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Don't Ask, Don't Sell

This is a podcast episode titled, Don't Ask, Don't Sell. The summary for this episode is: <p>Sometimes the best way to get valuable information is simply to just ask, and that applies to sales referrals.</p><p><br></p><p>In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl welcomes Graham Eisner, the brilliant author and Founder at Eisner Consultancy to talk about using the Just Ask method for getting leads through referrals - at no cost! Darryl and Graham will drill down on why getting out there and just asking is 30% of the job done. They also share how to execute this tactic properly, as well as the seven steps you should be using. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to overcome all the excuses for not just asking in the first place.</p><p><br></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Subscribe now and find out how to drop the negative mindset holding you back from just asking your clients for referrals.</a></p>
Let's set the stage for the audience
02:56 MIN
Make sure that you follow up!
03:15 MIN
How to get that soundtrack out of my head?
03:16 MIN
Who is my client? Start with that
03:58 MIN

Today's Guest

Guest Thumbnail

Graham Eisner

|Founder of Eisner Consulting

Darryl Praill: How's everybody doing today? Kids, it is so dynamite to be back with you. I am having fun. I'm having fun. I'm having fun these days. We kind of go down this journey together, you and I. Sometimes I'm in a good mood. Sometimes you're in a good mood. Sometimes I'm having success. Sometimes you're having success. Sometimes we're aligned. Often we're not. That's the path we're on. Right? I mean, you get that. What's interesting is that when I looked at when we're not having success, when we're struggling, I occasionally see some recurring patterns in my team. Now, why do I not have success? Well, mostly because I'm a moron. So I can just use that umbrella term there and tell you that I still do stupid things. And I'm in my early fifties. So there you have it. But as for you, because I'm going to assume, based on the demographic of my show, you're a lot younger. Sometimes our issues we have are self inflicted. I mean, can you agree with that? Like you didn't study for the test, you failed the test. That's self inflicted. We've all been there. You didn't research the prospect before you called them, and then when you get on the phone with them, it's very clear quickly that the call goes off the rails because you don't know anything about them. That's self inflicted. You sent an email or a personalized social media touch to a prospect and you might have quoted one of your case studies who ironically happens to be the competition of the person you're emailing, and they're offended because you're saying that they do it right, the competition does, your client, and the prospect doesn't. And that's because you didn't research it and they're offended. You lose a deal. You lose a deal. And when it comes around to why you lost that deal, it was because, so and so whom you never talked to is the true economic decision maker. They are the VETO, the very important top officer, and they overrode all of the good work you did because they have supreme power and they went with a different vendor of their choice, because you made some assumptions. One of the things I see over and over again, when I drill down with my team is, I'll say," Well, why didn't you know this? I understand you had a bad day, or I understand that this deal's not going the way you thought it was going to go because it's taken a left turn when you thought it was smooth sailing. So something's happened. Why? Why are you here?" And what it comes down to is they say," Well, I never knew. I talked to everybody. It never came up." And I'll say," Did you just ask? Did you just ask for that information?"" No." Then I get, shifting gears, I get dynamics amongst the team or dynamics between the team and the rest of the company. And there's a lot of assumptions being made. And everybody's feverishly texting each other, texting, texting, texting. And I have to go to them, and I have to say," Just for the love of God and your sanity, put down the damn text machine, Slack, email. Pick up the phone, have a live conversation and just ask. Just ask." It's amazing the information you can get when you just ask. Do you see a theme here, kids? I'm kind of saying two words over and over again. Now, I'm using this as an example of conflict resolution, of problem discovery, of situational awareness. But here's the beauty of just ask. The beauty of just ask is that this same tactic, this same technique can be used for good. It can be used to make your life exponentially better, your pipeline much bigger, your commission checks much fatter, and your management much giddier. And that is when you just ask for a referral. Now, we've talked about this. We've had this conversation. It's been a long time. And you know this, I mean, there's every single expert out there who've talked about just ask, get the referral, get the referral. It's the easiest lead you'll ever get, zero cost. And it's warm. They'll probably even make the introduction for you. And yet so many of you don't. So if you're listening to this podcast right now and you're going, ugh, I wish my pipeline was bigger. It's not a 2X or 3X, my target. A simple thing you should be doing is just ask for the referral. You see, that's a theme in life, just ask. It works in work. It works in relationships. It works in school. It just works. You just ask. All right, I'm beating this dead horse, but I think you can understand where I'm going with this. Today's theme is just ask. And I thought to myself, who do I know, who do I know that can expound intelligently on just ask, maybe in the context of anything we talked about, but because this is sales, ideally, in the context of referrals. And then maybe the skills you learn there, you can apply elsewhere so you can do problem resolution. And I thought, wouldn't the author of the book that was just launched called Just Ask be the right guy? Because I think it would. If you don't know, if you're near a computer, go on Amazon, go to Google, type in, just ask, because the fellow you want to meet is Graham Eisner, leading expert in UK and Europe on asking for client referrals, founder at Eisner Consultancy. You can find him at www. Graham- eisner, E- I- S- N- E- R. com, and also the author of Just Ask. Graham, how are you, my friend?

