5 Steps to Referral Sales Success

Welcome to episode 110 of Selling More Homes: The Monday Morning Meeting. This Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast features an informative discussion between Jerry Rouleau, Scott Stroud, and guest Beverly Koehn, an author and sales expert.

Referral sales are the lifeblood of every successful salesperson. And there are a few tricks and tips that can be utilized to make the most of these opportunities.

Ms. Koehn discusses her book “Loyalty is Love: How to Hold Clients Close for Life” with Jerry and Scott. They discuss navigating the tricky considerations of referrals and how to create great relationships with customers.

Sit back and enjoy the informative discussion on how to get the most from your sales referrals.

Intro: This is The Selling More Homes podcast program number 110. This week Beverly Cohen discusses Five Steps to Referral Sales Success and you’re listening to The Selling More Homes Media Network.

Scott Stroud: Welcome to Selling More Homes, the Monday morning sales meeting for Jerry Rouleau, I’m Scott Stroud. Every week we bring you interviews with sales and marketing professionals to help you find more buyers, close more sales, and earn more money in this challenging housing market.

Whether you are a realtor, builder, sales or marketing manager or new home specialist. This program has been designed just for you. Selling More Homes the Monday morning sales meeting is a production of The Selling More Homes Media Network. So get ready to listen, take notes and enjoy this week’s program.

Jerry Rouleau: Welcome to another episode of Selling More Homes from The Selling More Homes Media Network, I’m Jerry Rouleau.

Scott Stroud: I’m Scott Stroud.

Jerry Rouleau: Hey, Scott, welcome back. You were out traveling the past couple of weeks, I guess, getting a little relaxation in.

Scott Stroud: There was sunshine. There was warmth and there was work.

Jerry Rouleau: Anxious to hear your, a webinar here, coming Wednesday. You’re going to be speaking on how to use technology to increase sales.

Scott Stroud: Yeah, that’s right and I think it’s good. We’re going to introduce some perspective that might be new to many of our listeners, but the aspect of how to listen online and how to gather information. So often we talk about how to use technology to deliver information, but we’re going to talk about it from both perspectives this time.

Jerry Rouleau: So, it’s a one hour coaching session. You can have Scott Stroud right in your office for one hour. It’s $37 or you can buy the whole series. Then you end up buying five of them and getting six of them. So if you haven’t registered for the program already, go to builderradio.com and click on where it says, How to Embrace the Emerging Market.

Scott, I’m in New York state, Southern New York state, right North of Binghamton here this morning. So I’m going to be tied up here next couple of days, but I’ll be ready for your webinar on Wednesday.

Scott Stroud: Good. I don’t want to do it without you there, Jerry. You’re going to be there, right?

Jerry Rouleau: I sure will. This week we have Beverly Cohen  who is going to be doing an interview with us here. She’s going to be talking about Five Ways to Increase Referral Sales.

Scott Stroud: I’m kind of anxious to listen to this program here. Referral sales are the lifeblood of every successful salesperson.

I’m looking forward to what she has to say.

Jerry Rouleau: Well, let’s get her on the line here. Welcome Beverly, great to have you on the show again.

Beverly Cohen: Thank you very much. I am looking forward to it.

Jerry Rouleau: Hey, Beverly, I appreciate you sending me a copy of your new book, which is absolutely awesome, Loyalty is Love – how to hold clients close for life.

I thought maybe we could chat about some of the things in your book and obviously it’s the things that you specialize as you travel all over the country. I know we’ve connected at dozens of industry trade shows and Dover shows and you’re at the convention speaking and so forth. So there’s a chance for our audience, who haven’t heard you to find a little bit more about what you do.

Beverly Cohen: Yeah. I’m looking forward to that. It’s been an interesting adventure and certainly something that has been a passion of mine. So I’m just excited that I’ve had the venue to be able to write the book. I said some of the ideas to our audience with what they can do to improve their customer relationships and perhaps build their businesses more on referrals.

Jerry Rouleau: Great. You know, one of the first things in the book that I kind of chuckled about, I really love it. It was a statement that you have, in your forward it says, “Love is like a rug and we walk right over it.

Beverly Cohen: Yeah. Love is like a rug and we walk right over it. That’s right. You know, we all know that we need to be compassionate and we need to be caring about our customers, but many times just because we become so process oriented, we set up systems that really just negate all of the good signals that we send out there and into the market.

Especially when we’re dealing with different times in the economy, we tend to lose sight of the personalities and the emotions of our buyers. We’re more connected to just the process itself and the process, of course, doesn’t deliver to us that lasting relationship.

Jerry Rouleau: Well, isn’t it the personalities that really make the difference, whether or not we make the sale or not. If we understand their personality?

