How marketing can get sales asking for referrals

Innovative . . . at one point being described this way by an industry expert would have given a company a huge differentiation. But in the past few years the title of innovator has become less of a differentiation and more of a requirement in business in order to even compete in an overcrowded ecosystem. While innovation can be broadly defined, when talking about innovation it is usually referring to the reinventing of business process, structure, or model.  One area this has been evident is in the sales and marketing arena. Between marketing taking majority responsibility for lead generation and sales becoming key to the success of marketing initiatives like referrals, the inclusion of sales enablement functionality within marketing programs has become vital. In fact, Hubspot discovered that sales and marketing misalignment costs companies $1 trillion per year in decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts.

Referral marketing programs have become an established way to generate leads, and have even been called innovative. But in order to take referrals to the next level and make them a transformative lead generation initiative, marketers need a technological catalyst that can align sales with marketing and motivate sales to generate more marketing leads by asking for referrals.

Here are three ways to accomplish this task.

3 ways to motivate sales to increase referral leads

  1. Promote your referral program to sales

When thinking about promoting a referral program or any program, companies generally don’t include a campaign to sales in the promotional strategy. But like with customers and partners, sales is an integral part of a referral program and that means they need to be engaged in it.  Many times what happens with a referral program is sales doesn’t feel driven enough to start or continue asking for referrals. And if the referral program isn’t implemented as a strategic channel worked by marketing AND sales it could be forgotten about. One company who understood the need for sales to be an engaged is Cable One Business. At launch, Cable One Business:

  • Had an email blast targeted at associates that emphasized the value of the program
  • Made program specific branding to give the referral program a recognizable look to salespeople
  • Put up flyers around the offices that had details about the referral program to create awareness and understanding
  • Hung flyers in the bathroom with the theme of cheesy pickup lines that would teach sales how to start asking for referrals

Through Cable One Business’s promotion to their sales teams they were able to successfully align sales and marketing goals in the referral program.

  1. Structure your referral program to incentivize sales

For companies that have run a referral program they know that along with being motivated by loyalty, advocates are motivated by incentives. When asking for referrals, salespeople are no different. Salespeople have a hard job and high quotas to fulfill. So what do they get out of taking some of their precious time and using it for a marketing owned program? Well, by instituting a program that can enable advocate ownership, sales can overrides the normal lead routing rules. This way any referrals that come from the advocates owned by a specific salesperson will go to that salesperson instead of keeping with regular lead routing rules. The referral functionality motivates sales to invite and nurture customers to become engaged advocates while working their referrals. This then becomes another means to meet quotas and get sales commissions. By aligning sales and marketing goals within the referral program a company can drastically increase revenue. Hubspot discovered that companies whose sales and marketing teams are aligned generated 208% higher marketing revenue when compared against misaligned teams.

In addition to implementing this type of functionality, many companies have also made referrals a part of sales team’s quota incentive. Cable One Business offered their salespeople a $4,000 incentive if they hit certain revenue goals which included submitting at least 4 referrals.

  1. Make it easy for sales to take part in the referral program

A company can promote and incentivize their sales team all they want, but if it isn’t easy to see advocate and referral data, and recruit and nurture customers, they aren’t going to put the effort in. This is where having the referral program data and functionality integrated into the sales CRM is critical. It’s not surprising that Aberdeen found that salespeople spend up to 43 hours/month trying to find information. To put this in perspective, that is 10.75 hours a week, and over one day of work. A referral program shouldn’t add to that struggle. By having a sales enabled referral program, sales has access to everything they need in their CRM instead of having to search through multiple programs and locations to find it. This includes functionality and data such as:

  • Ability to invite customers to the program
  • Seeing referring advocate information to reach out and qualify the referral and get a facilitated introduction
  • Seeing advocate referral metrics in order to nurture them to refer multiple times
  • Ability to input trackable verbal referrals for both registered and unregistered advocates
  • See lead source as a referral

Aberdeen proved that companies with top-tier sales enablement strategies experience 13.7% annual increase in deal size. Discover what a sales enabled referral program will do for your ROI. Try the ROI calculator now!

