Building a referral culture with all your employees [Interview]

Previously Mike Garrison, referral selling expert and President of Garrison Sales Consulting and Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity discussed the CEO, sales and marketing’s part in building a referral culture. Now Mike and Trisha will dive into how every employee can be a part of driving a referral culture and how that can not only helps create a predictable referral selling system that grows revenue, but goes toward increasing employee satisfaction.

How to involve every employee in building a referral culture

Trisha: Hi, I’m Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity. I’ve been interviewing Mike Garrison, business coach with referral sales expertise on the concepts of referral culture. So Mike, thanks for joining me again. We’ve talked about why a CEO needs to have building a referral culture on their radar to drive revenue growth. We’ve talked about what that means for sales and to marketing. And I think a lot of people would have stopped the conversation right there.

Mike: Not us.

Trisha: Not us. We’re going to dive into all the rest of the employees. So tell me Mike, who else needs to be involved in driving the referral culture at an organization?

Mike: Everybody.

Trisha: That’s scary.

Mike: I agree. But you guys have seen the presentation right?

Trisha: No

Mike: So it’s everyone. And there’s a reason why. What scares CEOs, marketing and sales about getting all the employees involved is when there isn’t an explicit referral culture – when people don’t understand the principals and values. Amplifinity employees understands the culture, it’s all about your customers and referrals. But when you get down to it I would say that this is the CEO’s challenge, because your leadership is going to make it or break it. And employees, you’re either fulfilling one of two roles. You’re either client facing or a behind the scenes support. Both sets of those employees have a tremendous impact without having to be a sales person.

Trisha: Alright. Now let’s dive into that because I’m sure there are developers out there that are absolutely frightened by that statement. But first let’s talk about client facing employees. So what can they do to both build and live a referral culture?

Mike: Are ready? This is going to sound crazy. And I might get struck down with a lightning bolt flung by all the other referral experts. If you’re client facing but not in sales, don’t ask for referrals. Looks like the internet didn’t shut down from me saying that.  Here the reason why.  First off, it’s kind of risky. And I would think that if you’re in customer support and all of a sudden you were required to ask for a certain number of referrals that it would perhaps be not exactly why you entered into that business. But the reason why it is risky is that whenever you ask for a referral whether you’re in the mail room or you’re a hardened outside salesperson, you’re creating an expectation and obligation. This introduces risk. So I would say that if you’re not in sales don’t take risks. Instead have fun and show appreciation. So every single person, whether they talk to a customer or anyone on the phone should be saying, ‘I love referrals.’

Trisha: And that’s easy.

Mike: It’s easy and it’s not risky. You’re not saying, ‘I took care of this software bug for you now give me a referral.’ Well what would you do if they say yes? You would have to talk to somebody else anyways. While marketing can be training employees on the core messaging, they can just say something like, ‘Anything else I can do for you? No? Just remember, we love referrals. If we can ever help you let us know.’

That is easy, automatic and it makes a difference.  And here’s why. One, customers don’t feel put on the spot to give, they just feel taken care of. And number two, the ones that will refer you will really like it.

Trisha: Absolutely. And I imagine those folks could certainly communicate with sales and let them know that they did something amazing and it went really well. And then that salesperson can think about if it is time to have a conversation with that customer about what they can do together to help grow business.

Mike: That’s brilliant! And if you’re in client success and you’re able to turn a difficult situation around, don’t waste that experience. Get with your sales and marketing department. That way you have double insurance to make sure that lead doesn’t drop. That lead needs to go in your CRM and put in your sales leader’s matrix for how you develop relationships. But if you don’t have that culture of showing appreciation and capturing it, that great experience is just wasted.

Trisha: Absolutely. And you know, as a salesperson if I knew that every single customer facing employee was talking about how much we love referrals that would be amazing. Really it is just setting that mindset and developing that relationship so it makes it so much easier for sales.

Mike:  Every employee can put it on their signature. As a regular employee, go to your marketing department if you’re not encouraged to say you love referrals and ask if it is okay to say it. It would be kind of bold but if you’re thinking about moving up, the mindset of how to take ownership of revenue is important. It is not about touches anymore. Your company, your job thrives on sales results. Believe it or not even a new employee can take ownership of sales and revenue and play your part.

Trisha: Absolutely. And if I were a CEO that is exactly what I would key into because I’m sitting there telling every employee that they need to be a part of driving revenue and these employees don’t understand how.  And it is so simple for them to do it.

Now, that is customer facing employees. Let’s talk about that developer we freaked out with the first statement that about them having a role in referrals. What can they do Mike?

Mike: That’s right. So, if you don’t actually want to talk to people you can still help. Cause I get it. I used to play World of Warcraft. I have a little introvert in me too. But think about social media. Everyone who has a smart phone has the ability to help market. So if you want to take ownership in revenue but you didn’t want to be in sales the good news is you don’t have to. There are way if you are willing, even once a week you can make little posts about your job and how you like it. Those things are invaluable. Because guess which people are trusted more? It isn’t marketing and sales.

