Good quality leads can be hard to come by. Leads that already come with a referral can be too few and far between, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Heard of referral sales?

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl welcomes the extraordinary Brynne Tillman, best-selling author, and CEO of Social Sales Link. Darryl and Brynne delve deeply into how you can leverage your existing customers to not only find some quality leads but to also place you in front of prospective buyers with the weight of a referral. They share some incredible insights on how you can exponentially grow your list of leads through shared social connections. If you are one of those sales professionals who want to experience some exponential growth, you can’t afford to miss this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!






Host: Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Brynne Tillman, Social Sales Link


Darryl Praill: It’s another week here on the “INSIDE Inside Sales Show.” Folks, how you doing? I love, I love hearing how you’re doing. I love getting feedback. I love talking to you guys. So I have a question for you. Why, if you’ve never sent me a message and you listen to this show, why? Have I done something to offend you? Are you just shy? I want to hear from you.

Darryl Praill: And so, let me give you examples of how I want to hear from you. I want you to tell me when a topic we’ve covered sucked. I want you to tell me when you took something that you learned here and you applied it and it worked or it didn’t work, and if it didn’t work, why? And if it did work, why? I want you to give me ideas for guests and topics. I want you to share that Darryl, I was doing this today and I need more knowledge here. Can you help me out? Can you go fetch an expert and bring them on here so I can get that knowledge? That’s what I want from you.

Darryl Praill: And in return, I’m going to do that. I’m going to do that. My promise to you is I’m going to keep on bringing you the world’s best guests with the most practical, applicable, hands-on meat, potatoes. This is how you get it done feedback. So that’s our agreement, do we have an agreement? You, me, we’re good? Good. All right, so talk about agreements. Let me ask you if this has ever happened to you. I was out, oh my gosh. Did I sound Canadian there? I was out, I was out and about, I’m sorry about that. I was out and about and we were tasked recently with, do we need to buy a new car?

Darryl Praill: You’ve never been there, I’m sure. But for me, this is like a big deal. My wife especially, my wife especially she has some, let’s just say some idiosyncrasies that necessitate that the vehicle have certain capabilities, a certain level of comfort, a certain level of fit to her posture, her you know her body, certain amenities. You know, she likes her air conditioning as an example. She likes her satellite radio, so it better have satellite radio yada, yada, yada. And I’m picking on her here because she’s clearly not here to defend herself, but you get the idea, we’re all the same, right?

Darryl Praill: We all have clear ideas about what it is we want when we’re out to buy something. And so the first thing I do is I go to my network and I have a variety of people in my network. It’s applicable to this purchase. One might be my good friend who works, who’s a vice president at a large, very large, large, large, large car dealership chain. And I kind of went to him and I said, you know, I want to know, you know, what brands what products, you know, what lines have the best incentives and financing and track records, yada yada yada.

Darryl Praill: And then I have another friend who’s in the car repair business and I said, “I want to know what cars you think I should be looking at for the cost of maintenance and replacement parts and you know a lifespan, five years, 10 years.” Because we tend to keep our cars so I went to him. And then, and then my wife did the same thing. She went to her girlfriends and said, you know, “what do you like?” Just what and of course, no specifics beyond that. What have you driven, what do you like and got feedback. Oh, I love this vehicle or I love that vehicle. And here, why don’t you drive my vehicle? Tell me what you think.

Darryl Praill:  And you know, this is how we buy. This is literally how we buy and whether we’re buying a car or buying a piece of software, we’re buying some professional services. This is how we buy, we’re all the same. The only other thing we might do above and beyond the whole idea of getting referrals is we might look for some social proof. And the social proof might be, well, my buddy said, you know, manufacturer A model B, that’s the way to go. Fair enough, let me go online and see what the reviews are. What are the customers is saying? Is it a lemon is a not a lemon, whatever right.

Darryl Praill: My other buddy said, “you know, this model is going to retain its value.” All right, let me go online and see, you know, does it retain its value based on resale history or whatever it might be. That’s what we do. We are and I guess we don’t know this yet. Let me be clear about this. We’re programmed to do this because we are all trying to eliminate risk.

Darryl Praill: You are trying to eliminate risks. But guess what, your buyer of what you’re selling in your day job, they’re trying to eliminate risk. And you have to accept that and embrace that. Now here’s the secret sauce, okay? You could actually use this propensity to eliminate risk to your strategic advantage. Think about that. So your question is, well how, how do I do that? ‘Cause I want an advantage. Great question. What you do is you proactively get people to refer you because everybody else is looking to buy your products, right?

