Why you should break lead assignment rules for a referral program and certain laws for fun

Let’s be honest, you take a little pleasure in breaking the rules, mostly because there are so many rules that ought to be broken, like laws such as:

  • If you have a mustache it is illegal to kiss a women (Nevada)
  • It’s illegal to sing off-key (North Carolina)
  • If you harass Bigfoot you can be arrested or fined (Washington)

Personally, if I see Bigfoot I plan on getting a selfie with him, and I take great pleasure in singing off-key. But one of most important rules I highly suggest you break is your lead assignment rules for you referral program.

Don’t get me wrong, lead assignment rules are important for your sales team. But for every rule there’s always an exception and your referral program is that exception. And while lead assignment rules might not be the most fun to break, I can tell you it’s certainly much more rewarding than breaking any of the laws above.

3 Reasons why rules were meant to be broken . . . for your referral program

There are 3 marvelous benefits to breaking your leads assignment rules for your referral program.

  1. Motivate sales to recruit advocates– When you opt to break lead assignment rules in your referral program you add increased motivations for salespeople to recruit advocates. This is done through advocate ownership, or in other words any referrals a salesperson’s advocate makes aren’t distributed by the lead assignment rules you’re traditionally using but given directly to the salesperson who owns the advocate. The salesperson then gets the credit and benefits of closing the referrals sale, motivating them to increase their recruitment and nurturing of advocates.
  2. Prompt sales to take better care of the referrals – Along with motivating salespeople to recruit advocates, breaking lead assignment rules also prompts sales to take better care of referrals because they get attributed the sale of the referrals. This can include qualifying referrals by contacting the advocate who referred them before contacting the referral so as to learn everything they need about the referral from one of the people who knows them best.
  3. Increase an advocate’s willingness to refer – Half the battle of obtaining new prospects is getting them to trust you brand. But by breaking lead assignment rules your advocate’s willingness to refer is drastically increased because of the understanding that their referral will be interacting with the same salesperson they already trust and not someone new.

These 3 benefits galvanize your advocates and salespeople to accelerate the success of your referral program and increase your amount of successful referrals. Your sales team plays a large role in making your referral program a success. By providing them with the tools to leverage your program you increase your ROI substantially. But don’t take my word for it. Try out this free ROI calculator and discover how including your salespeople as an interracial part of referral program increases you revenue growth.

 

launching a referral program

Originally published the Salesforce blog

Questions? Tweet me @TrishaWinter

How widgets limit your referral program’s functionality

Are referral widgets just a vanity application?

Referral widgets have become a widely adopted approach for businesses so you may be considering whether this is the best path to launching your referral program. But unless you’re an ecommerce company concerned with only tracking a single transaction and not interested in generating repeat referrals, widgets fail when applied to referral programs.

In fact, when widgets are applied to most B2B referral programs they become more of a vanity application than anything else. Like vanity metrics, widgets’ trending popularity in the technology sphere might make you think that adopting the widget strategy will improve engagement since it has no barrier to refer. But for B2Bs, widgets fail to prompt and capture repeat referral action and data which is essential to a successful referral program. While a widget makes it easy for customers to make a referral, it only does this by dramatically reducing the amount of valuable information you acquire.

A full referral program however, captures customer and partner information in order to build a mutually beneficial relationship and increase the value of referrals, generate and close a higher number of referrals, and obtain repeat referrals from the same costumer.

Check out these 7 questions to help you decide if a widget is really what you want or will just act as a vanity application.

7 Questions to ask when considering a referral widget

  1. Will a widget inhibit referral program data collection?

 

Yes. With a widget, there is no referral program registration. Program registration provides deeper understanding of your advocates and repeat referrals. The information you collect at the time of referral using a widget is usually the bare minimum necessary to track and fulfill a reward. Typically this is just an email address. The gathered information is more concerned with delivery of the gift card than creating a relationship with your advocates.

