Tips For Getting Your Sales Team Excited About Referrals

Your sales department is key to the success of your referral program, so it’s important to get them involved early and often. Here are some tips you can use to get your sales team excited about, and asking for, referrals.

Promote your referral program

To start, you need to promote your referral program to sales the same way that you are promoting the referral program to your partners and customers. Why? Because the more they know about the program, the more likely they are to be actively engaged in it. You can promote your program a few different ways:

  • Create an email blast – You can send email blasts to your sales team educating them on the program, and emphasizing the value of referrals.
  • Brand your program – By giving your program an internal brand, with a specific look and feel, you make it easily recognizable to the sales team.
  • Invest in promotional materials – Hang up flyers and banners in the office. Include details about the referral program to create awareness and understanding. You can even put flyers in common areas, like the company kitchen or bathrooms, that teach sales how to start asking for referrals. If you have the budget, you can also get t-shirts or mugs for the sales team. Make referrals an exciting initiative for the entire company!
  • Create a program owner – In all your promo materials, emails and flyers you should clearly identify who owns the program, along with contact information, so that anyone with questions, comments or concerns knows who to go to.

Structure your referral program to incentivize sales

By structuring your program in a way that enables advocate ownership, your sales team can override the normal lead routing rules. This makes it so any referrals that come from the advocates owned by a specific salesperson go to that salesperson instead of the regular routing rules. We find this type of referral functionality motivates sales to invite and nurture customers to become engaged advocates while working their referrals. This also helps motivate sales to meet quotas and get their commission.

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

You can promote and incentivize your sales team all you want, but if it isn’t easy to see advocate and referral data, and recruit and nurture customers, sales won’t put the effort in. Your referral program shouldn’t add unnecessary work for your sales team. That’s why having the referral program data and functionality integrated into the sales CRM is critical. Functionality and data you should have includes:

  • The 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.
  • The ability to input trackable verbal referrals for both registered and unregistered advocates.
  • See lead source as a referral.

For more referral program management tips and tricks, check out the resources section of www.amplifinity.com.

Four Ways Amplifinity Can Improve Your Existing Referral Program

So you have an existing referral program, but are you getting the most value from those referrals using your current system? Chances are, you aren’t. That’s why referral automation software like Amplifinity exists. Not only does the software provide a number of workflow benefits, but it can improve your work life and your bottom line – making everyone happy. Don’t believe me? Here are four ways Amplifinity can improve your existing referral program.

A User Experience That Promotes Activity

Do you want to keep your referral sources engaged and active? Amplifinity not only provides a simplified sign up process, but better sharing tools (i.e. social posts, personal URLs and suggest a lead functionality), more account and activity visibility for those making referrals, and the ability to personalize the experience for your advocate or partner. What does this all mean for you? A better overall experience for your referral sources making them happier, more productive and more likely to remain active in making referrals.

Automated Tracking

One of the most common reasons we see referral programs fail is because referrals are being tracked manually. If you are doing this with your existing program, you know how difficult it can be to keep up with the current status of a referral and making sure the right people get paid when the lead closes. Using a software like Amplifinity gives you an automated system that is tracking every status of a referral to close, then to reward and then to payment – vastly improving your program’s success. Automating the entire process will also make your life better, as you no longer need to track every step in your spreadsheet. This will also make your referral sources happier, as automation will eliminate some of the inevitable oversights that happen in a manual process.

Better Reward Payment Configurations Options

As the person in charge of your company’s referral program, you know that finding the “sweet spot” for the reward amount is essential to getting the most out of your partners and customers. You also know that reward payment failures or delays are the quickest ways to lose an active member of your program. Having a software that allows you to configure a reward amount that makes sense for your referral source, and the ability to personalize the reward if needed, is key. A software like Amplifinity can also give you the tools needed to easily troubleshoot any issue that arises, as well as the confidence that a payment will make it to your partner or advocate as intended.

Tighter Integration With Your Existing Sales Deal Flow

The last thing you want to do when trying to automate your program is to re-engineer your entire sales workflow to fit your software purchase. Instead, you should find a tool that both automates the referral process and fits into your existing sales workflow. Whether it’s having a solution for the automation of offline referrals, as Amplifinity offers with verbal referrals, or making sure you can easily map referral tracking to the important steps in the sales process – having a platform that works with the way your sales team works is paramount to driving success.

If you’d like to learn more about Amplifinity and how our software can help you scale and grow your referral program, visit www.amplifinity.com and request a demo today.

How referral partner programs outperform resellers

The success of partner programs in B2B companies is highly variable. Many companies try various approaches, but what starts as a promising opportunity, often ends in unmet expectations from both companies in the partnership.