Darryl Praill: And the people who you’ve already sold your product or service to, they relate. They hang out with these people. These people are going to them like in my car example and say, who do you use? Do you like it? What was the sales process like? So imagine if they just said, “yeah, we use this.” Or they said, “yeah, we use this “and we bought it from Darryl at VanillaSoft. “Let me hook you up.” If you had that referral, you are already way far ahead than any other vendor or product or offering out there.

Welcome Brynne Tillman – Let’s Talk Referral Sales

Darryl Praill: The referral is the secret to just starting out of the gate way, way ahead. So are you building your referrals? I bet many of you aren’t and that’s why I brought on Brynne Tillman. Brynne Tillman is the CEO and Founder of Social Sales Link, She is a LinkedIn sales trainer, she’s a Navigator trainer, and for her, she’d be the first one to tell you that the secret to any kind of social media success is to leverage it to get those referrals. So that you can have sales success. Brynne, welcome to the show, my friend. How are you?

Brynne Tillman: Yeah, I’m thrilled to be here.

Darryl Praill: Well, we are thrilled to have you here. Now before we go into the details, I do want to give everybody a heads up. We’re going to hit this on the tail end, but here’s the heads up. Brynne is going to be on stage at the OutBound conference in Atlanta. All right, that’s all I’m saying for now. I want to circle back to that at the end. Listen to her right now and then tell me that you wouldn’t want to go to Atlanta to listen to her live. All right Brynne, talk to me about the power of client referrals. Are we using this enough is this like golden opportunity that people are just forgetting about? I mean, talk to me just about the power of the referral.

Brynne Tillman: So well, the power of the referrals is amazing. Because by the time you get to your targeted buyer, you have a high level of credibility because you have been introduced by someone in your network that they already trust. So that’s the magic. But here’s the challenge that most salespeople face. They know they need these referrals. So they go to their clients and they say, Hey Mr. Client, I am so glad we’ve been able to help you do X, Y, and Z. Who else do you know that we can help the same way?

Brynne Tillman: And those clients will think and maybe shrug and ultimately say, “you know what, I can’t think of anyone right now but you know, let me get back to you.” “Or if someone should ask, I’d be happy to introduce you.” But that doesn’t help us now. And sure, we do build a network where people are, we’re getting inbound referrals occasionally, but we’re talking about Outbound. How are we proactively getting these referrals? And so that’s where we bring in LinkedIn or LinkedIn Sales Navigator either one to help us filter and search and identify who our clients know that we want to meet.

Brynne Tillman: And instead of saying, “Mr. client, who do you know?” We’re changing that conversation a little bit and saying, “Hey, Mr. Client, “I noticed you’re connected to 12 people on LinkedIn “that I’d love to get in front of. “I’m wondering, can I run these names by you “and get some insights before I reach out?” Then we have this conversation with them and they say, “yeah, that guy’s great. “I think she retired, she’s fantastic.”

Brynne Tillman: And now you’re 12 goes down to maybe eight and of those eight we’re going to leverage, and we’ll talk through this I guess throughout today’s podcast. But we’re going to leverage that relationship to get in front of that targeted buyer with a high level of credibility.

Create a Map of Targets

Darryl Praill: See what I love about what you’re saying there, ’cause I’m guilty of this, I’m guilty of this for saying, “yeah, do you know anybody else who could use our services? And your response is so bang on maybe this person, but other than that, I’m blanking out, but let me get back to you. And they mean well, but they rarely to get back to you. And then you move on with your day and you forget it altogether and they’ve gone on their day and nothing ever happens out of that.

Darryl Praill: And then you’re saying to yourself, “well, I tried, you know, referrals doesn’t really work for me. I never get much.” But you just flipped it around. You said, “I see you’re connected with these people.” So why don’t we start there? You in your example you talked about there was maybe 12, How do I map? How do I create that map of possible targets that they may be able to refer me into?

Brynne Tillman: Great question. So the first thing you really want to do is take a look at all of the titles of the people that you work with. If you’ve got a CRM, I’d start there. So identify maybe your top eight or 10 clients that you want more of. People that you’re going to go after and you want to identify a few key areas. Number one, what are the titles of all the people that you engage with? So not just the buyer but anyone that was part of the sales process prior to the close. You want to make sure we’re engaging.