Graham Eisner: Darryl, very, very good. Very good to hear you. I'm very well. How are you?

Darryl Praill: That's good. How did I do? Did I do okay with the setup?

Graham Eisner: You did very well because just asking is the key. And you definitely got it out there many times. That's excellent.

Darryl Praill: Yeah. Well, they say, in marketing and in sales and in PR the whole point is to say it over and over and over again. In fact, folks, as we all know, because VanillaSoft, sales and engagement vendor, one of the things we say is you want to do touches 9, 10, 12 times or more before they'll finally respond. Why? You're doing repetition. And guess what I just did? I did a boatload of repetition on just ask. And if anything else, you're going to leave this conversation, you're going to say," Just ask." And then it's going to be stuck in your head. And that's what you're going to remember. And then you're going to say," And that's right. Graham said I can just ask by doing X and Y and Z or Zed, depending on what side of the ocean you're on. So there you go. Graham, talk to me about Just Ask. Talk to me about client referrals. Let's kind of set the stage for the audience. What was the inspiration for the book? And why you? Why are you at all credible to talk about this? I mean you look like a handsome chap, but why you?

Graham Eisner: So all my life in business, my aim is to be able to get at the warmest lead. Where is the easiest opportunity in whichever part of business I've been in? And for me, that has always been about asking the people that know me best. So one is, finding those people that know me best. And secondly, it's then about just asking. Why me? I worked for 10 years at Goldman Sachs in the private client area. And I was known to basically get out there and ask more people, I knew more people than anyone internally in order to carry out the just asking that we're talking about. And the last 20 years, all I've done is focus on one thing, training salespeople, entrepreneurs, teams on how to increase their client list by asking for referrals. So that's my 30 years. And then the last two has been just concentrating on putting it all into a book, Just Ask. In my experience, the just ask bit, that's 30% of it. We need to get out there and just ask. And many people, you said this earlier, they know it's something they should do, but they just don't do it. And even in many ways, it's not even in a lot of training in firms, it's sort of this hidden concept. And why is that? There are so many reasons. I mean, could just be, they forget to ask in a meeting or they just get too busy in a meeting, or they just feel it's not the right time. But most often, there's so much going on their heads that's holding them back. It's a bit salesy. It's a bit too pushy. It's an uncomfortable conversation. It's all about the client. I shouldn't be asking something from the client. The client isn't so well connected. It's not the perfect time. I don't know them so well. It's too early. It's too late. There are so many reasons why people just don't ask. So ultimately, when it comes down to it, they ignore it. And then if they do ask, they don't ask perhaps in a way that's very well executed. So in my mind, the way I train on it is, I have a seven step process just very quickly. And you sort of mentioned it before about preparation. First of all, who is that one person that my client knows that is perfect. I know the sort of client I'm looking for. I've had many meetings with this client. Who's the perfect client, first of all? Do I know that possible referral? The next is, I need to find what I call a bridge line that introduces the subject. It's not, in my opinion, just literally going in and saying," Hey do you know someone?" It's thoughtful. It's really thought out, who is the person? And what's the right line that's going to make them comfortable to give it to me? So am I asking them for general feedback on the relationship? And that actually is not just in the last month's feedback, it's on the five years. And from that, that's warm. They're really going to recognize the importance of working with you. And it's very easy for them to go," I'd love to help you on something." Should I continue going on the steps just very quickly, finish them off?