After all, the idea of extending lead generation reach and sales coverage without adding headcount is appealing. And although partnering is a great model in concept, the execution is very difficult. The reality is that you are constantly trying to train and onboard Partners in order to make sure that they understand the differentiated messaging and sales techniques necessary to effectively sell your product. In addition, servicing the relationship post sale introduces an entirely different set of challenges such as how to nurture customer relationships to deliver a continued revenue stream.

Putting it all together is  an extremely big task and one that takes a significant amount of resources to achieve success. But thanks to new referral marketing technology entering the market, we are starting to see a shift in partner strategy. Specifically, partnerships based on referrals are starting to show incredible success and are challenging the traditional mindset of resale oriented partnering.

Resale = high investment with uncertain return

With reseller partnerships you are faced with the development of detailed contracts that cover all aspects of a complex relationship. But, that’s just the beginning. Once the partnership execution begins, you’re faced with the task of onboarding and training the Partner’s marketing and sales teams and the difficult task of maintaining mind-share as other priorities of the Partner inevitably surface.

Success requires the same time and budget as direct selling efforts, but often with worse results. Why? Because Reseller Partners don’t see your product as the primary way to achieve quota. They aren’t looking for opportunities for your product. Instead, your product is simply an afterthought until an obvious need is exposed by their Customer.

Also, consider the end Customer‘s perspective. Do they have to go through the Partner as a middleman to get support? Are they getting the same care and nurturing as your direct-sale Customers? When the time comes, will they be an Advocate for your business and provide the word-of-mouth recommendations that are so vital to the success of your business? The answer is probably not.

Referral partner programs have challenges too

Referral partnerships have existed for centuries. With this model, instead of a full reseller arrangement, you use Partners primarily as a way to extend lead generation. As Partners come across situations where a need for your product is identified, they refer the lead to you. Your team then engages in the relationship, takes the driver seat on the sales process and ultimately, makes the sale. This fixes a few key issues with the reseller model. You now have a much simpler contract (if any) and you don’t need to deeply train the Partner on how to sell your product or service

However, a few problems remain with referral partner programs and a few new ones arise as a result.

First, you still need to have a way to stay top of mind with your Partners. You also need to make sure you have a simple way to track, incentivize and manage this relationship. For example, how does the Partner stay informed of the status of the referral so they can help the opportunity progress?

And, relative to incentives, will you pay the Partner per lead or when a sale closes? If it is only when a sale closes, how do you trigger the event so that you can fulfill the reward and ensure the partner get’s compensated quickly and correctly?

The reality is that much of this is done manually and that limits the output of a Referral Partner.  While Referral Partners can produce great in-market leads they are difficult to scale.

Because both models have strengths and weaknesses, I see companies trying to do a bit of everything, with limited success.

The rise of referral partner programs managed at scale

The advent of software to manage referrals has tipped the scale strongly in favor of referral partnerships. With the ever increasing pressure to generate ROI from your partnership efforts, my advice is to get there and get there fast.

Here is my take on how automated referral partner programs can benefit all parties involved while being a consistent generator of high quality leads.

Benefits of automated referral partner programs to your company

  1. Quality leads: This one is pretty obvious. You already know that referrals from Partners are great leads, but with referral marketing software you get a consistent flow at a larger scale than ever before. In fact in a recent benchmark study 31% of referral leads from partners made a purchase. This number increased to 41% when sales was involved in the referral process.

referral partners, referral marketing, what are referral partners conversion rate?

 2. Shorter sales cycles: It’s a proven fact, referral deals move faster through the pipeline. It isn’t just that they are higher quality. Your sales team also has access to the Partner who made the referral so they can prequalify the opportunity and enlist their help in making the sale.

Improved customer experience: From first contact with your product through the entire customer journey, you are now in the driver’s seat to achieve customer success. This makes for a great customer experience, but it also means that your customers can be leveraged later to give you positive mentions in social media and refer your product to their peers. And that means more high quality leads.

4. Cost savings: With automation comes significant cost savings. In this model, you can scale the number of Referral Partners without adding headcount because everything from operational management, to nurturing communications, through to reward fulfillment is automated. Additionally, you no longer have the resource-intensive training nor the co-marketing costs from the Reseller Partner model.

5. Better data: With all of your referral partner programs activity managed with referral marketing software and integration into your sales CRM (e.g Salesforce), it is easy to see direct ROI from Referral Partners and prove the incredible value of the channel.

Benefits of automated referral partner programs to your Partners

  1. Added revenue/income: Depending upon whether you structure your program to reward the partner entity, the Partner Advocates (typically Sales Reps) or both, the outcome is the same. Your referral program provides an easy way to get rewarded for relationships they already have.
  2. No hassle: With nurture emails and a personal web page, Partners can see their referral activity and reward status. The result is that the Partner feels informed and views the relationship with your company as low friction. And when Partners have confidence in your system, they’ll refer more.
  3. Happy customers: Partners are able to easily extend their offering to your product or service to provide solutions that meet the Customer’s needs. And referral leads are the highest quality, so Partners know they will receive the proper attention and care during the buying process.