When a receptionist talks about how they love the culture and love referrals people believe you more.

Trisha: Absolutely. It is more authentic. Now from a social media standpoint every single employee in the company has a network that sales can tap into and there can be some support there as sales starts to build their referral culture. But it sounds like what you’re also talking about is just laying the groundwork out there within their network about the value your company is bringing to your clients and beginning to share that information so that it makes referrals easier.

Mike: Yeah! So I’m going to take the responsibility off all those in sales and marketing, and then I’m going to give you an opportunity. So if your company doesn’t value the employee this is not going to work. Like if you don’t feel that the culture where you work supports referral and is really valuing people this isn’t going to work. Time to get a new job. But if you’re at a place you love working at, that you enjoy working at, that you feel like it is doing something important even if it is tough, then you can do a couple things. Number one, on your Facebook profile put where you work and if you can link it to your company Facebook page and then like the company page. One of the craziest things is when I start working with a company and then start noticing how many of the salespeople haven’t liked the company page. So if I were a CEO I would be looking into how many of my employees like the company page and actually have done a post with it. That would be a little leadership test. This isn’t something you can mandate. The other thing is if you’re really motivated and want to help I want you to go to the people who can make it easy and less risky for you. I want you to walk over to those marketing people and ask if there is a way they can help you authentically promote the company. And then if you’re at a true referral culture oriented company the sales department will have already talked to you and told you they love referrals. And maybe they might have even asked you if you can introduce them to someone that you know. Not everyone is in sales, but everybody is in referrals.

Trisha: Absolutely. And that is fantastic advice but that wraps back around to the CEO truly driving referral culture. And every single employee needs to see the results. They need to see how much business we are driving via referrals. How many referrals are coming in the door and how many are turning into actual revenue. That’s again all part of creating ownership of the revenue objective. And if referrals are a great way to achieve that revenue growth, which we all believe, to take on that revenue strategy, it’s taking it on holistically. It is not just saying we embrace our referral strategy. It is we walk and we own and we live a referral culture. That what drives us together to go after this revenue objective.

Mike: Yeah. When you really get down to it, a referral culture values other human beings. And that’s why all the employees have to be involved. Because if you want to step to the referral culture, every employee becomes extremely valuable. Not having to necessarily do as much activity as other employees but everyone has value.

Trisha: And who wouldn’t want to work for a company like that?

Mike: Exactly? I mean, HR do you want to improve retention? Then get on board with referral culture.

Trisha: Absolutely! Awesome! Well, let me attempt to wrap up here. So we talked about who needs to be involved in referral culture. It’s not just marketing or sales, it’s all employees. We kind of broke it into two buckets, customer facing employees and non-customer facing employees.  For customer facing it is as simple as walking the walk and talking the talk and saying you love referrals. Just making that a part of your everyday conversations. And with non-customer facing employees, it’s the idea that you still have a lot of power to authentically drive the value through your networks in social media and support that culture. And then of course to be talking about it and measuring and sharing those results with the entire company.

Did I sum that up well?

Mike: Yep! Killer!

Trisha: Awesome! Any last words about referral culture?

Mike: You’ve got to give a crap.

Trisha: Absolutely. And if you do there is the way to grow revenue!

Mike: Yes. And don’t forget that you have to have an automated component (referral software). I am not just shilling for Amplifinity. You can’t do this without leveraging technology. Look for great partners like Trisha to help you do this.

Trisha: And it is not just about technology Mike, it is about coaching the organization to build a referral culture and that is where Mike can help you out.

Mike: Awesome!

Trisha: Thanks so much for joining me for this discussion!

Mike: Alright. Take care Trisha!

resource library

How to build a referral culture within your marketing team [Interview]

As discussed in part 2 of the interview series with Mike Garrison, referral selling expert and President of Garrison Sales Consulting, building a referral culture requires sales buy-in and alignment with marketing. Here Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity and Mike, dive into how marketing can drive inbound referrals and enable sales to gather outbound referral to create a predictable referral selling system that grows revenue.

How enable referral culture to flourish within marketing

Trisha: Hi there, I’m Trisha Winter, CMO at Amplifinity and joining me today for another conversation about referral culture is Mike Garrison, business coach with referral sales expertise. Thank you for joining me Mike.

Mike: Happy to be here.

Trisha: So previously we talked about why referrals are important for a CEO as they’re thinking about growing revenue in their company and how to drive that down through the organization. Then we talked about sales and what’s important to sales in driving this, not just as a strategy but as a culture. Today I’d really like to discuss marketing in a lot more detail.

Mike: I love marketing.

Trisha: I do too. That’s why we get along, Mike.

Mike: That’s because we love referrals. And what is referrals?