Beverly Cohen: If we understand their personalities and even more importantly, Jerry, I think if we connect with them emotionally on their level. Many times we try to have our customers fit into a specific slot within our organization and they don’t like to be slotted.

They’re individuals and they need to be treated that way. So one of the things I know that I discussed in the book, the principle of subscribing to the platinum philosophy, instead of just the golden philosophy, meaning that you’ve got to treat people the way they want to be treated, not the way that you want to be treated because they’re not, you they’re them.

We have to really dig right in and understand who they are as individuals and what their hot buttons are and what their motivations are and how we can adjust our processes to fit within their buying cycle and within their comfort zone.

Jerry Rouleau: You know, a few weeks back, we interviewed Dr. Joe Macelli, who just finished writing a book called The Gold Standard, which was all about the Ritz Carlton hotel. You’re saying the same thing. It’s how they treat their customers rather than, let me tell you why you should buy one of our houses.

Beverly Cohen: Right. The Ritz is a great example because staying at the Ritz Carlton is an experience unlike any other. They pride themselves in that if they built an entire business around that, it logically does not make sense to pay $300 or $400 a night to stay in a hotel, especially when you’re not even going to be in that room for more than about eight or 10 hours.

But people do it all day long because, because the experience is just exceptional.

Jerry Rouleau: In your book, you go over a lot of key principles here. And I wonder if, II know we only have about 15, 20 minutes here, but I wonder if you could just highlight some of the key principles that our builders and salespeople should probably think about a little bit further.

Beverly Cohen: I’d be happy to, first of all, you know, we need to make sure that we understand how our customers truly do feel about us. So one of the things that’s important for us to incorporate into our strategy is constantly surveying our customers and understanding how they truly do feel a lot of companies think they know what their customers think of it.

They never really asked specifically, and then they don’t document the right answers to those questions. So one of the things we have to do is always make sure that we’re constantly on the forefront of knowing exactly where we stand with our customers and with their perceptions of us. Then once we know where we stand, then we can take action.

One of the things that we discovered through our research for the book. Many customers actually subscribe to some type of survey system, but then they don’t do anything with the information that they receive. It’s almost like getting the doctor to write you a prescription, the prescription itself isn’t going to cure you. You have to take the pill. Just having the prescription in hand is not going to make this happen. So that’s one thing that’s important.

Another thing that’s very important for us to remember is that, especially in one of my chapters, chapter five, it’s called love plan. It says every engagement count and it’s so important because every time you are interacting with that customer, you need to make an impression, you need to make a positive and lasting impression.

Jerry Rouleau: It’s kind of like building a courtship. It’s an ongoing process, right?

Beverly Cohen: It’s an ongoing Jerry, you know, one of the things that is pretty remarkable about our society as a whole is that, you know, the divorce rate in our country continues to go up every year. Probably 95% of all divorces are simply the cause of people no longer communicating. They don’t court each other anymore. That happens with our customers. Also, you’ve got to court that relationship, not just in the beginning before you get the check, but throughout the relationship and either even after. They moved in and the warranty period has expired. People don’t want to feel like past customers. They don’t like that. They want to feel like they’re still important to your company years and years later. So that’s one thing that’s very important.

Jerry Rouleau: You know, before you move on to the next one, I kind of just caught onto that last statement to spade. They don’t want to feel like past customers. I just liked that, that statement because that’s what we do. We treat them as past customers versus how important they really are to our business and were in our business.

Beverly Cohen: Absolutely. We expect them to send us referrals, but after they move in and after warranties ever, we don’t do anything to deserve it. We think that they should just automatically keep us up for most, in their mind every day. And yet we’ve long forgotten about them. So it just doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to keep the relationship alive.

Jerry Rouleau: Great. I didn’t mean to interrupt you there because you’re on a flow. I was gonna say I love that last statement.

Beverly Cohen: Thank you! I think that’s very important and another thing that we emphasize in the book is that great customer care comes from a great internal training system, meaning that every person in your organization has to feel like they’re part of the process that they’re part of delivering this great experience.

That’s not something that’s just natural to a lot of people. That’s a training initiative without good training programs, individuals in a company revert back to the status quo and we can’t allow that to happen. If we’re constantly reinforcing. It’s connected with everyone, not only the external customer, but with the internal customers. Those things are going to continue to bloom.

If not, they’ll just die like anything else that doesn’t receive any nutrition. So training your people is something that’s very, very important. I know Jerry, this is probably something that you’re experiencing with your business and are challenged with right now. That is right now, in our current market, a lot of companies have simply just pulled the plug on all training there.