Benefits of automated referral partner programs to your sales team

  1. Fast leads: No one is more appreciative than Sales of referral leads. They can skip the emailing and calling to try to get a prospect. The Partner has all the information needed to get the opportunity generated and can even help Sales drive it through the pipe.
  2. No new systems: With all of the referral data in the sales CRM, Sales doesn’t have to learn a new system. With fast access to referral lead and Partner Advocate information in the system they use every day, they are more productive.
  3. Easy Partner management: What Sales doesn’t want is to have to track which Partner referred whom and fight for them to get paid. With all of this done for them, they can focus on what you want them to – selling!

Benefits of automated referral partner programs to your Customers

  1. Need resolved quickly: When a need is identified by the Partner, it can be resolved quickly with your product or solution without the Customer having to go through the hassle of blindly scouring the internet for the right product to buy. This saves them time and hassle.
  2. Work with a trusted advisor: Another reason referral leads move quickly through the pipeline is that the interest started with a recommendation from a trusted source (the Partner). Customers who get a recommendation from a trusted source are much more likely to buy.
  3. Great support: Since the entire customer relationship is managed by you, referred Customers get the same great support that you provide all of your Customers.

Turn your partner relationships into revenue

Because of the benefits to all parties, savvy Channel Managers are making a transition away from Resellers to referral partner programs managed with  software specifically made to handle these kinds of relationships. With a low cost automated system you can maintain or reduce  the cost of your channel team while simultaneously growing the direct revenue coming from the channel.

Discover how powerful referral marketing software could be for you with the ROI calculator (Warning: May cause your referral partner program to drive revenue at an extreme speed).

referral partner programs, referral network,

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.

 

CTA_ROI_calculator_v2

Why referral widgets fail to create long-term customer relationships

The referral-centric approach vs. the advocate-centric approach

Marketers and sales teams alike are focusing on finding new ways to break through the marketing noise. To accomplish this, business have discovered the importance of a relationship-focused sales approach that expands on customers good interactions by using an advocate-centric referral program as a primary strategy. But like any business practice there is more than one way to go about collecting referrals and recruiting advocates. The referral-centric approach (referral widgets) and the advocate-centric approach are two methods that prioritize different types of referral interactions.

The referral-centric approach emphasizes ease of use by having the program built around referral widgets to get a one-time referral from an essentially anonymous advocate. This approach is usually considered a fair option for an ecommerce company that wants to sell their products but doesn’t care who is buying them and are not interested in generating repeat referrals or sales from a customer.

The advocate-centric approach emphasizes the advocate experience and data from your advocate as the primary importance with a fully built referral program to support it. This approach is optimal for generating repeat referrals, building long term relationships, and increasing customer engagement and ROI.

In essence, a referral-centric approach vs. an advocate-centric approach is equivalent to the comparison between a one-night stand and a monogamous relationship. Both are a form of interaction but with different intentions and very different results.

With a one-night stand you gather hardly any information because you aren’t interested in having contact with the person again. Once you achieve your desired interaction you don’t try to continue building the relationship.

However, when you are trying to have a monogamous relationship, you get their contact information, learn their name, get to know their interests, and try to understand the person you’re interacting with in order to build a successful long-term relationship that continues to benefit both parties.

When trying to decide what approach blends with your business model consider the pros and cons of both methods.

The pros and cons of the referral and advocate-centric approaches

Referral-centric approach (referral widget)

Pros

  • Referral widgets can be placed on existing sites
  • Low barrier for advocates to register

Cons

  • No registration other than email address so no advocate data
  • No way to accumulate rewards
  • No way to encourage repeat referrals from advocates
  • Requires web developer to place the widget on sites
  • Requires IT to perform security reviews
  • Ad blockers block referral widgets

Advocate-centric approach (Full referral program)

Pros

  • Full profile of advocate data and program activity
  • Can utilize reward structures that encourage repeat referrals
  • Minimal IT needed
  • Holistic view of all referral activity available for advocates

Cons

  • Registration (1st time only) is an extra step (only if not using SSO)
  • Goes to a different page to make a referral

Unfortunately, while both approaches have their pros, the discrepancies of any relationship building capabilities in the referral-centric approach removes much of a referral program’s ability to positively influence the holistic experience of customers. In addition, it creates a barrier to implement a relationship-focused sales approach which is what the referral methodology is based on and what generates referral program’s unparalleled results.

Discover how an advocate-centric approach can impact your ROI. Calculate what your advocate-centric referral program ROI can be with an ROI Calculator.

ROI Calculator

 

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

Questions? Email me at JEdmondson@amplifinity.com