Trisha: Yeah. Absolutely, it is a type of marketing. It’s a type of selling. It’s something that truly bridges between sales and marketing and that’s the beauty of it as we’re all trying to get better aligned. You know, smarketing is the term we throw out there.

Mike: Referrals are the world’s first and best form of marketing.

Trisha: Nice!

Mike: Word-of-mouth.

Trisha: Absolutely.

Mike: In fact I remember a couple of campaigns that are 2,000+ years old.

Trisha: (Laugh.) It’s the genesis of it all and we’re just coming back to it now in a smart way and it’s kind of because we’re forced to. Marketers are hitting a wall with the noise out there. We are trying to reach prospects. We’re trying to break through, but things that were successful a couple years ago aren’t and all of a sudden our conversion rates are going down a little bit. And you know we keep optimizing, we’re good at that in marketing. We get the data and tweak it, but it’s just not driving the revenue growth that the CEO is demanding, and that’s why marketers need to start thinking about how they can drive a referral strategy. This means changing their thinking in a referral culture. But tell me Mike, what do you think that this truly means that marketing needs to be doing?

Mike: I would say that if you’re a CMO, or just someone in the marketing department, welcome to the good news. Because here’s the deal, word-of-mouth marketing, contrary to all of the horrible referral training that 99% of the market puts out there, all of that stuff requires your expertise. When it comes to referrals, marketers, professionals, when you embrace this culture, knock down the fences and the walls, go out to lunch with the salespeople, together you have a complete referral culture. Because if there is one things you guys know how to do, it is how to measure, it is how to be responsible, it is how to predict and forecast. You guys know this stuff, you know it is not about personality. It is about messaging and communication. And when you understand that you’re going to get excited. So when think about it from a marketing standpoint, you guys are in charge, especially if you use Amplifinity or a software that helps you get those surprise referrals at the bottom that you can’t predict but you can if you harness the right technology (life referral software). See Trisha for more information on that.

But you guys understand that you can own inbound. Like the marketing department is going to own and run the inbound marketing for referrals. You guys are amazing. That’s going to have the salespeople love you. Those inbound aren’t leads, they’re referrals. Then, when you understand that you’re role in the outbound is no long just to push messages incessantly on social media and advertising, but instead to support the salespeople with your expertise. This is talking to a buyer that the only way to speak to is being referred. Salespeople are going to need all of marketing folks to help them move that customer from a status quo, meaning they’ve listened to you and talked to you because they were referred but don’t see why they should move further down the process. That is where the marketing department can come in with all of these great marketing materials. Suddenly all that you do is being designed to specifically address that target marketing, which you marketing people are experts at.

Trisha: And I think you keyed into an important word there, and that’s target buyer. Because you can’t do anything now a days in marketing. You can’t go out there and do a general lead generation campaign unless you’re specific on who it’s focused at. But I don’t think marketing always does a great job at communicating who those people are to sales. And they’re probably the most important people who need to understand who is a fit for your solution. And that is a key part of the referral. Because you don’t want introductions for the sake of introduction. You want introduction to the right people who fit and have the need for what you’re driving. Would you agree with that?

Mike: I would completely agree. It’s one of the thing we talk about in sales.  It’s like the person in the mail room will be willing to meet with you and talk to you but they’re not signing any contract. And so as the salespeople in your organization start to get referrals to the right people they’re going to need to know what to say. They can’t just talk about product. They’re going to need research. They’re going to need articles. They’re going to need to be able to bring value to that prospect before the prospect wants to look at your product. Who’s better at helping with than marketing?

And that also leads me to this marketers, you need to understand the difference between people that can refer and people that will refer. And so take that targeted marketing that you guys know, and then work with your sales department to be able to identify which of the customers are going to actually be worth the extra investment of time to be able to develop as referral sources. In addition, when you start thinking about referral channels, such as channel partners, and you start thinking about outside referral sources, as your sales people develop these relationships are going to need to be able to tap into your expertise to able to develop customized material that will go through another company or salesperson to their customers. This is something sales reps know little about. And when you create a referral culture and your CEO is involved and they’ve got the vision; when your salespeople are involved and have taken marketing out to lunch to ask them for referrals and try and get to know them, then you guys as marketer become an invaluable asset. Here you get to do what you really know how to do best – analyze data, create customized messaging, solve communication problems, ensure that what can be automated is automated and done really well, and what is personal is preserved. The salespeople have got to have the time to do the human-to-human and they can’t do it without marketing. In fact, the entire sales effort for referrals falls apart if you don’t have an automated humanized system.

Trisha: Absolutely. A referral culture is based on the idea that there is a give-get. Many times you have an operational hassle that marketing is completely in the right position to take that hassle away from sales and really align with them. I wanted to dive in a little bit more to inbound versus outbound referrals.  So tell me a little bit about those two types of referral and marketing’s role in that.

Mike: I also call it reactive and proactive. So reactive referrals happen when someone remembers you and your organization and tells someone about it. Which sounds like marketing to me.

