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I have a small inside sales co. (6 salespeople) and we are launching a new service to both existing clients as well as marketing new clients.

Our prospects are very interested in what we are offering... however, most are asking for references prior to committing to the purchase.

I'm looking for example answers for our potential clients in this situation.

Thanks! - by bluenote
Hi bluenote,

Before anyone buys anything two criteria need to be met:

1. They have to believe they have a need - an itch that needs scratching.

2. They have to believe that your product or service will meet that need - they have to trust you and your product. The more complex, intangible and expensive the product or service is, the higher the level of trust they weill need, and the more proof they will need to esablish that trust.

It sounds like you have already met the first criteria - what your potential customers are looking for is to raise their comfort level that your product/service and/or you and your company really will be able to deliver on your promise.

Since your company/product is new, I assume you don't have any references. There's not really a "clever answer" you can give which will suddenly increase their level of trust. But what you can do is think through alternative ways to provide the level of comfort, the trust and the proof your customers are looking for. Be honest with them about the fact you are new and don't have references, and propose some of the options to them.

For example, can you provide some form of guarantee to reduce their risk? Will a demonstration of the product help? Can they take the product or service on a trial period? If it's the sort of product or service where they need to trust you personally - can you provide references for something similar you did before? Is it possible for you to give away or discount the product for a smll set of customers to get the references you need?

What I would do first is speak to the customers who are asking for references and find out exactly where their concerns are that are making them ask for references. References are just a signal that they want to reduce their risk and need to increase their level of trust in you before they buy. There may be some specific factors they're worried about (maybe they're worried if your business is financially viable over the long term, maybe they're just not sure the product works at all, maybe they are not sure if it can be adopted to their specific circumstances). Knowledge is power here - you ned to get behind the request for references to understand why specifically they are asking for them (and it may be different for different customers) and see if you can meet that underlying need in a different way.

Ian - by ianbrodie

Testimonials are helpful yet I am concerned if your existing clients are asking for a testimonial. Second, it is not for you to gain a referral but you must make it a policy of your selling professionals to ask for 3 referrals every time they make a sale. Do not wait until months down the road, you strike when the iron is hot.

People do not buy companies, they buy people and it is imperative your selling professionals are avatars for your organization.

When selling professionals make a sale ask the client, "Referrals are the gold bullion of my realm, would you please share with me 3 additional people that can obtain similar value as you?"

Good selling. - by Drew Stevens
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