They’re pulling back on some of the most important vital systems to their company and that is continuing to give their people the tools that they need. So regardless of what market conditions are you cannot pull the plug on employee training. That’s something that has to be constant.

Jerry Rouleau: You know, I’m sure you’ve heard the statement for umpteen years, but the famous statement from Zig Ziegler, you know, who’s Zig is right?

Beverly Cohen: Absolutely. Yeah.

Jerry Rouleau: The statement was something like what’s worse than training your employees and having them leave to go work for the competition. The thing that’s worse than that is not training them and having them stay.

Beverly Cohen: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s fantastic. It really does work that way. So those kinds of things are very important. Another thing that we talk about in the book is very, very important. In fact, really everything that delivers great service to customers and great experiences, there’s a few tiny things.

They’re the little things, not the big thing. They’re being emotionally connected. They’re writing handwritten Thank you notes when everybody else is sending emails. It’s stopping when you’re driving down the street and you see one of your customers and stopping your car and just stepping out for a moment and giving them a compliment about their landscaping or about something they’ve done with their home instead of driving by with your blinders on and hoping that they don’t see you. We can’t avoid them. We’ve got to continue that relationship and make them feel important for years and years and years.

The other thing that’s very important is that if you always remember that this is your lifeline to your next customer, then you tend to treat people better from the very beginning and you hold on to that. So just keeping that connection and keeping it alive.

Jerry Rouleau: You know, it’s still small things, as you mentioned, the little things make a big difference. Cause those are the little things that they remember.

Beverly Cohen: The little things. Absolutely! Another person that is quoted in the book and I know that you know this gentleman also, a good friend of mine, by the name of Scott Saddam and Scott says, great customer care has to be part of your corporate DNA.

It’s not something that you have on a banner somewhere that somebody walks by and they read every now and then, but it’s truly something that just flows through your vein every day, the veins of your organization that is. People are caring, they’re loving and they have giving attitudes and they’re constantly reinforcing this and sharing this with everyone in the organization and not just the end user.

For instance, if you talk about your trades like they are subhuman beings, they are beneath everyone else. That exudes through your attitude and it goes right down to the customer, the ultimate customer. But if your relationship is more of a professional alliance or professional trade baset, then everyone in the organization has more respect for one another, which then has more respect for the ultimate user than the end customer or the buyer.

Jerry Rouleau: Yeah, I noticed in your book, you also made a reference to Carol Smith and the JD Power Program. We had Carol on the line for an interview probably five, six weeks ago. It’s so simple if we just look at it that way.

Beverly Cohen: It’s very simple. Another concept that I really enjoyed writing about in the book is one that said, in fact, it’s in the chapter, that’s called Love Spreads and it says, you need to watch what you eat. One of those things that we need to watch is what do we listen to? What do we read and what do we remember? For instance, it’s probably not going to be a very popular statement, but it’s a true belief I have been, and that is that I can survive without watching CNN. Reading all the negative news every day and really focusing on that drives behavior. So I just don’t do it and I have not found that it has negatively impacted my business one iota. So we’ve got to watch what we put in our brain. We’ve got to watch what we put in our hearts and our souls and if you think positively, you’re going to make positive things happen.

Jerry Rouleau: I’m on the same page as you, by the way. Beverly, how I get my news is I just scan the internet topics. That’s enough for me and I don’t need all the other negative stuff that goes with it.

Beverly Cohen: Exactly right. And another concept that we talk about is that you’ve got to, you have to hire other people that have A attitudes. If they don’t have good attitudes, you’re not going to be able to change it. That’s the one human behavior that you have absolutely no control over is someone else’s attitude. So look for attitude, great attitude first. Then you can, then you can train them for school skill level.

Jerry Rouleau: Attitude makes all the difference.

Beverly Cohen: It makes all the difference to the world. If they’re not loving, caring, giving people just naturally, you can’t teach that trait. It’s just not going to happen. If you have people on your team that are negative and that have great skills, but they just stink up the place every time they walk in because of the gloom that they carry, get rid of them immediately. Don’t let them hang around.

Jerry Rouleau: Scott, who was that that we interviewed a few weeks ago, said the best motivational tool was to let go of the demotivators.

Scott Stroud: Was that John Palumbo? I can’t remember who.

Beverly Cohen: Well that’s a great statement though.

Jerry Rouleau: No matter who that person is, it’s the demotivator that’s hurting them out there. People are motivated. Yeah. Get rid of the demotivators and just keep doing that and you have a great team.

Beverly Cohen: One of the profiles that I have in my book is in chapter seven and a wonderful man by the name of Billy Warren, who is a gate attendant at the San Antonio airport for Continental.