 

  1. How does qualifying leads change with a referral widget compared to a full referral program?

 

With a widget no advocate profile is created, which means that you cannot see top advocates (other than email addresses). Additionally, there is not enough information to pass into Salesforce to match up with a contact. Therefore, no advocate data exists in Salesforce. That also means no Advocate name listed on the referral lead so you can’t contact them to prequalify the lead.

 

  1. But wait, can’t we just collect the name and create a profile each time a customer or partner use the widget?

 

Sure, but then you are forcing them to register each time and they might change their contact information so you have no way to ensure that their data will be combined properly. Furthermore, this would eliminate the fundamental advantage of the widget that it is a simple process. Once you add registration, you might as well not use the widget.

 

  1. Hold up, if it is an SSO system, can’t the widget talk to that system and get the info?

 

This is possible, but only with so much dev effort that it eliminates the value of the widget being easy to drop in. One company I talked to about this strategy attempted to do this and had to develop an entire page solely focused on supporting their new widget. It took so much dev time and effort that they never were able to implement the widget on any other page.

 

  1. Does adopting a widget based strategy introduce any security concerns?

 

Yes. Another issue with widgets is that they open up your website to the potential of getting hacked. More specifically, your website is at the mercy of the security processes and standards of the company developing the widget you are adopting. To avoid this issue marketers should make sure the widget goes through a comprehensive internal security review to avoid introducing any security risks to their web properties.

 

  1. But widgets at least are always available and visible to a website visitor right?

 

No. Another limitation of widgets is that they don’t always work when a web visitor has ad blocking turned on. About 20% of web users today utilize ad blocker technology, which means 20% of your visitors won’t be able to refer.

 

  1. So how do widgets keep customers or partners engaged in the referral program?

 

They don’t. Another issue with the widget is that you can’t accumulate rewards. Since the widget tracks the single referral and not the advocate, you can’t use reward structures such as monthly commission checks. This also discourages repeat referrals.

At Amplifinity, our platform is designed using a relationship focused sales approach, which means that providing you the best data while creating a good experience for the customer and partners who are referring you is our top priority. And with the option of single sign-on (SSO) we lower the barrier of entry into the referral program to make customer and partner referrals seamless. Learn what features will increase your referral program ROI by checking out our features page and requesting a demo today!

 

ROI Calculator

Questions? Email me at JSwenson@amplifinity.com

Originally appeared in Customer Think

How to grow a software startup without marketing

I feel a little “Benedict Arnold” writing this as I make a living as a Marketer. However, it has become glaringly obvious to me in the past few years that early stage startups have some interesting opportunities to stimulate growth without needing to invest scarce funding in Marketing headcount. When the company takes off, by all means get some Marketers in to help scale. In the meantime, here are the key things you need to do.

1. Build a website
I think everyone gets this one. You need a website, but don’t outsource this! The one hire I recommend you make is a Digital Marketer who gets how to build a lead converting website, understands SEO and SEM.  Your website needs to be a dynamic part of your marketing strategy where you are constantly working to improve traffic to your site from organic search and conversion once they get there.

The next step in maturity once you have the funds will be to make sure you show up in search for the key buying terms for your product. Again, do not outsource! Make sure your Digital Marketer is Google certified and knows their stuff, then turn them loose. They will get farther than any agency because they understand your product(s) and are a part of your business.

2. Keep software to a minimum
Vendors would have you believe that you need marketing automation as soon as you start generating leads. But really, you don’t need it until you are much larger and even then you might not need all the bells and whistles that marketing automation is based on. If you want to email product releases to customers, just use your email system. Lead nurturing with email is starting to become an outdated practice as prospects are filtering and ignoring vendor emails as a standard.