Trisha: Absolutely. If we’ve done a good job at putting out information about it and enabling people to bring us that introduction then we could get that repetitive type of referral.

Mike: Especially if you use a really good piece of software. So within the marketing department the inbound is how you are building brand awareness. The inbound is how you are consistently helping salespeople and other people, not just employees but channel partners and channel marketers, but helping to place them in a position where these referrals can happen consistently and then over a period of time you will be able to predict it and understand what is necessary and effective. And you guys measure it. So inbound is just too hard for the sales department. They just can’t do it. Then there is the way sales complains, ‘Well we get all these leads but they don’t convert.’ But when your inbound is referrals that’s a different concept. We’re not talking about little catchy emails to people that have never heard of you. We’re talking about people saying, ‘Wow, that was an amazing Facebook video. How do I get a hold of them?’ Sound like something Amplifinity can help with?

Trisha: Absolutely.

Mike: And you guys are unique in the way that Amplifinity is the only company I know that values the sales rep explicitly. And marketing, as weird as that sounds, that’s your secret. When the sales rep feels that the inbound is personalized to them you are an asset. Outbound – proactive. This is what everyone has gotten messed up on. We’ve restricted outbound in so many ways to cold calling, to emailing, and I’m not saying those are bad. I’m just all about what’s most effective and nothing is more effective than a referral if you are proactive. The proactive side of marketing is you guys can help identify and help the salespeople identify as you build relationships and be very proactive and more effective with their outbound reaches to referral sources. And then, because of your ability to gather data and assess it, you could be a coach to the sales reps and sales leaders. Here marketing leads the inbound and coaches the outbound. This doesn’t mean you don’t create great messaging campaigns

Trisha: Yeah, and I definitely agree with that. I think fundamentally as a marketer if you can approach both inbound and outbound, putting them together in a holistic solution where again you can eliminate the hassle for sales you can gets true sales and marketing alignment. It really is the first approach of its kind. It really says, ‘Hey, I truly own a revenue objective now in marketing. I can see the direct impact that I’m driving both on driving inbound referrals as well as enabling outbound referrals.’ And truly share that with sales. And that’s the biggest mistake I see on the marketing side is that when marketing decides to do a referral program they try to do it in isolation from sales. It is a big mistake. It is not just that I think it is a mistake. We do an annual study of all the referrals program run on Amplifinity, both customer and partner programs, and the results show that programs that have sales involved and alignment and connection between marketing and sales are more successful. The conversion rate from referral lead to making a purchase is so much higher.

Mike: They can find that on your website by the way. And this isn’t concepts but actual data. And for marketers, this data does not decrease your value, it enhances it. And I think the future of compensation is going to include marketing and sales together.

Trisha: Absolutely. I think once marketing starts owning that marketing objective this will become a reality.

Mike: Welcome to your new Mercedes marketing.

Trisha: Com’on bonus plan!

Mike: You know, this new world, like social selling which every marketer has heard of, is referrals. It’s not something new. And believe it or not, marketers already completely understand this. You just have to shift your mind a little bit and once you do the sales department is going to call you to ask for help.

Trisha: Absolutely. So let me sum up a little bit of the fundamentals of what we’ve been talking about:

  • For marketing to truly embrace the referral culture there needs to be an alignment between sales and marketing.
  • Referrals are a channel. And you’re setting up a channel to drive inbound referrals and enable outbound referrals. Starting way back in the beginning you’re helping sales to be educated on who they want to get as a referral.
  • You need to drive and apply that expertise that marketing has built up in a different way to really enable these introductions and conversations versus just thinking about data and conversions.

We’ve talked about the referral culture top down. We’ve talked about how to build it in sales, and now how to build it in marketing. Next time let’s get together and talk about the common joe employee and what their role is.

Mike: I can’t wait!

Trisha: Awesome! Thanks Mike.

In the meantime, explore the Amplifinity resource library to keep learning how to build your referral culture.

How to build a referral culture within your sales team [Interview]

As discussed in part 1 of the interview series with Mike Garrison, referral selling expert and President of Garrison Sales Consulting, building a referral culture requires leadership. But this includes leadership within individual departments. Here Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity and Mike dive into how to develop a referral culture within sales in order to create a predictable referral selling system that grows revenue.


How to instill a referral culture within your sales team – Interview

Trisha: Hi, I’m Trish Winter, CMO of Amplifinity and today I’ve got Mike Garrison with me who is a business coach with a ton of referral selling expertise. Thank you for joining me today Mike.

Mike: Hey, it’s my pleasure. You know I hate talking.

Trisha: Oh yeah. So this is our second conversation. Last time we talked we were talking about  referral culture and why it’s such an important initiative top down at an organization. Today I really wanted us to dive into a particular department and that’s sales. Because that is usually the first thing that everybody thinks about when they think about referrals. It’s the salesperson asking for that referral. But let’s talk about what really a referral culture means to the sales department.

