I am going to tell a story of how dogs can help you gain referrals…
…But first, let me reassure you that this article really is about gaining sales referrals, and will ultimately increase your profits. (Which is why you’re reading this magazine, right?) But I digress. Let me continue with the story.
Referrals and Dogs?
Gaining sales referrals may not seem like it is correlated with dogs, but let me share my story with you. I was not always a dog person. In fact, most of my life I was not into dogs at all. That didn’t change until I started managing a political campaign in the mid-2000’s. The candidate, along with his wife, were huge dog people.
As such, they were involved with a charity organization called Internet Miniature Pinscher Service, or IMPS. Being the campaign manager meant that I was involved in almost every aspect of the candidate’s life. That meant that I, too, became involved with the charity organization. I began to fall in love with dogs through my interaction with the charity. After a few months, I even brought home a dog of my own named Mylo.
Six Pound Referral Generator
Stay with me, though. I promise I will be talking about gaining sales referrals very soon. A few years later, I went with a fellow volunteer to pick up a young female dog that needed to be brought into the rescue. Somehow, between the time we picked up the dog, and the time I got dropped off at my house, we decided that this dog was going to be fostered by me. I named her Bette Midler, and she became my purse dog. (One of my considerations is if a dog will fit in my purse or not. I told you that you’d get some sales skills out of this!)
At the time that I adopted this dog, who was a whopping six pounds, I had already changed significantly changed. My identity as a dog lover had integrated into who I was as a person, which also changed who I was as a salesperson. Bette exposed a side of me to my clients that they didn’t always see.
Dog meets CEO
I remember the first time one of my clients met Bette. I was in the conference room when the CEO walked in, laughing. “You know it’s funny that someone with your bravado and presence has a small six-pound dog, right?” she said. “There has to be a whole other side to you when you aren’t focused on work.” She saw me not just as the expert salesperson and sales leader, but she saw me for me, as the dog mom that I had come to be. This image of myself stuck with the CEO, and it strengthened our bond and our relationship. Eight years later, I still get a Merry Christmas email from this CEO. However, it’s addressed to Bette, and comes with a $10 gift card to Petco.
I recall another time when I had a foster dog with me during a sales class I was teaching. A group of grown men protested when I wouldn’t let the dog run loose in the classroom so they could play with it. I got more referrals from that class than any previous class, and I got them because I showed I was a human, not just a consultant. I showed more of my fun, gentle, non-work side. And yet, I was still respected as a sales expert by students.
Dog Person AND Salesperson
So much of what makes a salesperson great, and what makes them memorable, is their ability to present as a human. Reciting a scripted sales speech at networking events won’t get you any new sales referrals; Being a robot on a sales call won’t get the person on the other end of the phone to close the deal. You have to bring yourself into the game if you truly want to increase referrals and close more deals, and I learned how to do that better by being a dog person.