He’s been with Continental Airlines for about 35 years and this man, and as you know, Jerry, I travel all the time. I go through airports and this man has impressed me, like no other airline employee I’ve ever met. So I’ve got a big picture of him in my book, opened the chapter with him and he sees about 12,000 people a week.

I think it says more than a half, a million a year. This guy, still, after all of those people has the most fantastic attitudes and by the way, Billy has absolutely no control over who flies.

Jerry Rouleau: Yeah, that and the weather and all that stuff either.

Beverly Cohen: The weather and flight delays and mechanical issues is absolutely no control over that, but this guy’s attitude is unbelievable. I have never, ever seen him lose his cool and it’s because his attitude is that he knows that people are in situations that they have no control over and that drive your behavior. So he doesn’t take it personally. He just tries to do everything that he can to rectify the situation, but always remembering that first and foremost, they are human beings and he treats them that way.

Jerry Rouleau: You know what, I bet with the amount of time that you fly, he remembers you.

Beverly Cohen: Oh, absolutely and every time I walk into that gate, if he is on duty, he walks up regardless of what he’s doing. He walks over and he gives me a hug and greest to me and ask if there is anything at all that he can do to help me with my ravel that day. He’s just phenomenal. Just phenomenal.

Jerry Rouleau: I think you’re an easy person to like. It goes two ways here.

Beverly Cohen: I appreciate that. But you know, I just think goodness gracious and I’ve seen people be really, really incredibly rude in airports, but he never loses his cool. So he’s one of those that he diffuses those balls and he knows how to do it.

Jerry Rouleau: I hope you gave him one of your books.

Beverly Cohen: He was one of the first people to get it, correct. Absolutely.

I guess another thing that’s important that we talk about in the book is that you have to understand from the very beginning that not every customer is going to be your customer and you need to look for warning signals for what I call vigilante customers. Don’t sign the contract, don’t get in bed with those people because there is a minuscule fraction of our population that cannot be satisfied regardless of what you do.

Therefore don’t set yourself up for failure.

Jerry Rouleau: Well, I suppose the ones that you sent to your competition?

Beverly Cohen: Absolutely. Absolutely. The other thing that’s important is you have to give your people permission to not sell those folks. They need to be very, very cautious about making sure that this interview is a two sided coin. The buyer’s interviewing you and you’re interviewing the buyer.

If there’s not a match, don’t think that you’re going to fix someone’s personality because you can’t. If people walk in and they are already angry and they’re belligerent toward one another and they are using abusive style language, what makes you think they’re not going to do the same thing to you?

It’s just not going to work. So train your individuals to also be selective and if they decide to do business with. If you do all of those things and you train your people and you have a loving, caring spirit, and you refine your system and you truly are focused on delivering exceptional experiences each and every time, you’re going to be successful.

Jerry Rouleau: Scott, I’m sure you have a few questions piled up there.

Scott Stroud: They’ll have to wait for the next interview, Jerry. But this has been fascinating. I know at that last point where you said you got to let some of those customers just go away, just don’t engage. I can see the hundreds of heads nodding up and down going, I learned that lesson the hard way.

Beverly Cohen: Every time you talk yourself into it, you continue to pay for years to come.

Jerry Stroud: Yeah. Yeah, well, Beverly, it’s been awesome again. So thank you for the time spending with us.

Beverly Cohen: Thank you, Jerry and continued blessing.

Jerry Rouleau: Well, Scott, you know, it really is all about referrals. You know, the number one lead source by far from all of the builders and salespeople and realtors that you and I have chatted with over the years is referrals.

Scott Stroud: Yes it is and it always will be. For those that do a good job, satisfying their customers. But when you do that, then you can expect to get referrals.

Those steps that you went, those five steps are critical to developing and delivering excellent service. I liked the point that she made that customers don’t want to feel like past customers.

Jerry Rouleau: Yeah. You know, in our bookstore, Scott, we have, Beverly’s a new book. It’s titled Loyalty is Love – how the whole clients close for life. It’s just an excellent book and Beverly has known her training on this topic and also on customer service.

Scott Stroud: Yes, it is and there’s a link right there on the front page of Builder Radio, just click on that link and you’ll be taken to our book section and you’ll be able to purchase that book.

Jerry Rouleau: Well, another great interview and we have a couple more weeks still here till the end of this year and we’ve got a great new program all scheduled for next year.

Scott Stroud: We’re looking forward to next year as the market recovers and things are a bit more positive. We’re going to stay right there on the forefront of delivering pertinent and relevant information to you on how to increase your business.

Jerry Rouleau: Until next week. I’m Jerry.

Scott Stroud: I’m Scott Stroud.

Jerry Rouleau: And thanks for listening to the Selling More Home Media Network.