An open letter from a humble B2B sales exec to the marketing director

Author’s Note: The letter below is intended to represent the types of comments and challenges I hear from enterprise companies that come to Amplifinity seeking a solution for their own company’s referral program. This blog is written from the point-of-view of a sales rep who is fictional (lest readers make the assumption that I have directed it to Amplifinity or Amplifinity’s stellar marketing team!).  ~Bryan Tucker, Amplifinity Sales Exec and Passionate Promoter of Amplifinity’s Referral Program Software
To Our Valued Marketing Director at ACME Corporation,As one of the sales reps at ACME, I am grateful for marketing programs and the people who create them.  In fact, I’m tired of all the blogs about the tension between sales and marketing teams. I think you guys work really hard, and I don’t think our company would bemarketing vs sales 11 300x186 1 resized 600 where we are today if it weren’t for you! You fill up my pipeline with leads from your webinars and inbound marketing campaigns, and you help me reignite stalled opportunities with quarterly marketing promotions. You’re helping me and frankly, I wish I could help you more.So today, I’m offering my help. I want to talk to you about our ACME referral program. What an outstanding initiative you’ve developed! All good sales people already know the best leads come from current customers referring your business.  But now you’ve created a program to remind us to ask for referrals instead of hoping they just happen. That’s great news!BUT here’s the bad news: I’m not promoting your referral program to my customers. Here’s why:1. I’m selfish.When one of my prospects registers for your webinar, submits a demo request, or calls our sales line, I follow up and it’s easy to do.  And I’d be lying if I said that helping them helps me meet my quota. But when a lead comes in as a result of the referral program you’re running? If it is my current customer who made the referral, I would like to get some of the credit.

I wish…when one of my customers makes a referral, it would be automatically tracked and routed to me.

2. You never ask.

You invested a lot of time and money getting this program launched, but after the inaugural internal promotion of the program, we never heard another word about it.

Conferences, newsletters, webinars — we hear a lot about those before and after they happen. So what happened to that referral program you talked about several months ago?

I wish… I was incentivized and actively encouraged to promote the referral program. And I wish there was an easy way to measure my accomplishments without asking you to do more work.

3) It’s a hassle.

One of my current customers clicked-thru one of your referral program promotional emails and he made a referral. When his friend accepted the referral and was routed to the sales department, I was randomly assigned the lead. But it could have just as easily been another sales person in our department who got that lead.

Despite getting that lead, I’m in a predicament. For the past three weeks I’ve been fielding questions from my customer who made the referral.  She wants to know the status of the reward she earned through our program. I wish I could help her, but no one in sales knows where to find that information! I have no idea where her reward is.

I wish…that there was an automatic way to update our customers’ referral statuses so that their rewards could be delivered promptly. It doesn’t make me or our company look very good when no one can answer what should be a pretty simple question.

As a sales rep, I know that referral leads close quicker and customers that come from a referral tend to buy more.

imgresSo, dear marketer, I really do appreciate all you do for me, but could you please help me help you? Find an automated referral program and we will both have less work to do.  I’ll get more credit for my work, and you’ll get more credit for yours! And I’m willing to bet that our customers at ACME will appreciate how organized and efficient we are in serving them and keeping them happy.

Let’s talk, ok?

Sincerely, Your Faithful B2B Sales Rep

 

Top 3 reasons referral programs fail

As marketers and salespeople, we all know the power and impact of word-of-mouth on our business, yet we still struggle to leverage it.  Why?  Because it’s hard to measure, difficult to systematize, and seemingly impossible to monetize.  While these challenges exist in some cases, Amplifinity continues to prove every day that the best way to solve them is through closed-loop referral marketing programs.  Before launching another mediocre referral program that will fail to drive meaningful long-term lead volume, consider these three common referral program mistakes:

#1 – Failure to support them with the right systems, processes and strategies

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com said it best: “Although every company knows customer references are important, most companies have a lax approach to managing them.” Just like any other marketing program a referral program must be well strategized, tested and continually optimized to ensure peak performance. And when you automate a referral program and take the manual tracking and management aspect out of the equation, the results are even better. 

Takeaway? You can’t just ‘set it and forget it’ and expect good, long-term results.

#2 – Lack of executive sponsorship

Typically, a referral program is initiated by an executive and handed off to a junior-level employee to drive – often without the proper knowledge or bandwidth. As a result, the program is launched haphazardly and left to run itself.  Sure this method can provide average results, but we all know average isn’t gonna’ pay the bills.

Takeaway? Referral programs that are continually improved upon – and viewed as long-term acquisition channels have the power to produce just that: ongoing and sustainable customer acquisitions.

#3 – The Black Hole effect

In order to manage lead volume and quality, it’s important that every customer, prospect, and sales rep enrolled in the referral program is kept in the loop regarding the status of their referrals and any incentives tied to them.  When referrals are made and disappear into a “black hole,” engagement plummets, operational costs of managing escalations increase precipitously, and the program loses credibility.

Takeaway? Customers who refer new business to you are your BEST customers. Regular communication and nurturing them results in satisfied, high-producing additions to your company’s “sales team.”

Do you have a tip for building successful referral programs for your business? We’d love to add them to our blog!