When everyone else is chasing the latest new sales tactic, go old school.

…Go back to basics with a referral program.

I don’t know about you, but my FB feed is filled with posts about the newest “end-all and be-all” of sales funnels and secret ninja tactics that will 1000x your business…

And it’s tempting to chase the latest shiny Pokémon squirrel. However, I try to take a step back and get into The Founder’s Mindset. What’s going to get the biggest results?

A referral program is not sexy. It’s not new. It’s pretty meat-and-potatoes, actually.

And fact is, referrals are STILL one of the most powerful selling tools out there. There’s no denying that the best source for new business comes on the word of your happy customers.

Hal Elrod is one guy who successfully works the old school sales methods. Hal is a former Cutco sales rep and the author of “Miracle Morning: The Not So Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life.”

(You also may remember Hal from day #6 of the 7-Day Sales Challenge–he’s the guy who sent me the engraved set of knives…)

And when he was selling knives, Hal averaged 15 to 20 referrals from each of his customers, whereas most other reps were getting three to five.

So what was his secret?

Asking for referrals wasn’t an afterthought at the end of a sale, it was embedded in his sales process.

“Most sales reps, if they asked for referrals at all, [didn’t] focus enough on it, and they were always struggling finding people to call,” says Hal. “So for me, I would set it up in a positive way, right? I planted the seed.”

Hal would do that at the beginning of the sales call, saying:

My main goal, Mrs. Jones, and I know this sounds funny, but my main goal is just that you like me today. That you like me, that you enjoy our time together, so that you feel comfortable introducing me to a few of your friends, because that’s how I get all of my appointments. I don’t cold call or go door to door. Every person I see is a personal referral of someone I’ve seen.

Hal brought it up in the beginning because by the end of the sales call, they’ve already checked out.

“Maybe they bought something, maybe they didn’t,” he says. “[But] they’ve checked out emotionally. They’re like, alright, the presentation’s done, he’s cleaning up. I’ve got to go pick up the kids, I’ve got to make dinner…”

And when they’ve checked out emotionally, that’s when most salespeople say, “By the way, Ms. Jones, I need you to refer me to a bunch of people…”

Now, you and I aren’t selling knives door-to-door. We’ve got tech startups, run mostly online. “Mrs. Jones” is reading our sales pages and watching our VSLs, not inviting us in for coffee.

However, while the online sales process might look different, this much is still true:

Referrals are one of the most powerful selling tools out there. The best source for new business comes on the word of your happy customers.


So…your challenge right now: In your notebook or Google doc, brainstorm about how you could incorporate a referral system into your sales process.

How early in the process could you ask for referrals? (It’s worth testing an earlier ask, versus asking after the sale is done.)

What would you say? Write out the script or the sales copy.

It doesn’t have to be super formal…think back to earlier in the week when I sent you a quick email asking you to share this Sales Challenge with your friends.

Then, think about how could you make it easy for your happy customers to refer others. What would the process look like–text, forwarding an email, phone calls?

Take five minutes and write down your answers now, while this referral strategy is still fresh on your mind.

Okay, so at this point, you should have notes on SEVEN new sales strategies for your startup.

What’s next?

I’ll tell you tomorrow, in day #8 of the 7-Day Sales Challenge. ;-)

Founder, Mixergy


Previous Challenge: Day 6