There are three pillars of digital activities that great social sellers use:

referral selling

One of the most powerful is the digital referral. However, it’s also one of the most difficult to execute. I’m not even going to pitch you on the value (this should be obvious)—I’m just going to show you how to execute this digital sales play:

Step #1: Map Your Advocate “Sphere of Influence”

Everyone has a “sphere of influence.” This sphere of influence consists of the companies and people connected to you that have the greatest social proximity and strongest relationships.

Your advocates have a social proximity of two, three, or four companies that they can introduce you to quickly, while, in turn, shortening deal cycles by weeks or months.

Using LinkedIn, any advocate of yours with their network connections open can show you their top 5-10 accounts they have the greatest social proximity around.

EXPERT TIP: The power of 3’s

Focus on either three people at one company, or three people at three companies—no more than this.

Find three senior executive buyers that match your buyer persona that your advocate is clearly well connected to and around (thus social proximity is high).


sales professional

Step 2: Design the Introduction Sales Play

I once heard Barbara Giamanco say, “For every 20 referrals I ask for:

     – 10 make an effort to place the introduction

     – 5 return a message

     – 2 turn into a meeting.”

I might be paraphrasing here, but, ultimately, this is a numbers game. To dramatically increase your conversion rates, do not do the following:

Say, “Hi John, do you mind introducing me to three vice-presidents of sales in your network?” Guess what, John will have no idea where to start.

Instead, paint by numbers for John.

Build a template that allows John to broker the introduction:

     a. Explicitly outline the three people (max) you’d like an introduction to.

     b. Give John the sales play he’ll use, making it brain-dead simple.

Suggested Referral Message


I hope you’re doing well.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Jamie Shanks, CEO at Sales for Life. Sales for Life is an excellent training & advisory resource for our business in helping us develop a leading social selling/digital selling program. They’ve built programs for 100s of global companies, and I recommend your team talks to them about best practices.

Here is quick information from Jamie:

I’ll leave it to you both to connect, and best of luck in your conversations.



EXPERT TIP: Leverage rich media (I like to use LinkedIn Point Drive) within your introduction. This way, the introduced new lead has much more context on you and your business.

Step 3: Design the Introduced Sales Play

Adding to the end of Step 2, I drive the introduced lead to a LinkedIn Point Drive that introduces me (I think humanizing yourself with a video is a best practice) and rich assets. I’ve also made it very simple for the introduced person to book next steps with me.

jamie shanks

EXPERT TIP: Treat this process like any other sales process. Do not go “one and done” with your touch points to advocates. They will need reminding! You might have to push your advocates a few times to finish the introductions.

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Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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