Mike: Sweet! I love sales. In fact I used to have a URL called I Love Sales Coaching.

Trisha: Really?

Mike: I have issues. I have like 30 domain names. I just keep buying them. It’s like my hobby. But anyways when you get down to the sales culture it’s not just about getting. Salespeople – you can’t be predators. In the new social and digital world your customers can and will vet you all along the referral pipeline and sales funnel. So understand that you can’t just be taking but also giving.  And I know that’s a challenge, but that’s what it get down to with salespeople, you can’t just care about the deal. If you’re still trying to sell product this is not going to work for you.

And you know, I was just thinking Trish about the video we did last time and how it’s so much about leadership. Leadership isn’t restricted to the C-level. Leadership is required in referrals because you’ve got at a minimum three people involved. You’ve got the salesperson, the referral source and the prospect. And the way that you create a referral culture as a salesperson is you stop thinking in terms of getting and you start thinking in terms of leading. Treat it like your own a mini organization. You have to start asking yourself a few questions. What is necessary for my career? What is necessary for me to be growth oriented in a sustainable way? You can’t be just running outside going hunting with a spear and stabbing something. You’ve got to think about farming too.

Trisha: So I totally love the concept of leadership within an individual salesperson. But let’s talk about the sales manager, that sales VP right?  You know if you’re truly going to embrace referrals as a culture, referrals is a strategy that the sales team is going to do. And by the way that we all know they need to do because traditional selling is not working. You can’t just dial a certain number of dials a day and expect that you’re going to break through the noise. You’ve got to get that warm introduction in order to do that. But how does a sales leader approach that with their team?

Mike: Great question. So here is some good news, if you work with Amplfiinity, you’re not going to get fired by having a referral based sales function because you’re going to have technology and automation which is going to create inbound stuff that you really want. Hey sales leaders, Amplifinity makes the marketing department your friend. So enough of the shameless plugs. I love it because I work at the top of the pipeline. That’s how you and I met. I was one of the people who was like, you guys are perfect. You take care of the inbound stuff and move referrals with the salespeople to the top of the pipeline.

So here is the good news sales managers – you’ve got to be a leader. Here’s the bad news – you’ve got to be a leader. And what that means is referrals can’t be based on emotions. You’re going to have to create or work with other folks like me and Trisha. You’re going to have to create systems that move your salespeople from referrals are a done deal to referrals are an introduction to a prospect that wouldn’t talk to me otherwise. And then you’re going to need to help the salespeople figure out how to move people through a buyer’s journey without hard selling them on product. So while it’s not easier, the bright side is you may have just discovered the #1 secret to job security as a sales manager. That means all of a sudden you get to do what you’re best at – coaching your salespeople. They’re going to need it and appreciate it, and you’re going to be profitable. But we got to eliminate emotion as the reason people refer because it’s not true.

Trisha:  I completely agree. And fundamentally there’s also the aspect of making sure you’re driving the right behavior in your team.

Mike: Absolutely!

Trisha: But you still have to have accountability and metrics and measurement.  And one of my favorite things that I’ve observed sales leadership within a referral culture do is assign ownership. And this is a concept you can track within your CRM.  You assign ownership between that sales rep and that referral source.

Mike: You have to.

Trisha: And when you do you can measure and drive the sales team to certainly recruiting more referral sources but also asking on a regular basis in the right way, doing a give-get with those referral sources to drive those high-quality leads in and even routing those leads back to the sales rep that owns it to organically  incentivize your team and help to build that referral culture. That way you are saying that if you treat this referral source – customer, partner, influencer, whoever that person is, if you treat them well and they refer someone who might not be in your territory or you might not be up next in the round robin or whatever your lead routing rules are, you say they are referring them because they like the relationship they have with me as the salesperson. So because of it that’s going to come right back to me, that’s a great way a sales leader can set up a system to organically motivate their team to build this referral strategy and referral culture.

Mike: I could not agree more. And I would say that the importance of it goes beyond what you just said. A real referral culture makes sure that you’re never taking all the time. That you’re giving. And if you do the traditional round robin and take the referrals and have them handled by other sales reps that the referral sources don’t know, two horrible things happen. One, you make communication more complex. That’s not profitable. Just think about what you’re doing. You’re demanding more and more communication from a diverse network. It’s not effective.

The second thing is that you’re dramatically restricting the ability of your sales reps, the marketing team, and the customer experience team to develop the kind of insight that will drive giving referrals. Right?

That’s why I love Amplifinity. With their referral software they can automate so much of the easy stuff and predict the surprises so the sales team can focus on the high level relationship development. Which, no slam against marketing, but the people that aren’t in the market won’t respond but they will always respond to a peer. That’s how you get those appointments you would never get otherwise. I’m not talking about dials. I’m talking about appointments. And this is where sales leadership comes in. It is not good enough to just get referrals. Those referrals need to result in appointments. And maybe not selling appointments traditionally where you’re selling your product, but if your referrals aren’t resulting in at least a phone call or conversation then they might need some work. And here’s the good news sales leaders, you can do this.

