How Marketing Can Motivate Sales (and vice versa)

We’ve all heard about the importance of sales and marketing alignment. It makes for a better business, it grows revenue, and overall it makes everyone happier.

But what does sales and marketing alignment have to do with a referral strategy? A lot, as it turns out.

It’s no secret that referral programs perform better when sales gets involved. Statistics show that, with sales involvement, leads convert to deals ten percent more often in partner referral channels and seventeen percent more often in customer referral channels. When it comes to seeing actual results from a referral channel, sales involvement is key.

But the impact of strong marketing on a referral channel can’t be ignored, either. You do, in fact, need both of these teams to be working at the top of their game in order to get results. And how do you get them working their best?

You get them working together.

Getting Sales Involved in Referrals

Engaging sales in a referral channel sounds easy on the surface. But there are actually a few ways that you can go about it, and figuring out what is the best for your channel will take some strategic thinking.

The first step is to figure out if you’re involving direct or indirect sales. This will help you get an idea of the general shape of your program.

Then, there are a few options. One is to take a direct to individuals approach, which is where an individual such as a customer, influencer, small agent, small business or employee would refer business directly to you. Another is a to-and-through strategic alliance, where you make an alliance with a company that enables their employees to refer business to you. There is also the to-and-through partner network, which is where managed partners can enable their employees to make referrals.

Whatever you choose, your sales team should be part of the equation. They will be the ones helping you recruit and keep customers, alliances, and partners referring.

But it isn’t enough to just tell your sales team about your channel. You need to get them excited about it, too. And a big part of doing that is promoting your referral program — marketing it, in other words. And this is where your marketing team comes in.

Getting Marketing Involved

When many people hear the words “referral” and “marketing” together, they don’t think of involving promotional teams. They think of referrals as a type of marketing, which is perfectly true! But many don’t understand just how entwined a referral channel and a marketing team is.

Referrals can fit into just about any partner channel marketers are actively using. That means, no matter what, your marketing team will be a part of your channel. Instead of having this deter sales from getting involved, you should use it to your advantage.

Promoting your referral program is an important part of a channel’s success, and it doesn’t end one or two or ten days after you start the program. It should, in fact, continue to go throughout the life of your channel.

And just as you’re promoting to partners and customers, you need to be promoting to sales, too. Remind them of why they’re doing what they’re doing, and make sure you’re promoting your successes to them, as well! The more they can see the positive effect that the referral channel is having, the more they’ll be able to be involved in it.

This will cause a positive feedback loop, where marketing will have more positive things to say, which will bolster sales even further. And that will make your referral channel more effective than ever.

Get Inspired! Promote Your Referral Program like These Brands

Promoting a referral strategy is a daunting task. It helps to have a plan for every phase of your referral program’s life, but that can be difficult to put together when you don’t have any concept of where to start.

That’s why we gathered some of the most exciting referral program marketing techniques. We’re breaking down how these brands did them, and how you can apply them to your own B2B business.

Tesla

Tesla is known for its innovation, and its referral program is no different. Making the most of its excited and incredibly loyal fanbase, it created a referral program that saw over 40x ROI!

What can other businesses learn from Tesla’s referral program marketing?

  1. Cultivate loyalty. This is the driving force behind Tesla’s success. Tesla fans are incredibly loyal, with most of them willing to evangelize the cars for free. Almost all of Tesla’s success comes from word of mouth.
  2. Offer incentives your customers — and partners — want. Tesla calculated their incentives carefully and made sure that they were giving their customers what they actually wanted. You should be doing the same thing — calculate incentives based on your audience.
  3. Stay top of mind. Elon Musk is still generating headlines everywhere he goes, which means that customers have no opportunity to forget him or his business. While you probably won’t want to take that route, regular communication with your partners can achieve the same effect.

Rothy

Rothy takes a smart approach to referral programs by using post-purchase pop-ups to encourage referrals from happy customers. While this is a reasonable way to approach B2C referral marketing, many B2B companies might find it difficult or pointless to implement.

This does not mean that B2B companies should ignore these tactics altogether, however. Here are just some things that can be learned:

  1. Ask for referrals at the right time. Timing is key for referrals. Asking for them when your customer or partner is happy with you and ready to sell you to someone else is far more effective.
  2. Make your partners happy. Even if you aren’t necessarily trying to sell your partners on your product or service, you should still be making them happy and excited to be a part of your channel.
  3. Be direct but simple. Pop-ups are attention-grabbing. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to have the customer or partner’s attention forever. Notice that Rothy kept their message short and sweet — and you should, too.

Huckberry

Companies like Huckberry have had great success with referral contests — offering special prizes to whoever brings in the most referrals in a set amount of time. Huckberry used a lot of the tactics that we already discussed: short, effective messaging and powerful incentives. But they also had something more.

What can your business learn from this?

