Brad Huisken In the field of sales, we depend on our repeat customer base and our ability to attract new customers. The professional salesperson will use both in tandem to gain referrals and this practice is called bird-dogging. Many successful salespeople have already mastered this art and have achieved amazing results over the years.

How do you accomplish this art? Start by offering your customers in either written or verbal form, a monetary reward, a gift certificate, or a simple gift in return for a referral. Along with getting the referral, you are also solidifying your relationship with the customer that gave you the referral.

The type of business you are in will certainly dictate what type of reward you will be able to provide. If you are selling shoes, then you are not going to offer a new car for a referral. You would probably want to come up with something such as a 10% discount on a new pair of shoes or a gift certificate.

Remember, people want to get something in return for what they give and they deserve that. Asking people for a list of names as referrals, for the most part, is not an effective way to get the referrals. However, a thank-you note with a gift certificate attached will likely lead to some referrals.

The money that you will spend on bird-dogging for referrals from your customers will do more for your future sales than any other type of marketing. If bird-dogging is done wisely and correctly, it can result in a greater return for your money, more than any other type of advertising that you could possibly do.

When bird dogging, be careful that you are offering the same rewards for the same referrals. You do not want your customers comparing notes, you know the “I got this and they got that” scenario. In the end, what you want is a group of satisfied customers; giving you many referrals and helping you achieve your goals.

FINAO - Brad Huisken - President, IAS Training

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