Trisha: Absolutely. I think this is so critical. I preach to my sales team all the time. Guys I don’t pick up my phone anymore. I don’t even look at prospecting emails that come through. You can’t reach me that way. And this is just a fact of life at this point in time which means that sales folk and marketers need to approach this in a different way. And I think the beauty of going back to the way it has always been done for eons is I’m going to trust something because I have a peer – a trusted adviser, making a recommendation to me.

Mike: It is almost like this has been going on for thousands of year. It is crazy right?

Trisha: Oh yeah!

Mike: So I’ve got a little hint. You ready?

Trisha: Yeah

Mike: This is a new one for you. Okay, so, how many of your sales reps in your career have nurtured a relationship with you to get referrals from you?

Trisha: ZERO!

Mike: That is so stupid!

Trisha: Yes!

Mike: Right, so here’s the referral culture sale leaders. Sit down with the marketing department and find out who they are and what they’re about. They’re building relationships all the time. And if you’re a salesperson at Amplifinity . . . (shake head) why wouldn’t you as sales leaders develop a relationship with the people who are best suited to message and interact with those at the top of the pipeline? Why aren’t you getting referrals from the best people in the organization? I think we all know why. It is because you have labeled them into the inbound side. You’ve decided that they don’t know how to sell. That is all caca.

Trisha: Yeah.

Mike: I’m just saying if you’re not getting referrals, not leads, referrals. If you’re not getting referrals from the marketing department shame on you.

Trisha: I definitely think that if we’re advising sales and sales leadership on how to build a referral culture in sales that taking your head of marketing out to lunch having a real conversation about how you align together on driving a referral strategy is absolutely a top of the list thing for a sales leader to do.

Mike: And that all good. But that person has to network. I would be asking them for referrals.

Trisha: Absolutely.

Mike: If you don’t you’re an idiot. CEOs . . . you can’t have that. Those two people should be doing referrals back and forth. I know it happens at Amplifinity.

Trisha: It does. And I think fundamentally as we all begin to own the revenue objective for the company, and back to when we were talking about the CEO. The CEO needs ever single executive in every single department to be owning the revenue objective. And as soon as you embrace that and the different executive titles start asking, ‘What can I do?’, you’ll notice the people in your network that you are connected to that are fits for target buyers that you are all aiming your quivers at.

Mike: I’ve got one more. Are you ready for it?

Trisha: Yeah, go for it.

Mike: If you’re a sales leader and you and your sales team aren’t connected on every social channel with everyone is marketing and customer experience, you’re a double idiot.

Trisha: True. So let me sum up the key points we’ve been talking about here as far as driving a referral culture within sales:

  • Fundamentally there’s got to be an attitude of give-get not an old school predatory attitude.
  • Sales leadership has to really think about driving to different metrics. Not about dials-a-day but rather meaningful conversations that are driving referrals into meetings but still metrics.
  • Ensure that you consider lead-routing and what that means so you are preserving that relationship and the fruit of that relationships. The meetings with those prospects need to be handled in the right way as opposed to switching it over to a third party.
  • Certainly there is an entire set of employees out there within your organization that can help you to build your referral network and that can help you to drive interest and activity.
  • And of course align with marketing which is something I would like to talk to you next time we are together. It is going to be a key step for any sales leader. This is a great way to align and together show that marketing and sales are working together to drive their revenue objective

Did I sum that up okay?

Mike: Yep. That’s awesome!

Trisha: Wonderful! Well, until next time when we will dive into marketing’s role in building a referral culture. Thanks so much Mike!

Mike: Thanks Trisha! Take care.


Resources with link to to resource page with referral program ideas

How to build a referral culture in your company [Interview]

There has been a lot of talk about driving revenue growth through predictable referrals and the impact it has on a business. But figuring out how to successfully implement it can be difficult.  In a recorded interview, Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity talks to Mike Garrison, President of Garrison Sales Consulting, about how to start to build a referral culture within and across your company.

The process of building a referral culture in your company – Interview

Trisha: Hello, I’m Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity and today I’m interviewing Mike Garrison, business coach with referral sales expertise. Really excited to talk to you today, Mike. Thanks for joining me.

Mike: You’re very welcome.

Trisha: So Mike, I’ve heard you talk before. I know that when you’re working with your clients and coaching them on what it means to get referrals predictably in a business I’ve heard you mention referral culture. So tell me a little about what you mean by that.