Darryl Praill: Do it. Just get them out there and then we can drill down on them.

Graham Eisner: Okay. So that's the second one. I've got to find the bridge line. That could be, ask for feedback, that could be talking about the history of the relationship, that could be talking about some of the USPs and values they've appreciated with your firm. That could be just on the fact that you've known each other a very, very long time and there's a lot of trust and service. You've got to find like a bridge line to introduce it. And then I think what's really important is, only to ask for one name and be really, really specific. Most people will say,"Is there anyone that you know? Any one of your family, friends, contacts? If you just ask for one particular name, it's much easier for someone to take it in at that moment. And then we need to actually qualify what we're looking for. Be really, really specific. And that way the client is kind of drilling in their brain and they're working and they're kind of think of one name. And then we have to listen to what they have to say. They might say," Hey, Graham, let me think about that." Now many people would think that's a FOBO. But it isn't actually a FOBO if it's," Oh, that's perfect. I need to get back to you in about 10 days. Do you mind about certain things in this meeting? Do you mind if I come back to you and ask you then for that one name you're thinking of?" Or they might say," Yeah. There is someone." And the amazing thing at that point, people wouldn't even follow up and go," Oh, do you mind if I asked you who it is?" So then we need to ask who it is. And then the last part that's really super important is ensuring it actually happens in the way that's most powerful for you. And that's not perhaps that they bring this person along for a drink, or that they give you a phone number or they give you an email. No. What you really want to do is you want them, your client, to phone this person up, meet them and say something about you, something that's strong about the service, the trust, something that is special about the relationship, and they really suggest you meet for a coffee. So they're kind of setting it up for you. And I use a line, something like," What's really powerful for me, or what's worked really well for me in the past is..." And the last, last part is once they're going ahead and they're going to go and do this, you set up that you could follow it up. So you say," Look, Darryl, I know how busy you get. If in a week or 10 days I haven't heard from you, can I just follow up on this and just give you a nudge to make that call for me?" So in brief, that's kind of seven steps to ensuring that getting a referral is, hopefully, more successful, as successful as you can get it.

Darryl Praill: Okay. So I got seven and a half steps out of that one. Which is your last one, making sure you follow up if it doesn't happen, even though they commit to it. But either way, I love it. I wrote down all seven as Graham was going through it, because I just want to review it. Who is it my client knows is the perfect referral? So that's a simple LinkedIn search or what have you, right? Or maybe you got ZoomInfo. Who the hell knows? But you get the idea. But you need to know who your perfect client is. I need to introduce a bridge line to bring up the subject with my client. I love that. In other words, what's your excuse? Again, folks, if you ever dated and there was a pretty person you wanted to go introduce yourself to, you had to go and have a bridge line to make that happen. My favorite one was How I Met Your Mother, the show. And the favorite line that Barney always used was," Have you met Darryl?" That was the bridge line every single time. It was just, put it out there and then Darryl would step up and start talking to the pretty person. Only ask for one name. Nice. Focused. I like it. Qualify what you're looking for. You got to be really specific. That makes it easier for the person to physically say," Okay, then. This is what you want." Listen to what they say. Ask who it is. Make sure it actually happens. So you know what's interesting here? In those seven steps, what I didn't hear you say, but you opened it up by kind of saying, why are we in this boat in the first place? I didn't hear you address how to get out of your head all those excuses for not doing this in the first place. So let's start there, the very root or the beginning. For everybody who says, and you nailed it. You're like," Yeah, it's not the right time. I don't know how to do it. It feels salesy, whatever. I don't want to distract from what's going on now. Blah, blah, blah." How do I get that soundtrack out of my head? What do I need to do?

