You know it’s true: All things being equal, we work with friends. All things not being equal, we work with friends. And when we need a specialist, we ask a friend.
Account based selling teams find it increasingly challenging to reach their target prospects. No one answers the phone anymore, and buying committees have increased on average from 5.4 to 6.8 members. So, how do you get that first call? By asking for referrals from friends, colleagues, and (best of all) current customers.
Buyers take meetings with salespeople who’ve been introduced by people they know and trust. It’s called peer-to-peer (P2P) selling. Or you can call it what I’ve always called it: referral selling.
Either way, it works. According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2017 US Report, 70 percent of the time that decision-makers respond to salespeople, it’s because those reps were introduced through a professional network.
Why P2P Works for B2B
P2P selling is not a new process, but it is a new term. What does it mean? Ian Levine, chief sales officer at RO Innovation, answers that question in his fantastic article, “The Next Game Changer for B2B Sales? P2P Selling.” He explains:
The opportunity is to create visibility, access, and control of advocates, inside the CRM system. Activating the right peer to drive pipeline opportunities is a powerful revenue-accelerating strategy. Buyers’ peers are the ultimate trusted advisers (a.k.a. the “happy customers”) and the key differentiator in the 2017 purchasing process. Marketers need to enable the use of customer advocate activity for sellers within CRM systems. This is P2P Selling.
How do you make P2P selling work for your account based sales team? Levine offers four strategies:
- Connect the dots between CRM, sales, and marketing.
- Focus on peer-based content.
- Build trust through video testimonials and reviews.
- Invest in growth, as opposed to efficiency.
P2P Selling Meets Referral Selling
Savvy account based sales reps have always developed, nurtured, and fostered strong relationships with as many people as possible in their networks. They earn the right to ask for referrals to their prospects, so they score every meeting in one call.
P2P selling strategies support referral selling by equipping reps with the information and content they need to engage and nurture their networks. P2P technology also makes it easier for sellers to identify the right referral source to help woo the right prospect.
Asking for referrals has always been the #1 way for account based selling teams to connect with prospects. In fact, account based sales reps tell me that when they’re introduced to their decision-makers, they convert prospects into clients 70 percent of the time. That metric was 50 percent for decades, but the needle has moved in recent years. Referral selling is even more important today. There’s way too much noise in the selling and buying process—but not for those of us who receive referral introductions. We get in early, build relationships, knock out the competition, and win deals.