How RingCentral overcame common referral marketing challenges

Everyone knows the metaphor of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly. A transformation from an existence only slightly more spectacular than a worm to defying gravity in a beautiful array of color. But becoming a butterfly doesn’t just happen. It takes work and labor by the caterpillar to surround itself in the cocoon and then break through all its hard work to escape the confines it created and fly. However, we rarely talk about the struggle the caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly only the marvelous fact that the transformation happened.

A similar occurrence happens in the business world. Sometimes it appears as if businesses are just naturally blessed with successful lead generation initiatives like referral marketing. But the truth is that most businesses just don’t talk about the challenges they faced. For obvious reasons, they prefer to talk about their success. However, a business that overcame their referral program challenges are a trove of information since many referral marketing programs can face similar roadblocks to growth including:

  • Friendly fraud – When Salespeople and customer Advocates find a way to game the system and take advantage of it.
  • Breakage – The referral program isn’t able to successfully attribute the Advocate back to the lead causing dissatisfaction among users and poorly effecting the success of the program.

One business that has done a marvelous job overcoming referral marketing challenges and understand the value of sharing this information is RingCentral .

How RingCentral overcame referral marketing challenges

RingCentral has had 3 different referral marketing programs. They launched their first referral marketing program between 2010 and 2011 as a homegrown referral program. They understood the value of referrals and while it was one of their top performing channels it had some challenges.

What worked:

  • eCommerce made it easy to generate leads
  • Great customer loyalty
  • Small customers making small referrals resulted in good conversions

What didn’t work:

  • Small leads made for low revenue contribution
  • Difficult to resolve attribution which caused a high number of customer complaints to Sales
  • Strained communication between Sales, Marketing and the Advocates

This lead to the realization that they needed a more robust platform.

The second referral marketing program was a combination of Marketo and Crowd Factory, and while it was an improvement they still found some functionality lacking.

What worked:

  • Automated fulfillment removed manual hassle
  • Improved ways to refer with social media and email
  • Sales integrated into the process

What didn’t work:

  • A complex system with too many points of failure and no visibility to troubleshoot
  • So many layers to the program that there was no way to know if something failed unless a customer complained which hurt the success of the program
  • No visibility for customers into their referral status
  • No way to easily get Advocate data/reporting
  • Significant resources needed to manage the program’s operation and keep it up and running
  • Lacked clear communication back to Sales

From these challenges, RingCentral understood that they needed a purpose built referral program software that specialized in referral marketing instead of general customer advocacy.  After looking at different referral platforms they settled on Amplifinity for its targeted solution.

Why this referral program continues to excel:

  • Sales can enter verbal referrals
  • Sales can check the status of referrals in their own platform
  • No breakage
  • Easily update creative with no IT needed
  • Easy reporting showing direct ROI
  • Advocate homepage with real time transparency into their referral status
  • Operational resources reallocated from maintenance to program improvement and growth
  • Customers and reps like it
  • Easy to use
  • Easily add and change promotions
  • Can dive deep into the data of the program
  • Thorough validation of Advocates’ email
  • Eliminates the possibility of Friendly Fraud

By going through three variations of programs, RingCentral learned what features are necessary for a referral marketing program to optimize resources and deliver the most ROI to a business.

Bottom line – RingCentral used their previous referral challenges to understand what they needed in a referral program and take full advantage of the amazing lead generation referral marketing provides.



Overcome the complexity of B2B Telecom sales with a 1-1 personalized referral program

In the mid-1800s, the avant-garde movement started in an attempt to push the boundaries of the status quo. This concept was taken up by artist, writers, musicians, and in recent years, many businesses, which has fueled new and creative innovation, like a referral program.  Avant-garde is still extremely relevant today and some might say a necessary part of business, especially in the B2B Telecommunication industry.  B2B Telecoms have been forced to take on tremendous change.  With the development of SaaS products, Telecoms have been able to provide a more agile application and offer a wider variety of solutions to SMBs. But because of this, the market has become extremely saturated. And to add onto that, traditional lead generation channels are decreasing in effectiveness which has forced Telecom businesses to change the way they go about customer acquisition.