Graham Eisner: Well, the first thing we need to realize is that it really is in our head. Because if I take any of those, it's too salesy. Well, really? Is it too salesy? If you really take what referral is, it's a privilege. You feel for your company. You are proud of your company. You do well for your client. They enjoy working with you. So for them to introduce someone else to you to get all those privileges and those things they've experienced, that's a great thing. So that's sort of something to clear out of our own head, that sort of negativity. It's an uncomfortable conversation. Well, that's probably coming as uncomfortable from your mind. We don't know the client might, it's actually a statistic that 60% of clients want to give you a referral, but only 10 or 20% get asked. So we think that the client would be uncomfortable. That's us thinking it. That's our own projections. And that could come from our own physiological background, our own way of forming relationships, lots of different things. We think they're not connected, where they may not know anyone. Well, how do we know that? This comes back to just ask. We make so many assumptions about what the client is, what the client isn't. And what I'm proposing is for everyone to actually think that, you know what, we can ask absolutely everyone. What I get people to do is, if you put down all your clients and you put down, what is the negative mindset that's holding you back from asking. Every single one of those really doesn't have to actually stand. I mean, I can go through them all. We don't have to at this point. But that's the point, is to recognize that everyone can be asked. Everyone can be asked for a referral.

Darryl Praill: So what you might find so interesting is, there's like a disconnect. So we're talking to sales reps whose whole life is essentially, and I say this with respect, but let's be honest, is to interrupt the lives of total strangers so that I can present them an opportunity to improve their processes and their success using my product or my service. But it's an interruption. Now yes, if they answer the phone, then there's an implicit approval of that interruption. But it starts with interruption. So if it starts with an interruption, and that's what they do every single day, I'm still stuck in understanding why they fear this. Is it because a relationship has now been formed, where before they were just complete strangers, but now there's a relationship? Is that what's really in it?

Graham Eisner: Well, if there is a relationship, which we know there is, and it's been developed and they've started to use the products and services of this salesperson, ultimately this is exactly on the right trajectory. And at the right moment, which a lot of people do delay that moment. But at a good moment, when you know this client and they've got to know your firm and your value and your service and your products, it's a very reasonable time to ask for a referral. And just remember that once you've asked for one referral and you receive it, they know that's how you build your business. And that person that's referred also knows that's how you build your business. So ultimately, you are receiving this networking effect of asking for referrals.

Darryl Praill: So folks, I'm going to give you a big, thank you. And actually it's not me giving you, it's Graham giving it to you. So I shared the website, graham- eisner. com. But what's interesting is if you do this, and I admit to fully multitasking while I'm talking to Graham, because it's compelling stuff here. I went to his website. I clicked on, I think it was his just ask overview of the book, you see that in the top navigation. And in the bottom right corner, you'll see a thing called download worksheets. And what's brilliant about this download worksheets is that, and this is completely coincidental, the first thing I see on this worksheet is, okay, and clearly it's taken from his book. It's page 34. So he's given you a free abstract. And what does it talk about? It talks about mindsets that are holding you back from asking for referrals. Is that fate or what? And he goes through the whole process he's given us. My goodness. I'm just going through this. This is crazy. I see 22 different reasons why you might have a mindset that would prevent you from doing it. And then he helps you document that process so you can actually start working around it. And the worksheet goes on, helps you create a client referral list. So let's talk a little bit about that. So as we go into your seven steps, let's say, I can get past the mindset. Now I'm doing it. You said," Only ask for one name." But it all started off with, who is it that my client knows is the perfect referral. So that's a tough one. How do I determine that one name? How do I research it? What have you seen work best? And if I have a list of 3, 4, 5, 10 possible referrals, how do I say that's the one name?