Mike: When I think about referral culture I’m not looking at how you just get referrals but the entire system from every single employee in the organization – CEO to mail room clerk. How does every single person not only play a role, but play a role you can leverage for predictable sales. I say predictable referral system but really it’s about can you forecast the sales results, and you can. And so referral culture is how you look at the entire way you interact with prospects and clients. Not when you are just thinking about how you can get results right now. For example, for CEOs leadership is everything when you’re considering the concept of referral culture. As a CEO you have to look at the culture of your organization and see whether it supports or it doesn’t support referrals on a continuous predictable basis.

Trisha: Got it. So truly why is a CEO thinking about this or should they be thinking about building a referral culture? I get where you are probably talking to the VP of Sales and working through this but what brings this on the radar of a CEO?

Mike: The right kind of CEO it works for are those that are about leadership and about sustainable growth. This means those that are really responsible for the best long-term interests of an organization. Everyone that is in business knows that referrals win. Nothing is better than a referral. So, the question becomes if referrals are really that valuable how can you make them the cornerstone? Not the only way you do business but the cornerstone. And in all of my year of working with sales teams, which is too many to admit to, the #1 thing that makes or breaks sales is the referral culture.

When I went out to visit Amplifinity, even though all you do is referrals, it was immediately apparent that everyone in the business was invested in and interested in customer success and the long-term growth of the company. That is what I’m talking about. A CEO has got to be thinking about how to make sure that six months from now, a year from now, two years from now, three years from now that we can be not only successful but unique. Branding is everything in a social world. A referral culture sets the standard from marketing experts like yourself, for the people that answer the phones, for every person that interacts or impacts the interaction with customers to add or detract from the culture of the business and especially referral culture.

Trisha: And I completely agree but I think that is very different way of thinking. As an executive thinks about their business and approaches revenue growth they’re looking in a very siloed way at sales and marketing, maybe the channel organization to say, okay we’ve got to drive revenue growth. They’re not thinking about it as every single employee in the company has a role in this and that role may be very different from one department to another. But truly it is a growth culture by being a referral culture. I think that is very new.

How would a CEO even approach this?

Mike: Well, one of the way they could approach it is read a book called Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard. This talks about how even the most commoditized of businesses can get referrals. Now I’ll remind you this is before social media. But this is where referral culture started to stick for me. I read that book and it talked about how a gas station, car driver and a grocery store could create raving fans from their customers. And have spectacular growth even within heavily commoditized industries.

And so from the CEO perspective, if you really want referrals, and we know you do, whether you’re ADP or Joe the plumber, instead of listening to all the people that come out and talk out tactics here and tactics there you need to teach customers and partner or whoever to give referrals which is what my training offers.

Trisha: So if you were to coach a CEO on how to build this referral culture within their organization where would you tell them to start?

Mike: I would first ask them all the standard questions that coaches ask. But when you get down to it the fundamental core conversation I would have with that CEO is how can we make your business better. A referral culture isn’t how we can make money, it’s about how can we make it better. And then I would ask that person to start getting face-to-face with as many employees from as many different sectors as possible. Silos kill referral culture. Talk to your employees and ask how you can make it better.

Trisha: Got it. So a big thing we find at Amplifinity when people are looking to get that revenue growth and looking to really build referral programs that together build a channel for predictably driving inbound, high quality leads, is the idea it’s really a tightly aligned program between sales and marketing and often even customer success. I don’t know of any other type of initiative that really goes cross departments to align the goals of these typically siloed departments. Is that part of what you are talking about in building the culture?

Mike: Well it is a whole system. You have to look at every aspect. Like technology within marketing and sales, especially in larger companies, your CTOs and technology experts have got to be involved because you’ve got to leverage relationships not only face-to-face but across networks. Now-a-days, referral culture requires technology. In order for you to be able to get enough business consistently you’ve got to have resources and you’ve got to have ways of communicating effectively. It’s not like you have to do this all face-to-face, you can leverage great technology like Amplifinity referral software. You’ve got the bedrock of a referral culture which can bring referrals in with the technology that create predictable revenue. The only way you can do that predictably is software like Amplifinity. You cannot predict the human-to-human relationship unless you can get back up to the top of the funnel. Let human beings do the hard relationship development of prospects that aren’t in the market and then use technology to leverage these relationships you already have with customers to have these surprise referrals not be surprises any more. That only works with technology. And when you talk about a CEO, that CEO has got to have a vision of a complete system so that they can make sure they don’t spend money on the wrong things.

But when you get down to it, if the CEO lives and breathes referral culture it will bring in HR as well. You will hire differently when you have a real referral culture. Good news is that the younger generation are really inclined toward these thing. These folks seem to be really oriented toward relationships. As CEO, long-term I would be trying to leverage these people’s predilection toward developing a relationship.