Along with trying to find new, non-traditional ways to generate leads, Telecoms are also faced with the challenge of having their lead generation tactics reflect their move away from a transactional business model to a relationship-oriented selling approach. But even after a Telecom is able to acquire a high-quality lead, the complexity of the B2B sales process presents its own challenges including:

  • A long sales pipeline
  • Demonstrating value

While these challenges can be daunting, many Telecoms have been able to transcend them by creating an innovative, automated referral program integrated with sales technology.

3 referral program software solutions for Telecoms

1. Find high-quality leads organically

Google has grown into somewhat of a monster. With the recent volatility Google search has been having and the decrease in effectiveness of PPC, it has never been harder to get found digitally. Of course, that doesn’t mean many companies aren’t doing a great job riding the Google waves, but generating greater numbers of quality organic leads requires a greater and more diverse strategy. This is especially true when competing against the climbing number of B2B Telecoms. Referral programs have proven to not only resonate with the relationship-focused selling of Telecoms, but the target customers as well. In fact, after 3 years a very well-known Telecom not only had their referral program accounting for 20% of all new customers, but a 17% higher LTV than non-referred customers. And just in the last year, a relationship-focused B2B Telecom had 43% conversion rate from referrals to customers. These numbers alone are amazing, but factor in that in 2016 the paid search average conversion rate decreased to 2.70% according to a WordStream benchmark report,  and you have referral programs taking lead generation to a whole new level.

Referral programs accomplish this by creating a personalized 1-1 connection between the business and the referral by having the customer advocate facilitate a trusted introduction through attributable, online, offline, and verbal referrals. Referral programs automatically reward customers when a referral is successful to show appreciation for the time and effort a customer puts into making the referral and working with a salesperson to qualify the referral. This way, a customer is more motivated to refer multiple times because they understand that their efforts are appreciated.

On its own, a referral lead is a much higher quality lead since it is brought in by a customer who knows your product, the need of the referral, and the value you can offer. But by adding referral software that enables sales, Telecoms can not only automate the referral process but speed up the sales pipeline.

2. Speed up the long sales pipeline

In a recent eBook, How to Climb to Smarketing Success, Bob Peterson, Senior Research Director, pointed out that, “Customer advocacy can support demand generation by increasing the velocity of identified deals. Referral deals move faster through the pipeline.”

Each step of the sales pipeline in B2B Telecoms is arduous. Between challenges like having other competitors in the buying process, custom configurations and reaching the decision maker, a lead can take much longer to make it down the pipeline. A referral program help surpass the complexity of Telecom sales process as a result of:

  • Leads that come from referrals often drastically reduce competition since they already trust that the solution will fit their needs because it has been recommended by someone they trust, who has experienced its value.
  • Referrals often come in with a higher level of knowledge surrounding the business. This means that they don’t need to be sold as much.
  • Since the customer advocate knows the referral’s pain, when sales talks to the advocate to qualify the referral they will be able to understand if their needs are too custom or unaligned with their product or service offerings.
  • The referral is more often one of the decisionmakers so sales doesn’t take up as much time trying to climb an organizations ladder.

3. Demonstrate value to prospects

When selling complex products or services, communicating the value directly is not enough to drive a lead to buy. Along with B2B customers needing to be completely sure that the product will deliver as advertised, they also have a variety of different priorities that they want you product or service to accommodate.

Referral advocates have already had time with your product and can clearly prove the added value of a service or product. Even if a customer has had a bumpy road integrating your product at first, communicating the ups and downs to referrals can be beneficial. No product or service is perfect all the time, and knowing that a company is willing to go above and beyond to take care of their customers is a plus for decision makers.

