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:
- Points for each successful referral that can be used in a store similar to Amazon.
- 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!