether or not they have a mutually beneficial basis for working together, and in my interpretation asking for references means something like this:

"I'm such a dumb stupid ******* that I can't even make a business decisions without relying pieces of paper that are written by someone I don't know on a topic that is not relevant to me."

"Mr. Prospect, I prefer not to work with business weaklings who need third party assurance to compensate for their own inability to make decisions about their own businesse and their futures. I respect that you need references, and I'm certain some other consultants will give it to you. I don't."

Most prospects back off when they realise I'm willing to walk away.

Being willing to walk away from business is probably the best sales strategy I have ever learnt, but sire it takes balls. - by Bald Dog
Sometimes I get the feeling that the request really isn't about referrences but more about lack of confidence in me.
Quite possible... however just as often the client might lack confidence in their own decision making ability and use this objection as a stall. - by Mikey
I've asked my sales manager and she thinks "my" lack of confidence might be the issue. If that's true, what would be a good response to, "Can you provide references?" :confused:
If that's true, aren't you looking in the wrong place to solve your problem? You need someone to help you examine what it is you are doing that creates the lack of confidence your prospects have in you.

It's a tired cliche, but I'll say it anyway: You can't put toothpaste back in a tube. I notice a tendency among struggling salespeople to look for closes and magic sound bites and phrases that will somehow rescue them from ineffective conversations with prospects.

I agree with the replys here. Get your sales manager to help you with that customer confidence issue. It is the most important issue in personal selling. You have to be able to identify conditions of mutual trust and respect before you can move forward with a prospect. - by Gary Boye
Being willing to walk away from business is probably the best sales strategy I have ever learnt (sic), but sire (sic) it takes balls.
Bald Dog, your post is hilarious. As a guy who studies strategy in its purest form, I think positioning yourself to be able to walk away from business can be excellent strategy. But there are more factors involved in doing that than just attitude. In your case, I have to confess, I like your attitude. Whether or not you actually say those things, or just fantasize about saying them, there is an element of revelation in your advice. - by Gary Boye
I tell prospects that I practice 100% confidentiality and never provide testimonials and references.
When considering whether or not to use the services of a Network Administrator wouldn't it make sense to check his/her referrences? When considering whether or not to use the services of a business management consultant wouldn't it make sense to check his/her referrences? And the list goes on...

Personally, I think hiring a given company to perform any substantial service and "Not" checking referrences is "irresponsible". - by Prospector
Personally, I think hiring a given company to perform any substantial service and "Not" checking referrences is "irresponsible".
I don't agree with your opinion on that. I'm not saying that it doesn't "make sense", but I know many very responsible buyers that do not ask for references.

If a corporation has a set policy regarding references, then, of course the employees in the purchasing department should certainly follow that policy. But that is not always the case.

The important information that is being discerned here is that a prospect asking for referrals often reveals conditions of a lack of mutual trust and respect. Being able to identify those conditions is much more important than being able to influence those conditions. I know that what I have just said is a very contrarian viewpoint, but I can promise you that that viewpoint is shared by many of the most effective sales producers on the planet. - by Gary Boye
I don't agree with your opinion on that. I'm not saying that it doesn't "make sense", but I know many very responsible buyers that do not ask for references.
I appreciate your input. ;)

Of course, my remarks were not to be taken as a "blanket" statement as each situation is unique but the principle doesn't change. I guess the closest analogy I could give is, "Look before you leap."

IMO, one of the most common unvoiced concerns that a typical buyer has is, "Will the product/service do the job and/or will it do the job as well as stated."

With this being the case the request for referrences appears as more of an attempt to alleviate a concern than an indicator of "lack of mutual trust and respect."

Regarless of cause, IMO the key to successfully negotiating this situation starts with first identifying what prompted the request and then addressing the issue to the individual's satisfaction. - by Prospector
When considering whether or not to use the services of a Network Administrator wouldn't it make sense to check his/her references? When considering whether or not to use the services of a business management consultant wouldn't it make sense to check his/her references?
I think any idiot can fabricate references. Even Arthur Andersen had glowing references at the same time were beuing sued all over the world well before their Enron disaster...