But since Telecoms cater to a wide variety of customers that can have substantially different needs, understanding how to go about displaying value can also be a challenge. In an automated referral program, sales has the advocate details and the referral details at their fingertips. When reaching out to the advocate to qualify the referral they can get the details about what the referral is looking for and their business needs in order to focus on the specific needs of the lead from first contact. This way a company can communicate that they have a deep understanding of a customer’s pain and the solution to that pain.

How RingCentral and Cable One Business use referral programs

RingCentral has seen the remarkable value of referral program software for sales. RingCentral had three iterations of a referral program. The first two were manual which gave them insight into the potential for a referral program to become a top lead generation initiative but had too many challenges, including referral to advocate and reward to advocate attribution breakage. Upon implementation of an automated referral program, RingCentral has been able to provide sales the ability to:

  • Enter trackable verbal referrals.
  • Let sales check the status of a referral in their own platform.
  • Qualify referral leads through their advocates.
  • Reallocate resources that were used on their previous manual program to focus on program growth.

As for Cable One Business, they have many different B2B referral programs for each of their different advocate groups. Two specific B2B referral programs that have been highly successful, targets salespeople and customers. Cable One’s salespeople are a large part of their program and the ability for them to submit referrals was necessary for their success. Rewarding was an important functionality to Cable One Business since they reward their salespeople and customers in different ways within the different programs. Cable One offers two rewards to their salespeople:

  1. Points for each successful referral that can be used in a store similar to Amazon.
  2. Money added to their paycheck that is 1X the customer’s first monthly bill.

Both of these reward methods motivate salespeople to continue to nurture advocates and referrals.

For their customers, they offer something similar. Once a referral is successful they assign bill credits equal to the first month’s payment of the new customer.

The technology requirements for each program were different. The ability to integrate these programs with different parts of Cable One Business, including their CRM, is what contributed to the success of these programs.

Do you want to discover how your Telecom could benefit from a referral program like Cable One Business and RingCentral? Try the ROI calculator now!


Digital humanism takes on its most exceptional form in referral tracking programs

From digital machinism to digital humanism with referral tracking programs

Marketing best practices are constantly evolving. But not long ago, technology did what we always swore it would do – it took over . . . marketing communications that is. More specifically, an extreme form of automated communication became a highly adopted manner of outreach to prospects for B2Bs. In fact, it was so heavily adopted that personalization and human relationships were almost completely discounted (as opposed to referral tracking programs). This included prospecting in the form of automated calls and emails that aren’t personalized.

Gartner views this as digital machinism and in the blog, Embracing Digital Humanism, they define it as, “A view that sees the minimization of human involvement through automation as the central focus of technology.”

While digital machinism is beneficial to some extent, unsurprisingly, many potential customers felt a disconnect when businesses implemented a fully automated form of communication. And with the large amount of genericized marketing noise assaulting them they soon started to block it all out with spam filters and Adblock. Recently, there has even been the development of the Jolly Roger Telephone – an automated system that that screens both human and robot telemarketers to prevent them from reaching you and wastes their time by keeping them on the phone.

But while, “We must recognize the profound impact digital technology is having in the work, the way we shop, the way we interact, the way we live,” said Brian Prentice, Research Vice President at Gartner. “Businesses should seek to understand how our shared humanity can define the systems they create and control.” This is where digital humanism comes in.

Digital humanism is defined as technology that’s main focus is on people. Digital humanism adds amazing power to technology by enabling people to play a greater role in its success while consistently increasing the benefits it can deliver by emphasizing human connections and relationship building. Referral tracking software is the epitome of digital humanism, taking relationship building and customer engagement to the next level.

Grow your ROI by giving power to the people with referral program software

The best practices for marketing have come back around to personalization and a relationship focused sales approach but still emphasizes the power of automation for B2Bs.

Powerful relationships are at a referral program’s core. Referral tracking software harnesses the persuasive power of your customer, partner and employee’s peer relationships and incentivizes them to warmly introduction your brand through trackable social sharing, email, personalized URL, or offline referrals. Within referral tracking software, companies that have advanced automation gain additional value by being able to empower these relationships with intelligent insight, including:

  • Referral tracking
  • Advocate referral data
  • Advocate nurture emails
  • Automatic transfers of referral data to your CRM
  • Advocate’s personalized portal to view their referral data and status

Automation takes on a human aspect in referral tracking programs by functioning as a mechanism for further personalization, insight into customers, engagement by advocates and optimized management of the referral program to enable ease of use for admins.