Trisha: Absolutely! So in future conversations I would really love to dive into the different departments like marketing, sales and the standard employee and what their role would be in this referral culture. But overall this was a great conversation. Here are a few point we touched on:

  • Referrals need to be a priority on the CEOs radar because it is what they can do to break through the noise.
  • Referrals allow CEOs to really change up the way they’re thinking about driving revenue to make it predictable and truly give them a way to meet the growth objective they’re driving toward.
  • It’s not just about deciding to buy a certain technology. While it is an important foundational part of it, it is really about driving a change within the organization across departments. Here we can make sure everyone is playing their role in thinking about driving growth for the company which can be done through the smallest changes in attitude, how they talk to customer and partners. This is something a CEO needs to be driving across departments by working with each department moving forward.

Does that sum it up well?

Mike: I’d say so.

Trisha: Okay. Well thank you so much for talking with me today Mike and I look forward to talking to you next time about sales and what sales can do to help build a referral culture.

In the meantime, explore the Amplifinity resource library to keep learning how to build your referral culture.

New Data Report on the State of Referral Partners Uncovers greater Growth Opportunities

Originally published on PRWeb.

Amplifinity, a leader in referral program software, today announced the publication of a new data report on partner referral programs, The State of Business Partner Referral Programs – Annual Report.

The State of Business Partner Referral Programs – Annual Report, is the first report of its kind to provide detailed insight into the success of partner referral programs. The data is aggregated from partner referral programs run on the Amplifinity platform.

This first annual report sets an industry benchmark for partner referral behavior, how partners are making referrals and the corresponding conversion rates. Reward types and amounts were also analyzed as well as the impact of sales involvement in driving partner recruitment and referrals.

An interesting data point for channel marketers is the average partner referral conversion rate from lead to deal of 31%. This is a drastic increase over the partner lead industry average of 0.48% and the referral industry average of 3.63% according to a study done by Salesforce’s Implisit.

But this didn’t surprise Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity, “It is actually quite reasonable to me that partner referrals taking place on the Amplifinity platform resulted in such a higher conversion rate than the partner lead industry average. When companies have the ability to enable partners with target buyer information while automating referral tracking, communications and incentive fulfillment it’s easy to see how partner referral volume and quality would sky rocket compared to ad hoc partner leads.”

Kathy Contreras, Research Director for Channel Strategies at SiriusDecisions commented, “Partner referral programs can be used in any industry and offer a way to motivate and reward partners for identifying and registering new leads. This type of partnership [referral partners] provides the opportunity to align with organizations that have strong relationships with a supplier’s target buyers, but are not interested in or qualified to resell the supplier’s offerings (e.g. suppliers that provide collaborative solutions, systems integrators, consultants, influencers, etc).”

Kathy Contreras and Trisha Winter will discuss the data and share best practices for building a market-leading partner program on a live webinar July 20th at 11:00am ET.

Another promising data point was the impact of sales involvement on the conversion rate of partner referral leads. Partner referral leads from programs with sales involvement showed an increase from the overall average referral to deal conversion rate to a 41% success rate.

“It was encouraging to see the data supports the concept that channel professionals already know – personalized engagement of partners and their leads improves conversion,” says Winter. “Channel marketing can drive some activity, but sales is in a perfect position to both recruit and engage partners to make referrals. This concept also can be linked to why social media was the second most used referral method but had no success according to the data.”

As the first annual report, Winter believes it will be used widely to understand new opportunities to achieve growth objectives in an ever changing market and as a benchmark for companies already running partner referral programs. “The partner ecosystem is undergoing a shift to a largely SaaS based offering, which is especially impacting the technology and telecom space. Along with this there is a need in every industry to scale partner operations, prove reseller productivity and fit, and grow leads from non-reseller partners. I’m glad that Amplifinity can provide this benchmarking partner referral data. It will be interesting to see how other partner focused companies align and respond to it.”

To get more insight, download the full analysis, The State of Business Partner Referral Programs – Annual Report.

Customer Referral Programs: Top Methods and Rewards

Originally published on MarketingProfs.

The most effective method for a current customer to refer a potential customer to a business is a verbal recommendation, according to recent research from Amplifinity.

The State of Business Customer Referral Programs report was based on data businesses that use the Amplifinity platform. Respondents came from a mix of B2B and B2C firms.

The most common referral methods employed by the surveyed firms surveyed are lead forms (77% use them), email (73%), verbal (54%), social media (50%), shareable URLs (41%), and print cards (18%).

The highest volume of referrals come from social media (29%) and email (23%), respondents said. Below are additional findings from the research.

Verbal referrals have the best conversion rate of any referral method (32% of referrals lead to sales); lead forms rank second (19%), and email ranks third (17%).Referral programs most successful use, referral software, referral program software
Among current customers who make referrals, 61% make one referral per year, on average, and 34% make 2-10 referrals per year.

referral software, referral program, customer referral software, referral methods

The most popular incentive for referrals is gift cards (52% of businesses surveyed offer them); checks rank second (29%).

referral incentives, referral rewards, customer rewards

About the research: The State of Business Customer Referral Programs report was based on data businesses that use the Amplifinity platform. Respondents came from a mix of B2B and B2C firms.