Customer advocacy is the practice of leveraging your customers to endorse you and with the right tools it has become a very powerful source of lead generation for businesses. These endorsements can come in many different forms ranging from product reviews on third party sites, to sales references, to referring your product to someone in their network. Sales and marketing have been begging customers for these things for years but they haven’t been able to turn it into a significant lead generation resource.

Now there is software available that allows you to get customers advocating at scale, software for getting content and software that drives referrals and they are working. SiriusDecisions recently highlighted some customer advocacy programs that are impacting revenue in this presentation. It isn’t just influenced revenue. ADP stated that customer advocacy via referrals is their top source of leads that turn into revenue.

But with the onset of customer advocacy adoption and companies realizing the value of it, it’s  highlighting a big problem with reseller partnerships. Specifically, with reseller partnerships you get revenue, but don’t have any relationship with the end users of your product. They aren’t your customers, they are the Customers of your reseller.

These customers may be some of the best and happiest users of your product, but they have no relationship with you so they can’t be leveraged for customer advocacy. If you don’t own the relationship, you can’t control it.

This is one of the reasons why companies are moving away from reseller partners and transitioning toward Referral Partners.

How to leverage referral partnerships with customer advocacy

Referral partnerships benefit both the partner and brand/customer marketer. With referral partnerships you can still leverage the value of your partner network, while keeping the customer relationship direct. The way this works is that your partners act as a trusted adviser to your target buyer. They can recommend your product to them and can get compensated for that recommendation if they end up buying your product. This generates a high quality lead in your sales pipeline that gets sold by your sales team.

And now there is software that can manage the complexity of that relationship from delivering the referral experience and tracking that referral, rewarding and fulfillment process with variations as needed by partner. Relative to resellers, this drives incredible value for Partner Marketers, Sales, your Partners and your Buyers.

Partner marketers can drive incredible value from your partner network while making your brand and customer marketers BFFs. By transitioning to referral partnerships, you are extending their pool of potential advocates that can take actions to make referrals and endorsements. And this of course, drives more revenue.

As customer advocacy becomes a more common and expected part of the lead generation and buying experience, I predict that companies will find it difficult to justify their investment in reseller partnerships.

Justify your investment in customer advocacy by trying out the ROI calculator to discover the ROI you can achieve with a referral program.

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