Graham Eisner: The research can come from previous conversations you've had with this client. Obviously there are multiple industries here, but we'll just take the generic. So it could be that conversation. It could be just that you know that they're on the board of another company or they're in a charity of another company you'd love to work for, work with, or you are looking at other clients you'd love to work with. And you've just seen from their LinkedIn that they're connected. I mean, there are obviously multiple different route that might spur on that one name. Now, if you have 5 or 10, then yes, you're going to have to try and pick out one. But the whole point here is you don't want to corner yourself because if there is that one perfect name, you'll ask for that name. And they may, for some reason, prefer not to give a referral with that name. But that's no problem at all. Then you go back to my step three, which is asking for one name. So you start with the specific. And if they happen to say no to that, you then make sure that's not a no and it's not that I don't want to help you. You then ask for one name by itself. And if you couldn't think of anyone that they knew, then go straight for just asking for one name.

Darryl Praill: So now what's interesting here is, folks, we're talking right now about asking for that referral effectively during a sales process. At least that's the framework that it sounds like that Graham and I are having. But that doesn't need to be when you ask it. So let me sit back and say this to you. If you're wanting to build your pipeline out, you want to have more opportunities, yada, yada, yada, you can go back and effectively harvest your past deals to say," Hey, I'm just checking in." That could be your bridge. Remember he talked about having a bridge?" I'm just checking in. How's it going? Everything I'm seeing here from customer success and support and everything else it's looking good. But when you and I talked, you told me this was your problem. And I indicated if you did A, B and C, you'll likely get this result, it's looking like you're having success. Is it working for you?" And they're going to say yes or no, which by the way, you want to do this anyway, because you're going to then just ask what they did to make it work, or just ask the challenges they had to overcome, or just ask the impact it's had. You know why you're doing that? Not for the referral at this point in time, you're doing that so you have storytelling capability. So now when you're prospecting in the future, you can say," Well, I was just talking to Mary over at Acme Inc. And she said this was her problem. This was the issues they had. This is how they implemented it. And this was how they overcame it. Do you have any of those challenges? Do you think you have any of those roadblocks from doing this deployment, Miss or Mr. Prospect?" That's the storytelling side. But that's also your bridge. So Mary is going to say," This is what we had." And now you can say," Well, Mary, I hope you don't mind, but I'm just going through past accounts who have been perfect examples of what we commit to and what we promise. And you're it. So I want to have more Marys in my Rolodex. I want to affect more Marys if that's okay with you, I'm starting with you. Is there anybody you can recommend who would benefit from going through the same experience? Maybe they're having the same challenges. Maybe you talk to them in various communities that you're involved with, associations, whatever, that I should have a conversation with? Maybe this is a conversation that you've been out there saying,'we've been there, and this is what we did.' Maybe I can jump in. Can you help me, Mary, do that?" What's your reaction to that, Graham, when I'm talking about going back in time and harvesting your past successes, as opposed to being in the moment asking for those referrals?

Graham Eisner: Well, there's a great example there. So a few things that come up for me. First of all, I just want to refer to bring up a conversation that gives you more information about our client. One of the mindsets that hold people back is because they think, oh, but it might open up Pandora's box. It might open up what's going wrong in the relationship. And the whole point here is, if there really is something wrong, you want to address that anyway. So it's only like a double positive. I think that the second thing I would say is, you used the line," Is there anyone that you think could benefit from?" And I would just change that, a little subtle, to," Is there one person?" I'd be really specific? No, no. But that's okay because this is-

Darryl Praill: No, I love it. Actually, I find it more compelling. I find it more action driven. Is there one person? And all of a sudden, I feel a lot less pressure. I'm like," Oh, you just want one name? Okay. No problem."

Graham Eisner: Well, exactly. So there's that. Is there one person? And the third point I would make, and this is where I talk about how to find those opportunities. And it's about really thinking as laterally as possible. There are so many opportunities out there. And it can come from old clients, new clients, clients you haven't spoken to for 10 years, 15 years. It doesn't matter. Friends, families. Obviously they're close, or ex- internal colleagues that have known you well, 5 years, 10 years ago. It just doesn't matter. So there are so many different opportunities to get referrals. And it's not just from the existing client list. What I like for referral from, as I say, it's friends and families, it's intermediaries, it's suppliers. I used to work in the banking world, that meant all lawyers and accountants and trustees who all had client lists similar. It's internal referrals, that's a big one for me. I used to do a lot at Goldman Sachs that. But asking people internally who know you very well, ex- work colleagues. If that answers your question.

