Episode 190: Joanne Black

Leveraging Referrals Positively Impacts Productivity
Joanne Black


Joanne Black

Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling, a sales contrarian, and the author of No More Cold Calling and Pick Up the Damn Phone! She works with sales organizations to build a referral culture, ensure a qualified pipe, and get the one-call meeting. Referrals work whether you’re looking for a job, looking for a client, or looking for a date.

Our Mission Is To Change The Negative Perception Of Sales People

Our Vision Is A World Where Selling Is A Profession To Be Proud Of

Staying productive is an ever-evolving problem as a sales professional—but leveraging the power of referrals could help. Salespeople wear many hats: they prospect, write proposals, work with internal teams, handle customers, and more. Utilizing any tactic to help smooth the process can be a game-changer. In this episode of Sales Reinvented, Joanne Black joins Paul to share her take.

Joanne Black founded No More Cold Calling 23 years ago and has been helping sales leaders drive revenue for their teams ever since. She is a referral consultant, speaker, and author of multiple books on sales. Her goal is to help sales professionals ensure qualified pipeline leads and shorten prospecting time and increase close rate.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:19] Joanne Black joins Paul!
  • [054] What is productivity?
  • [2:00] Salespeople need to focus on discipline
  • [3:43] Do what’s closest to cash every day
  • [5:55] Attributes of a productive salesperson
  • [7:13] Joanne’s #1 recommendation
  • [9:45] Top productivity dos and don’ts
  • [11:32] Joanne’s favorite productivity story

Sales professionals must face a hard truth

Joanne doesn’t mince words—she believes many sales professionals are lazy and lack discipline. She notes that salespeople do everything they can to avoid prospecting and connecting with customers. Salespeople resist CRM and systems because it is more work. It’s expected that marketing will source and send leads down the pipeline.

But sales professionals are accountable for what they produce. They must take a long hard look at their behaviors and systems in place. Society as a whole wants the end results without the work that goes with it. Sales professionals must work hard to overcome the preconception that people have that they’re lazy. That starts by learning to be disciplined and staying accountable.

Do what’s “closest to cash” every day

Joanne’s mantra is “do what’s closest to cash every day”. What do you have to do to move things along and meet your quota? Is it writing a proposal? Do you have to corral a team and strategize? She points out that your job is all about prospecting and proposal writing—and whatever it takes to move forward.

To stay focused, you must prioritize and time-block what’s important. Limit how often you’re checking email and don’t get lost in the social media time-suck. She also recommends exercising and eating healthy. If you are tired and unfocused, you won’t be able to do your best work.

STOP cold-calling and embrace referrals

According to Joanne, it takes at least 8 touches to reach someone with cold calling. But if you get a referral? It’s one phone call and you’re in a conversation with someone who wants to speak with you. Her #1 recommendation to be more productive is to STOP cold calling and embrace referrals

This allows you to spend less time prospecting, shortens the sales process, and helps your conversion rates soar to over 70%. How? Trust. When a client refers someone to you, they have already forged a level of trust with that person. That bond of trust gets transferred to you and completely changes the conversation you have.

Focus on what customers are saying (or NOT saying)

Joanne believes many salespeople are so bent on “doing” that they don’t think to ask what customers actually need. Every customer needs and wants different things and you can’t assume you know what those needs are without listening first. Joanne believes, “Every individual has a different need to know at a different time”. It’s your job to find out what that need is and provide a solution.

You also need to be able to know when a client is giving you the brush-off—by understanding their silence. Joanne worked for a company that was contacted to submit a proposal for what would have been a million-dollar deal. They were looking for some advanced sales training and their current vendor didn’t offer what they needed. But her contact gave her the runaround and Joanne ended up losing the deal.

The constant stalling and dodging of calls was a red-flag that Joanne missed. Be sure you’re paying attention to a potential client to get a concrete answer—”maybe” or “not sure” isn’t good enough. Getting a concrete “yes” or “no” will keep you from wasting your time and lead to more productivity. Listen to the whole episode for all of Joanne’s strategies to stay productive!

Connect With Paul Watts


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More About Joanne Black

What was the last book you read?
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Who / What inspires you?
My grandchildren inspire me. Being with children brings me back to what’s important—family, caring, laughing, joy, and sharing their lives as they grow. Travel inspires me. Travel brings history alive, and it’s the most amazing learning experience. It’s not just about visiting sites but more about the people, their struggles and successes. It’s like completing a painting that’s been started. I’ve been in awe at the Great Wall of China, hiking in Patagonia, being in Hungary (my grandparents’ native country), and most recently the awe I felt standing on Omaha Beach.

Are there any aspects of your own productivity skills that you are working on improving at the moment?
Time blocking—especially on office days. It’s so easy to let time slip by and forget my mantra: Do what’s closest to cash every day.

Hobbies, Interests?
Walking, hiking, swimming, travel. My sister and I have been traveling together for 17 years. We’ve been to amazing places.

How can our listeners contact with you?

Joanne(at)nomorecoldcalling.com or 415-461-8763 AND invite me to connect on LinkedIn with a personal message that you listened to the podcast and what you learned.


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