Brynne Tillman: So, record all of those titles another thing you want to look at, is there a particular industry that you serve well? Because we want to narrow this down. And so if we can bring it down to an industry where maybe you’ve got lots of case studies around, And that will make the whole process of sales even easier. Maybe geographic location, you may succeed in a particular part of the country and so maybe we’ll focus there. And look through LinkedIn and all of its filters, whether you’re using the Free look through the filters that are available in the Free LinkedIn or Sales Navigator, which has incredible filters that can really help you narrow down to exactly your ideal buyers.

Brynne Tillman: And you know, build out that search. Now I save that search and use that often when I’m searching individual connections or company connections and so forth. So once you’ve got that nailed, the rest is really simple.

Keep Client Relationships Intact

Darryl Praill: Now, I’m trying to think about this. So I guess the first thing that jumps to my mind, I’m thinking about me. I have a lot of connections. If I were to say maybe, maybe I was maybe Brynne you are my customer and I would say Brynne you know, is there somebody, but instead I do what you say. I go and I kind of map it out to how many connections do Brynne and I have and yada yada. What if there’s just like too many? Brynne there’s 50 people we have in common. You should do an email blast on my behalf. Like how do I get more specific than that?

Brynne Tillman: So you know, it’s really important that we don’t put the client out too. But remember we’re not handing them this list of 12 or 50 and saying, “Hey can you introduce all of them to me?” What we’re really saying is can I review these names with you? Now 50 is a lot. And so I would say invest a little bit of due diligence and open each one of them.

Brynne Tillman: And really you dwindle it down to a select number, I typically don’t go more than 20. Now I know that even seems like a lot, but remember what we’re going to quickly review them with them first. So 20 may become 16, right? Maybe 12 from 20 based on who they know and who they know well enough that their name has credibility when they reach out. ‘Cause that’s really what I care about it.

Darryl Praill: Well, I guess what I’m curious on, you’re talking about, you know, maybe that 20 we review it with them and that comes down to a smaller list, yada yada. But I’m not convinced that everybody will want to receive that request or will receive that request well to say, “Hey, can I review these 20 names with you” because they kind of sniff out where you’re going with this “and maybe they want to help you maybe they don’t.” But if I want to ask you, how do I actually ask them for their help? What’s the process? But don’t answer ’cause I want to tease the audience and give them the answer after this brief commercial break. Don’t go anywhere.

Identify Referrals to Review with Clients – Then Name Drop

Darryl Praill: Okay so Brynne, I go back to you. The question as before we went for the commercial break was, how do I actually have that conversation in a way that they’ll be supportive of my efforts as opposed to going, I don’t want to be, you know, pitching your wares.

Brynne Tillman: So I think that’s a fantastic question because it is so important that we keep our relationships with our clients intact and never put them in a position where they feel uncomfortable. So a typical conversation I may have with them might be, you know, Hey Mrs client, I’m so glad that we’ve been able to help you with X, Y, and Z and we’ve gotten these results for you guys. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the way that we’ve typically grown our business has been from referrals from our happy clients. I’m wondering, I happened to notice you’re connected to 20 people on LinkedIn. If you wouldn’t mind just quickly reviewing them with me less than a five-minute call.

Brynne Tillman: So I can identify based on your knowledge of your connections, who it makes the most sense for me to reach out to. Now at this point they’re not completely feeling like I’m going to ask for an introduction to all of them. I did mention referrals, but I’m saying quick call and then by saying, you know, your insights will help me identify who I should reach out to. Takes the fear that I’m going to ask for an introduction to all of them away.

Brynne Tillman: Now the conversation I have with them now 20 becomes 12 and I’ll say, “Mrs client, thank you so much “for your insights around these 12 people. “Is there anyone on this list “that you would feel comfortable “actually making an introduction to?” Now, if that conversation feels a little awkward by that, that question almost gives them that out. Like, you know, I’m not really comfortable making an introduction because, and we’ve also mentioned, you know, is there any one or are there anyone you know are there any people on this list? So we’re not asking for all 12.

Brynne Tillman: But let’s say they say, okay, here these two I’d be very happy to introduce you to. Now we have 10 what do we do with them? Well, that’s where name-dropping permission to name-drop becomes really valuable. So I’ll say, you know, thank you so much for your willingness to introduce me to these two. I’m even happy to provide you a little introduction paragraph so it makes it really simple. All you’ll have to do is email us both and I can take it from there. These other 10 that you’ve recommended I reach out to, would it be okay if I mentioned that we had this conversation and you, you’re my client and you thought that they might be a good fit for what we do?