Darryl Praill: It does. And what's interesting, you talk about, I don't want to open up Pandora's box. It's funny. I hadn't thought about that, but you're right. Because I know I have had that worry in the past, whenever I've done that. I will always, every single time, proactively reach out to my head of support or head of customer success and say," I'm about to call ABC. Is there anything I need to know of?" Now, many people, you have systems in house that you can just go and look at yourself. Either way, it takes a simple internal message or a simple look up on your systems, and then you know. What's interesting is, and that same worksheet that Graham has provided free from his book, he talks about creating that prioritized client referral list. So I use the word farming. He's far more articulate than I am. And he's got kind of like six quick things, how to make lists of who could be candidates you could farm. And he says," Clients who trust and like you the most." And by the way, if they like you and trust you, they'll talk about you on social and other presentations and industry conversations. It's amazing. So that should be easy to do. Or maybe you use them for reference checks as a periodic basis. Most valuable clients in terms of revenue. Clients with the most potential, regardless of the revenue, which is great. Clients who have referred a prospect to you before. I love that one. Clients whom you know are inaudible very connected. And clients who, for some reason, have really benefited from the firm's resources, their values, or the unique selling proposition. So, if you made a list of even five, even five people on each of those lists. in his worksheet, Graham's got way room for more than five. But let's say five. Five times six is 30. There's 30 prospects who would get warm introductions with a proven success story of some form or shape that you can start having a conversation with. Even if only 10% of those happen, that's three deals that you wouldn't have otherwise. And then you get the benefit from that. So to me, the unique value prop there, the selling proposition for me as a rep is, this is a slam dunk. And then I can turn those people into more referrals and so on and so forth. And it becomes multilevel marketing. It's crazy. So what's been the biggest piece of advice you've ever given to somebody on referrals that has caused them to finally change their mindset, change their approach, and resulted in dramatic ROI for them?

Graham Eisner: Make it your number one business development. Forget everything else, just make it your number one. Go into a room for three hours and make this list, and really take it really seriously, to focus and to recognize that each possibility needs thought. This isn't just sort of a weird conversation. It's a thoughtful conversation when you're going into that meeting, and you're carrying out thoroughly to also do that last part, which is ensuring, that's really important, ensuring that they get the referral for you. Your client is doing the work for you. And we have to manufacture that. But that is what has happened when people have really decided to make it their number one.

Darryl Praill: That's crazy. Well, I'm looking at it right now on Amazon. Now I'm looking at this in Canadian dollars. And for my American friends, I know that is just play money because we have color in our money. So you can disregard this. And I know, for my British friends, you're like," Who's Canada?" But that aside, the price, if you just want the Kindle edition, is less than 10 bucks, Canadian. And you can get paperback edition. So either way, these are brilliant opportunities. And it's got an almost five star rating. So there you have it. That's the Just Ask. This is Graham Eisner. Graham, my friend, this is just the start of the conversation for our audience. You're more than just a book. You offer services and consulting too. Can you tell us a little bit about that. And if they wanted to reach out to you or point their managers to you to get you in to help them, what's the best way to do that?

Graham Eisner: So LinkedIn, Graham Eisner. Or via website contact form, that would be a pleasure to meet someone.

Darryl Praill: It's so complex LinkedIn or a website contact form. I love it. Okay. So now, Graham, I just want to bring up a topic, because you've had a great success here today on this show and you're going to reach a lot of people and I'm going to get amazing feedback. If I wanted to continue this dialogue with my audience, with other talented speakers who can make them 1% better every single day to earn more money and be more successful, what's a guest, what's one guest you can refer me to to get on the show?

Graham Eisner: Very good, Darryl. That would be an absolute pleasure to come back to you on that.

Darryl Praill: I love it. I'm going to follow up with you in about 10 days if I don't hear from you, if that's okay. Folks, that's Graham Eisner. Check out his book, Just Ask. I'm Darryl Praill. Stop not asking for the referral. It's easy money. We'll see you next week. Take care. Bye- bye.