Adoption of technology that harvests and nurtures relationships is key to current and future success.  Through the avenue of referral tracking programs within digital humanism, businesses are able to take advantage of the fact that:

  • Customers are 400% more likely to buy a product recommended by someone they know. (Nielsen)

Driving more companies like DIRECTV and ADP to adopt referral tracking programs with:

  • Leads generated from referrals convert 4X better than marketing leads. (emarketer)
  • The LTV of customers is 16% higher than that of non-referred customers. (Harvard Business Review)
  • Referred customers churning 18% less than non-referred customers. (Harvard Business Review)
  • A conversion rate of 35% from referral to purchase. (Amplifinity)

Discover if a referral tracking program is the right channel for you to start embracing digital humanism and capture unparalleled ROI by taking the quiz, Are referrals a fit?


ROI Calculator

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How B2C referral strategies enhance B2B referral programs

Why B2B businesses should incorporate B2C referral strategies

It has been widely recognized that referral software is highly beneficial for stimulating strong revenue growth. But a successful referral program doesn’t just happen. It needs to have a dynamic promotional strategy.

Most of us will remember hearing versions of George Berkeley’s philosophical question even if we didn’t know it was him who originally conceived the notion: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? In 1710, the original question appeared in his work, Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, and unintentionally and unexpectedly it applies to referral strategies today.

Berkeley’s conclusion was that, “The object of sense exist only when they are perceived; the tree therefore are in the garden . . . no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them.”

In context, even if you have the best referral program, without the right promotional strategy that allows constant and increased perception it essentially doesn’t exist. After all, if advocates don’t know about your program there will be little to no participation, and soon enough your program really will cease to exist.

But understandably, it may be difficult for B2B business to kick off the right promotional strategy for their referral program. This is based off the idea that multi-channel advertisements and promotional strategies that drive immediate action are not as much a natural part of many B2B’s overall business model. The majority of always on advertisements, special offers, and promotions having largely been a B2C game because of their shorter or immediate sales cycle.

So instead of thinking along the lines of regular B2B promotions for your referral program, try taking a page from a B2C business. DIRECTV is one such business that has rocked the promotion of their referral program which has resulted in the utmost success.

DIRECTV’s referral strategies

DIRECTV has created an extremely successful promotional campaign for their referral program. This success stems from the fact that their referral program promotion campaign came as a natural extension of their current promotional strategies. DIRECTV employed an entertaining and engaging promotional strategy that aligns with standard practices for a B2C. But that doesn’t exclude it from being extraordinarily beneficial for B2B referral promotions.

Through the use of multiple channels and an always on approach, DIRECTV created awareness of their referral program with the majority of their customers knowing the benefits of referring their friends and how to do so. By taking a similar approach to referral promotions a B2B referral program can garner the same kind of success that DIRECTV has been able to accomplish. The channels DIRECTV used to build awareness are:

Video – DIRECTV created a variety of short commercials that were built around humor and entertainment but communicated how to refer your friends and the benefits clearly. These commercials engaged customers and their entertainment value improved how viral their videos became. For B2B businesses these videos can be posted on social media, the homepage, the account page, and on any online communities.

DIRECTV Refer a Friend IMAGE 1

DIRECTV Refer a Friend IMAGE 2

Special Offers – DIRECTV continues to create renewed special offers that reengage their customer base and continue to motivate referrals from their advocates. For a B2B, these special offers can be sent in the mail, by email, posted on social media, or posted on an online community. This will not only drive continued engagement by advocates, but help recruit new advocates by offering an incentive that is too good to pass up.

Referral Rewards

Website and Account Promotion – Together with DIRECTV’s other offers, homepage and account referral promotions help to increases their referral program awareness. This strategy can be applied to B2B business to ensure that each interaction with your brand encourages engagement in the referral program.