Personally, I think hiring a given company to perform any substantial service
I think the fallacy here is that you can't perform anything for any company simply because you are not the ultimate decision maker. Some can always screw with your work. That is, you are not in control of your performance. More on this is Flawless Consulting by Peter Block.

"Not" checking references is "irresponsible".
I think for most people it is irresponsible. I've spent a hefty chunk of my life to study human behaviour, so I can read people and don't need third party crutches to form an educated opinion. I put more value on face-to-face trust, respect and candour than on pieces of paper.

But as we know, most managers are grossly incompetent (for more on this see Henry Mintzberg's books)

Conventional wisdom says the past is the best predictor of the future. I don't think so. It is the environment and the way the person is treated.

Some call it the Pygmalion Effect (George Bernard Shaw): Eliza Doolittle married Freddy Eynsford-Hill because she recognised something vitally important. She realised that in Professor Henry Higgins’ eyes she had always been and would always be a cockney flower girl and would be treated accordingly. She knew that the arrogant, Higgins would never be able to accept changes in Eliza. She knew he would always treat her the same way regardless of what she achieves. As she said to Freddy, “The difference between a flower girl and a lady is not how she behaves but how she is treated. I have always been and will always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because she treats me as one. But I also know that I will be a lady to you because you treat me as one.”

Take the greatest loser, treat him with respect and he will move the earth to become a winner. This is psychology 101, and hopefully one day braindead HR managers and control freak sales managers will recognise this too.

I've learnt this in the military where there is no room for error. I prefer to judge people on character, which no reference can show for me. I have to experience it.

Thoughts? - by Bald Dog
I think the thread is sprouting in a lot of different directions--not that it's a bad thing. I'll put another two cents in, but strictly with regard to the original question which was: "when a prospect asks you to provide referrences what do you say?"

First, my web site mentions in my bio that I've closed over 107,000 sales in my career--one-on-one. That's true--not hype--and I'll add that my clients and my field have been diversified. I've sold big three auto manufacturers, mayors, U.S. ambassadors, designers, hard hat contractors, colleges, authors, doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs (Seneca Nation) and ma & pa at the kitchen table. Thinking back, I can literally count on the fingers of one hand the times I was asked for references. In those cases, I told the prospect that I would gladly give them the names of past clients they could call--so long as it was the final thing on the checklist before completing a purchase agreement. I told them that, out of respect for my clients' time and privacy, I would only give their names under those conditions.

So the above is my direct answer to this thread's original question. But--here's the kicker which sheds more light. To the best of my knowledge only one prospect ever followed through and contacted my past clients. And--the majority of that handful did not buy from me. I believe that the reason was that conditions of mutual trust and respect did not exist. I further believe that in those cases, the asking for references was a tell tale sign that those conditions did not exist.

I'm convinced that the information you collect in any given sales situation can be every bit as valuable as the sale itself. Sometimes more so. - by Gary Boye
I see merit in most all opinions expressed here ;). Here is my 2 cents: The world is filled with a diversity of people--Some will buy because they like, trust, and believe they will benefit from your product, while other cynics (or otherwise non free-thinking individuals that need the bandwagon to feel warm and fuzzy) want to see references from names they recognize. Call me philosophically compromising, but I try to accomodate as many as possible, so I work hard to create a comfortable working relationship AND I will offer references to reinforce - by RainMaker
I'm convinced that the information you collect in any given sales situation can be every bit as valuable as the sale itself. Sometimes more so.
Well PUT!

Also, I have a testimonial page in my presentation book, which I point out as I am turning past it, and come to think of it, I've never had a single person ask me to back up so they could read it more closely! :) - by RainMaker
Call me philosophically compromising, but I try to accomodate as many as possible, so I work hard to create a comfortable working relationship AND I will offer references to reinforce
Rainmaker, we all discover our best models. I do my best to repel reference-seekers with my marketing materials. The other day I told a prospect I could give him references after checking his company with his accountant, banker and attorney, and going through the last three years of balance sheets. He thought he had the right to doubt my words but I was supposed to believe him right away.

And when I told him I would work with him as a peer based on mutual trust and respect, he corrected me and told me that he would expect me to work for him as a subordinate and do as he says.

But that's not my style, so we ended the discussion and resumed my listening to some old Judas Priest. - by Bald Dog
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