Brynne Tillman: And they’ll almost every single time say, “Oh, sure.” Now when we reach out to them I’ll say, “Darryl, I was talking to Daniel the other day and your name came up in our conversation, you know, Daniel’s my client and he thought that might make sense for me to reach out, introduce myself and have an opportunity for the two of us to just chat a little bit. Let’s connect and we can set up a call.” And the success rate has been about 50%. About half the people that our clients are saying, yes, reach out and use my name are taking our call.

Darryl Praill: Wow, so I see the math, right? So you said 20 becomes 12 and we got a connection, a success rate of 50% so it’s 12 becomes six. So just because you asked for a referral, you’ve got six new conversations you’re going to have. Now think about this folks, what do you do every day? You go to work and part of what you’re doing is you’re dialing for dollars or sending emails out. You’re sending social touches out because what’s your goal? Your goal is to have a conversation.

Darryl Praill: And if you can maybe have, you know, one or two conversations a day, it’s a good day. And in Brynne’s example, which is very realistic on the numbers, she just got you six more conversations like that. And that’s with one, one happy customer. So imagine what you could do. I mean the scale of that is brilliant. Could you hit your numbers easier? Could you close more deals, you know, easier with that? And I think the answer is kind of rhetorical. And the question’s rhetorical, the answer is obvious. Yes, yes you could. So then I guess I challenge you, why are you not doing that?

Earn the Right to Ask for the Referral: Ask-Offer Ratio

Darryl Praill: Now, there’s one thing we haven’t talked about here Brynne that I think is kind of an important thing. It’s an obvious thing, but it’s an important thing to address, which is for me to do referrals, you know, we need to actually be, I mean tell me if I’m wrong, don’t we need to be connected to our customers ’cause most sales reps I know are busy connecting to prospects, not necessarily to customers. So talk to me a bit about that.

Brynne Tillman: Well, so connecting with your customers is really important. And one of the pushbacks I hear often as well, I don’t want to connect with my customers ’cause I don’t want my competition to know. And so that to me is so silly because first of all, you’ve got 500 plus connections. Your competitors are not going to know which ones are your clients or not. And by the way, a simple search and they can find those prospect’s names anyway.

Brynne Tillman: And if you are so concerned that just a competitor knowing you’re connected to a client is going to risk your relationship. We have a lot more to talk about than just LinkedIn, right? So that’s really important. Number two, according to Challenger Sale, there are 6.8 decision-makers on every enterprise sale. So that means there are probably, especially if you sell into enterprise, there are probably, you know, five, six, seven, eight people that you’ve engaged with during the sales process.

Brynne Tillman: And if you’ve done your job well and your company has rolled out a great solution, you now have five, six, seven, eight people to get referrals from. So you want to make sure you’re connecting with all of them. There’s sort of a tangential reason to do that as well. Linkedin tells us that there’s a 20% turnover on average every year. That means that 20% of your prospects right now that you have today will not be here in a year. It’s one out of five. When you’re connected to them on LinkedIn, you can follow their career path. You know, where they’ve gone. It’s another opportunity to get in there.

Brynne Tillman: And you know, if you just had business cards or information in your CRM and you didn’t track them through LinkedIn, that email is bouncing and it’s really hard to find them. So there’s lots of reasons to connect with your clients, not just for referrals but for really staying in touch and connected and opening up new opportunities on a consistent basis.

Darryl Praill: So okay, let’s just make this really simple folks. We all know sales is a numbers game, right? We know this, we know we do the activity and then we’re going to have the, you know the connections. And we can turn marketing qualified leads or leads that you’ve sourced yourself and turn them into sales qualified leads, and then it’s opportunities, and away we go and it’s all about activity.

Darryl Praill: So, now what Brynne just said, to be very clear in this, we got, you know thrilled about the fact that this one person was able to introduce us to 20 people that we’ve got down to 12 of which will be six conversations. But she made a really powerful point. She said, but every sales cycle really probably has on average six people involved in the sales. So you shouldn’t just be talking to that one person you’re talking to all six. So boom, so if I followed that math, we said at 50% on one person will get six conversations.

Darryl Praill: Theoretically six times six is 36 conversations. Now, clearly that is a really optimistic number, but you get the idea. Now if 20% of those leave every single year and go elsewhere and you’re in it for the long game, then that means you have 20% of your base that you’re talking to next year who are elsewhere that you can circle back and say, “Hey, thanks for the new, you know, good luck on the new gig. How’s it going? By the way, chance for me?”