DIRECTV is Amplifinity's customer

Regular Email  – Regular email are advantageous by reminding customers of a way to reduce their bills when they receive it. For B2B businesses, email is already a part of the promotional strategy. Try to include referral promotions in the footer of regular subscription emails along with creating dedicated promotional referral emails.

Learn more about what it takes to develop a winning referral promotional strategy by downloading the free e-book, 8 steps to Initiating the Right Launch Sequence for your Referral program.

launching a referral program

Photo Credit: DIRECTV

Originally published on Customer Think

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Tried and true referral program ideas to outgrow your competition

Competition is a natural obstacle for any industry, but it also can facilitate inspired innovation (like referral program ideas) and help develop your most successful initiatives. However, outgrowing your competition requires a strategy. In its simplest form, consider how trees handle their natural competition.

“Trees have different strategies to deal with competing neighbors. Some grow quickly and tall, overshadowing the others, but die young. Others grow more slowly, but outlive the fast growing ones and cast shade on them over a longer period,” says Nickaus Zimmermann from the Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL.

Both these strategies have their cons. But by combining the right referral program ideas companies are able to harness the high velocity growth of the first strategy and combine it with the long life of the second strategy to obtain to a solid foundation for revenue generation.

To distinguish a referral strategy that will provide you with inspired and constant growth, let’s explore some tried and true referral program ideas. Jump to the section you’re interested in or read through to get the whole picture.

5 referral program ideas from companies who have succeeded


Referral program ideas #1: Have your referral program enable key departments

A main component of referral program success is making sure that sales and customer success/service is enabled and has the tools to support the referral program.

Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity referral software, notes that “The companies that have tremendous success in launching a referral program are those that include the people in your organization (sales and customer service/success) that already have personal relationships with your designated advocates in the launch. If those people have the ability to directly reach out and invite perspective advocates to the referral program, then that program has a much higher rate of success.”

In RingCentral’s experience, integration with a CRM was a must for sales. The collaboration needed between sales and marketing means that the two way communication between marketing and sales software is crucial for creating a seamless referral lead flow. This allows sales to reach out to customers they already are engaged with and personally invite them to the program. In addition, verbal referrals allowed the RingCentral sales team to create a constant flow of trackable referral leads while adapting to customers’ preferred referral method.

For ADP, sales ownership of customer advocates and their referrals helped increase sales participation. By having the referral lead gets routed to the advocate’s sales rep instead of the normal lead routing rules, it benefits both the advocate and the sales rep. This is because:

  • The customer advocate want to refer their friend or peer to the sales rep they have built a relationship with so that they know their referral will be as well taken care of as they are.
  • Lead routing or lead ownership incentivizes sales to better foster relationships with customers. increase customer participation in the program and nurture referrals. This is based off the knowledge that when their advocate refers someone they stand to gain a commission from that referral.


    • Look for a system that has the flexibility to enable sales to drive participation in the referral program.
    • Ensure that your referral program can adapt to your advocates preferred referral method.
    • Implement referral lead routing/ownership within your referral program to increase advocate engagement and incentivize sales to take better care of advocates and referrals.

Referral program ideas #2: Design authentic and engaging referral promotions

An important element of promotions is making sure the promotions speak to your advocate group and are a consistent representation of your current branding. DIRECTV has experienced a very high rate of referral success from their promotions. This is due to their creative referral marketing ideas executed through video and website promotions that catch customers’ attention with raunchy humor. This type of promotion aligns with DIRECTV’s overall branding.

On the other hand, TSYS uses their video to increase awareness. Through a clear and concise message they explained the benefits of their referral program and how to use it. This video avoids any humorous themes and instead quickly explains to advocates the advantages of referring. The minimal animation and quirky music keeps the promotion light and informative without going off brand.


  • If humor is not part of your current brand guidelines, don’t try to include it in your referral program. Keep your promotions authentic.
  • You can always try to be lighthearted instead of comical.
  • Identify promotional channels that have worked in the past and use them to gain traction.
  • Have the promotions emphasize the benefits of referring to your advocate group.