  1. Make referring fun. A little friendly competition makes participating in a referral program feel less like a chore and more like a game. This will make referring for you more memorable, and feed into your channel even after the campaign is over.
  2. Give things a deadline. Deadlines help add a sense of urgency to your referral channel. Instead of telling partners and customers to refer whenever is convenient, having a set, near date will prompt many into action.
  3. Be creative. While Huckberry offered a traditional cash prize, they had a little extra fun by offering bourbon along with. These tiny, humanizing touches will make your referral campaign more memorable and fun.

#Growthhacking: 5 Ways to Boost Your Lead Generation

How many of you have stuck to your New Year’s Resolutions? Many of us start the year with lofty goals for lead generation, but by the time Q2 ends, we become disillusioned with how much work is left to go. Maybe we don’t see the progress that we wanted, and we consider giving up entirely.

But all hope isn’t lost! Even if you didn’t see the lead gen growth that you wanted in the first or second quarters, there’s still plenty of time to meet and even exceed your goals.

Referrals are a great source of lead generation. In fact, they produce a higher quality of lead, with more of a focus on building connections as opposed to just cold calling. But even referral channels aren’t foolproof — you need to do them correctly if you want to see results. Here are five ways that you can supercharge your lead generation.

Know where you stand

How can you fix your lead generation if you don’t know what’s broken? It’s helpful to compare yourself against industry benchmarks to see how you stack up. As referenced in some of our annual benchmark reports, the kind of performance you can expect from referral partners is not the same kind of performance you can expect from customers. Make sure that you are comparing “like for like” when optimizing your program is key.. Once you do that, you can see where your programs exceed expectations and where there’s room for improvement.

Rethink where your leads are coming from

The quality of the lead is often determined by the source of the lead. This is why referrals are such a good option, but it goes even further than that. For example, a message on social media is an easy way to give a referral, but it isn’t always the most effective — only one percent of social media leads from customers convert, and nearly none from referral partners do. For example, social media is a great way to drive awareness through referral partners, but social generated leads tend to convert at a lower rate as compared to lead suggestion tools. Furthermore,verbal referrals are consistently the most successful. By empowering the right referrals sources with the right tools, you can greatly improve lead generation.

Engage your sales team

Sales involvement in a referral program is the secret ingredient to successful lead generation. In customer referral programs, lead quality increases 17 percent with sales involvement, and in partner referral programs it increases by 10 percent. Developing a formal sales engagement plan, then, might be beneficial to increasing the number of leads generated. Focus on making it easy for your sales team to get involved. This will help them actually get excited about providing referrals, which will increase leadgen!

Rethink your Incentives

Incentives encourage action. But there’s a big difference between an incentive that’s good, and one that either doesn’t produce the right results or isn’t cost effective enough to sustain itself. Calculating the right incentives is often the deciding factor in the success of your program.But when done correctly, great incentives will encourage repeat referrals, and can get more people generating leads than ever before.

Automate

All of these tips are great, but they often aren’t realistic for busy business owners. Who has time to be constantly tracking metrics, encouraging verbal referrals, engaging sales teams and handing out incentives? That’s why more people are turning to automated referral channels managed at scale. These are easy to adjust as needed, and they stay running without constant supervision! Best of all, they’re easy for partners and customers alike to use — ensuring that businesses see more lead generation, and more revenue growth.

Referral Partners: Your Secret Weapon Against Churn

In today’s world, customers have more choice than ever. This has completely changed the way that they approach shopping and brand loyalty. Because they know that they have choices, many will walk away without a second thought if they think they can get a better deal elsewhere. This is called “churn,” or turnover.

Many businesses are taking steps to either minimize or mitigate the damages that churn does to their bottom line. But many aren’t taking advantage of one of the most powerful weapons against churn that there is: referral partners.

Referral partners can completely change the way that you approach lead generation and customer relations in general. Here are just some of the ways that referral partner leads can help you decrease churn and improve your revenue growth.

Leads from Referral Partners Are More Qualified.

It’s just a fact that referral partner leads are one of the highest quality partner leads. This is especially true when referral partner programs facilitate one-on-one interactions, like verbal referrals. By doing this, businesses can ensure that the leads that they bring on are ready to buy and understand what they can do for them.

What does this sort of method do for churn? For one thing, it makes sure that you aren’t just bringing in a bunch of leads for the sake of it. Methods like cold calling have a high turnover rate because they bring in leads that would never even consider using your product or service, or maybe they aren’t even in the market for it. Referral partners only reach out to people who have a vested interest in what you do.

Perhaps even more impressively, verbal referrals put a face to your brand. This makes the relationship feel far more personal, and makes them more loyal. This can be the difference between losing a client and keeping them.

The Sales Cycle Goes Faster.

There are multiple statistics that prove that referral partners speed up the sales cycle. This means that leads are coming in faster, and because we’ve already proven that referral partner leads are more qualified, that means more of them are turning into deals faster.

This does wonders for the churn rate. Because even though referral partner leads are less likely to leave when given a verbal referral, some still will. By shortening the sales cycle and bringing more leads in faster, those leads that do leave will get replaced more quickly. This helps businesses ensure that they’re bringing in more leads than they’re losing.

In addition, because the sales cycle is shortened, sales people will have more time to spend on new leads. This improves morale and only continues to positively affect your bottom line.

