The Fallacy Of References in Sales

May 25, 2007

Hello everybody,

I ran into something very interesting today. I had an experienced sales person run into an unusual situation for himself.

He was selling a new product that he was not that familiar with and even though the company was a giant company his product knowledge was limited. He went on to tell me that he almost had the sale when the customer told him that he could have the sale if he could fax over the names and phone numbers of about 5 present customers that are already doing business with the company. What the young man ( remember All of you out there are young to “The Specialist”) failed to realize was that what the potential client was saying was that there was a trust issue. Somewhere throughout his relationship he did not win over the client’s trust.

I proceeded to explain to this sales person that all the references in the world would not change the equation. First off all the good intentioned references seem to always say great things but usually qualify their reference with something like…”after the initial bumps in the road it has been great working with the company”. Something like this or a variation. The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

Also unless you sell everybody the exact same product at exactly the same price you leave yourself wide open. How I told the salesperson to handle the situation is a standard reply that I have successfully used for years. What I say is, “Mr. Jones obviously there is a trust issue here and unfortunately due to confidentiality we are not allowed to give out that information…not to mention no one wants to be bothered all day by people calling for references. I know Mr. Jones you wouldn’t like it either”.

Having said that I go on to reiterate that since it is a trust issue why would he put himself in a position to ask the very person that he is skeptical of to give him 5 references. I could easily have 5 friends waiting for his call to say nothing but how great the company is. I go on to show him how foolish it would be to base a financial decision on this. At this point I go on to re-summarize all the national accounts that are with the company and stress that none of these accounts would be there if the company did not deliver what they promised. I then continue on with the remainder of the presentation and wrap up the sale.

By the way since I am “The Specialist” this problem only occurred in my early years before I mastered sincerity (one of the 8 basics). As you develop in this great profession you will find out that 99% of all the objections you run into can be dealt with long before they become OBJECTIONS!

“The Specialist”

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