Referral program ideas #3: Incentivize and empower sales to drive marketing promotions

The most important part of a referral program promotional strategy is keeping the program at the forefront of customer or partners’ minds. Any company that chooses to go the launch it and leave it route will not have success in generating referrals. One of the keys to keeping your referral program at the top of mind for customers and partners is getting sales to drive promotions.

For instance, Cable ONE Business has successful made their sales team a part of marketing’s referral program promotional strategy. They have done this by:

  • Creating marketing collateral in the form of hardcopy brochures for all sales reps to hand out to partners so upon talking to their partners they had something tangible to give to them.
  • Having marketing design program specific branding for the referral promotions which were put up around the office to drive sales reps’ promotional engagement.
  • Creating a rewards program that awards sales reps points for referrals which can then be used on an online store similar to amazon.
  • Rewarding successful sales referrals by giving sales associates 1x that of the referral customer’s first bill.
  • Creating a separate bathroom campaign where fliers where put up in all the stalls with what they referred to as ‘cheesy pickup lines’ that sales could use to engage customers.
  • Implementing a special offer for sales to earn up to $4,000 during a specific time period by hitting revenue goals with one requirement being they submit at least 4 referrals
  • Creating a relationship approach for sales that included conference calls and home visits to explain the program which ended up quadrupled referrals. This referral program ideas delivered what had been a month’s worth of referrals in one week.

RingCentral was another business that found success in using their sales team to promote referral marketing collateral. RingCentral’s marketing team created a special offer in the form of a raffle that advertised to their customers that for every referral submitted during a three month period a customer would have another entry put into the raffle to win one of two drones. This worked to increase advocate enrollment and referrals.

RincCentral referral program ideas special offer


  • Special offers to sales helps re-invigorate sales participation.
  • A relationship-oriented approach supported by marketing where there is a 1-1 interaction has greater success.
  • Incentivizing sales is as important as incentivizing advocates.
  • Create special offers that sales can promote to customers.

Referral program ideas #4: Research your competition

Study what competitors in their space are doing. The success of referral marketing ideas is many times not as generalized as one might think and it can be specific to an industry. Often you’re not the first to try referral marketing. A competitor’s past inspiration and execution of their referral program ideas can help guide you in your own development.

For instance, Citrix researched how their competition was incentivizing their referral program and that is how they landed on offering 20% of the annual value of the deal.


  • Look into referral strategies that have and haven’t worked in your industry.
  • If you are the first one in your space initiating a referral program, evaluate your customer base and mold your referral program to fit their customer journey and expectations.

Referral program ideas #5: Create a structured referral incentive

When deciding on a reward to increase referral leads, many companies originally try to go what they consider the inexpensive route by offering swag. While this will get a bit more participation, most business professionals have branded coffee mugs falling out of the kitchen cabinets. With this strategy, you’re looking at a one-time referral at best. Meaning, a customer doesn’t want your branded blanket and backpack and coffee mug (No hard feelings).

ADP has had tremendous success from their referral incentive program. Upon analysis, ADP determined their likely average number of successful referrals per customers per year was a little over one. Based on this they implemented an escalating reward structure that offered a $100 credit for each of the first three referrals, with the fourth offering the highly prized free payroll for a year. This worked as intended, making the average successful referral per advocate rise significantly. The escalating forth referral incentive acknowledges the extra effort the advocate has to put in to get the fourth referral and provides them with a reward that would be highly valuable to their group of advocates.


  • Evaluate the likely number of successful referrals/advocate and create escalating rewards to motivate advocates to take the extra effort.
  • Remember that not all rewards have to be a form of cash. Charitable donation or training credits can also be valuable to certain advocates.
  • If you have multiple types of rewards you want to try considering adding reward choice to your referral development so every potential advocate can gain value from the referral program.

To get more detailed referral marketing ideas, explore additional referral marketing resources to help spark your imagination and build your referral program.

Resources with link to to resource page with referral program ideas