Referral Partners Improve Customer Experience.

This is one of the more unexpected perks of a referral partner model. But a referral partner model can improve the customer experience by putting the company in charge of their journey. This allows them to meet client needs and expectations early, giving them an exceptional experience overall.

Customers are loyal to businesses that give them a positive experience. A referral partner model can help your business achieve this, especially if you have referral partners who give verbal referrals.

This works because it makes the experience personalized. Suddenly, prospects aren’t just numbers or pixels on a screen. They’re treated as people and their problems are treated as important. This really makes a difference for their overall experience.

Automation Makes Referral Partner Channels Easier to Manage.

Now, all of this probably sounds difficult. As a business owner, you probably don’t have the time or the budget to keep track of things like verbal referrals, or sales cycles. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage the power of referral partners to work for you.

Software like Amplifinity makes it easier than ever for your business to run, track and scale referral partner programs for increased revenue growth. By keeping all of these things running smoothly through automation, you can make sure that customers have a good experience, reducing churn and improving your bottom line.

Why a Referral Channel Isn’t the Same as Brand Advocacy

If you’ve just started to research a referral channel, you might be asking yourself, “Do I really need to automate a referral program? Our business already has fans that promote it on social media.” And while social media promotion from fans of the business are important to a business’s growth, this isn’t a referral channel. This is brand advocacy.

Now, brand advocacy is a great tool! This is organic, unexpected promotion, and it can be great for bringing in new leads. But it comes with its own set of challenges, and isn’t always the most sustainable way to bring in leads and grow revenue.

And that’s where a referral channel comes in.

Here are some of the key ways that a referral channel differs from brand advocacy, and why businesses should consider including an automated referral program into their lead generation strategy.

A Referral Channel is a Long-term Commitment.

While brand advocacy can encompass a fan who only tweets about your brand once, a referral partner or customer is someone who regularly interacts with your brand to give referrals.

That said, some referral partners are more active than others, and this is okay! Unlike other channel methods, a referral channel can be a great way to nurture your long tail partners and get the most out of their limited interaction.

How do you keep referral partners and customers active? Communication is a big part of it. Involving sales and special promotions are other ways to ensure maximum participation. Also, calculating the right incentives is an important part of keeping those in your referral channel engaged.

All of this can be very time-consuming, which is why automating your referral program is such a good option for so many businesses.

A Referral Channel is Scalable.

While brand advocacy is hard to grow past a small number of customers, a referral channel isn’t.

Referral channels can be scaled based on the needs of your business and referral partners. By keeping an eye on the right metrics, you can make sure that your business is growing at the rate that it needs to.

Scalability is another thing that automated referral channels can help with. By scaling your channel appropriately, you can make sure that your referral channel benefits your business, your partners, and your customers. This level of control simply doesn’t exist in brand advocacy.

A Referral Channel is “Always On.”

When managed right, a referral channel is a consistent source of leadgen and revenue. This is very different from brand advocacy, which can stop and start. A referral channel is managed by your business, which means you can keep track of how often referral partners and customers are generating leads and act accordingly.

Referral leads are, on average, more likely to convert to deals than other leads. This means that a referral channel can always be generating revenue for you on a consistent, trackable basis.
This is the main reason that businesses turn to a referral channel over other forms of lead generation, such as brand advocacy. And with software like Amplifinity, tracking the success of a referral channel is easier than ever.

Why You Should Consider A Referral Channel Strategy

We know marketers are always being pushed to find new ways to drive revenue growth and generate sales opportunities for their companies. One strategy you might not have considered, but should, is a referral channel strategy for your business. Read on for five reasons why creating a referral channel strategy can be a great option.

Referral marketing breaks through the noise

In today’s world, there is a ton of marketing noise. As people are shopping for products and services they are bombarded by advertising and information. One very effective way to break through that noise is getting a warm introduction to a prospective buyer from a trusted advisor. How can you do this effectively and at scale? Through a referral channel.

Scale with little overhead

Don’t have the budget for big marketing campaigns? That’s ok. Referral partner programs are a low cost way to scale your company’s partner output without adding additional resources to manage partner relationships. By utilizing a referral strategy with your existing partner channel, you can take low performing partners and turn them into high performing referral partners with little to no cost. In addition, a referral partner can have fewer barriers to success resulting in more people joining your partner program.

Leverage the partners traditionally on the sidelines

As mentioned above, referral programs are a great way to leverage existing partners that don’t fit the traditional reseller mold. By turning these partners into referral partners (versus reseller partners) you can drive value from an otherwise inactive group within your partner program.

Drive conversions

If you’re still on the fence about a referral channel strategy, consider this fact: referral leads from partners tend to convert at a very high rate of 31 percent lead-to-deal conversion versus an average lead.

Get demonstrable ROI

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a referral program can directly produce revenue for your company. Not only that, with proper tracking and automation through the use of referral software – like the kind offered by Amplifinity – you can easily demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of your referral program efforts.

If you would like to learn more about referral program best practices, and see how Amplifinity can help take your program to the next level visit www.amplifinity.com today!