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.