Social Selling is a Two-Way Street –

Darryl Praill: So again, these are all warm opportunities because of the referral, but I want to come back here Brynne because there is one aspect which is I feel too many sales reps treat me as a transaction. And they don’t want to actually offer value in other words can you refer me? So I see what’s in it for the sales rep, but what does the sales rep giving me, you know, what resources are they giving me? How, how do they continue to help me? And I think that’s a big part of what we’re talking about here in social selling is it is a two-way street, can we maybe hit on that a little bit.

Brynne Tillman: So I absolutely think that question is foundational to a sales rep success period. I’m going to actually start with one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever read in sales. And it’s so simple. Keenan from “Gap Selling” talks about the ask – offer ratio. And I’m absolutely obsessed with this, right? So in every point in our sales cycle, we are asking for something, but we need to earn the right for them to respond to that ask.

Brynne Tillman: And really what it comes down to is the offer worth it, right? So from a high level of prospecting, we’re asking for 15 minutes. I’ll have sales reps say all the time, well, why won’t they take my call? I’m offering so much value. But they have put a value on their 15 minutes. And no matter what you think the value is you’re bringing their perception, your offer is not coming across as worth their time. So the same thing with referrals, right? We’re asking for referrals. We need to have earned that right.

Brynne Tillman: And sometimes that’s through relationships. Sometimes that’s through value add. It’s through creating a much greater experience throughout the sales process for them than they could have ever imagined. It’s about, you know, take a look at what differentiates you, not just your product, but you as you know, the core relationship between your prospect now your client and your company. And so the more you’ve earned that right.

Brynne Tillman: So, you’re adding value add, you’re taking a call on a weekend, you’re responding to something, maybe a billing that’s frustrating them and you get in and you really help them through that. That gives you earning right, right? That gives you some kind of credibility that when you do come and ask for this they feel indebted to you even though they are the client. They really understand the value that you’ve brought to them. And the five or 10 minutes to review names is nothing now, right? ‘Cause the ask, offer ratio. What you’ve offered them was worth so much that you’re certainly banked at least a 15-minute call to review some names.

Darryl Praill: Oh my gosh. Okay, so let’s recap. The power of the referral is something you’re probably ignoring. No problem. We can fix that. To do that you have to connect with all your customers and every single person in that sale, typically six people, maybe more, maybe less, but you want to connect with them all. When you do that, you want to have a history of the ask – offer ratio. In other words, you want to offer a lot of resource to these people continuously, through your personal shares on LinkedIn. Maybe it’s private messages, I have checked this out. Here’s a piece of cool content, what have you.

Darryl Praill: So you’re adding value, so that when you finally do go to them and ask, make your ask for that referral, that they will invest five or 10 minutes with you, but for you to make it worth their while, you’ve got to go and actually map the titles and the filters necessary to connect the dots and say, these are the 20 people that you can probably, you know, help me out with.

Darryl Praill: So that’s the power of the referral. That’s Brynne Tillman. She’s with If you haven’t followed her on LinkedIn yet, you’re behind the times kids. Go follow her on LinkedIn. She’s really good at the whole LinkedIn and Navigator thing. So even if your skills aren’t what they should be in Navigator, follow her. She’s the ask – offer ratio, she’s going to offer a lot, you know what I’m saying? So do that.

Darryl Praill: Finally, this today was just, you know, what a 20, 25 minutes share of what you’re going to get if you go to OutBound and see her. Brynne one piece of advice, for someone who can’t go to OutBound. What’s one piece of advice, you know, my advice is to wear comfortable shoes. What’s your piece of advice?

Brynne Tillman: That’s a great piece of advice. I would say if you’re going to OutBound, go with a mission. Like where are your gaps? What are the things that you believe if you learn more, you can improve your top line sales, right? And then map out who is meeting that, right? ‘Cause there’s very top of the funnel. There are people that are great at top of the funnel, but have a hard time converting to a discovery call, right? They have an initial call, whatever it is, wherever your gap is, find out which speakers are speaking to that gap.

Brynne Tillman: So just to let you know, my whole thing is the very top of the funnel. So if you’re looking, you know, how do I get more phone calls, more first conversations, that’s what we’re handling. But you know, there are sales experts from all over the globe that are sharing great insights throughout the entire sales process. So make sure you’re catching what you really need.

Darryl Praill: So Brynne referenced Keenan who talks about gap selling, but her advice for you today is that you should go to OutBound and with a task of gap learning. So there we go. That wraps up another week Thank you Brynne so much. My name is Darryl Praill and this ladies and gentlemen, is INSIDE Inside Sales.