That means that email marketing software (the simple version of what marketing automation is based on) is no longer a must have either.CRM is a tougher call. You are going to want to keep track of your customers and you’ll want CRM functionality as you grow. There are some inexpensive entry level products for startups. But don’t be bullied into it. The important thing is to keep a clear record of your customers, their contact information, the product(s) they have and a way to keep basic notes on your interactions with them. You will have turnover and you’ll want to make sure that customer IP doesn’t leave with your employees.

3. Start a referral program
So if you don’t have marketing, how are you going to grow your business? The answer is with a referral program. Uber, Dropbox, AirBnB and countless others achieved growth via referrals. It works because your happy customers are doing the marketing work for you. They are finding the right prospects that are interested in your products. This is critical to helping you scale because you don’t have the money to have the few precious people who are selling chase down a bunch of bad leads. You need them focused on the highest quality leads and referrals from people who already use your product are the answer.

This is the one place I recommend you invest in a solid referral software solution that can grow with your business. The reason for this is because tracking referrals is not an easy thing. You need to connect a prospect to an advocate across multiple digital avenues and through the sales cycle. If anything breaks or is missed, you can easily give your once happy customers a very disappointing experience.

4. Spoil your customers more than your kids I can’t stress enough how important this last step is. Gone are the days where customers use your product and are satisfied that’s enough. They expect you to delight them. They expect you to treat them like they are precious and valued. This is particularly true in software where you have a long term subscription relationship. You constantly have to be earning their business.

So what can you do? Be proactive and give them value beyond what your product does. Don’t wait for problems to come in, solicit feedback from customers often. Invite them to focus groups with their peers to discuss how to use the product or how it can be improved. Monitor your customer’s use of your product and consult with them on how they can get more value.

And of course, random acts of kindness don’t hurt either. Call them to congratulate them on a successful referral and make them feel special. Send something fun to them in social media or via direct mail just because. If you aren’t giving them all the love and support that a parent would, they just might start thinking they aren’t wanted and take their business elsewhere.

ROI Calculator

Care to further the discussion? Tweet me @Trishawinter

Amplifinity Announces Automated Referral Solution for the Telecommunications Industry

Telecommunications companies focused on customer service are using referral software to generate organic growth from satisfied customers.

Ann Arbor, Mich., January 28, 2016  — Large telecommunications businesses are household names, which makes it difficult for smaller companies to compete. While some telecoms may not be able to outspend their larger rivals, they can offer a more personalized experience. The challenge is to get the attention of new customers who are looking for exceptional customer service. Telecom companies like RingCentral, Jive, and Charter Spectrum are successfully using customer referrals to help spread the word.

Today, Amplifinity is announcing a new telecommunications industry solution based on its industry leading SaaS (software as a service) platform. The solution offers telecommunications businesses the capability to cut through the marketing “noise” with a referral automation platform to address the need to attract and acquire new customers. Studies have shown that one-to-one referrals from a trusted source, like happy customers, immediately increases the trust level that a new customer has with telecommunications provider. The Wharton Business School discovered the lifetime value of a referred customer is 16 times higher than a non-referred customer.

 

Amplifinity features that drive telecommunication success:

 

  • Better customer engagement: Amplifinity’s platform can help improve customer relations while growing revenue. Amplifinity provides sales enablement features that help sales and customer success teams stay involved and informed in the referral process. Access to customer advocate data enhances each interaction and improves customer engagement by enabling company representatives to recognize and thank customers that make referrals.
  • Mobile Access: Customers often refer during interactions with friends and family. By enabling the ability to refer from a mobile device, advocates can refer at the moment the opportunity arises.
  • Reward Choice:  Consumers will be motivated to refer for many reasons.  By offering the consumer the ability to select from different rewards types that are tailored to a customer’s preference, more referrals will naturally occur. Some popular rewards are bill credits, gift cards, and charitable contributions.
  • Advocate Nurture: The Amplifinity solution automatically sends customers proactive and informative messages that help nurture the referral process. In addition, advocates are always able to login to their customer account and see the status of every referral they’ve made.
  • Salesforce Integration: For companies already using Salesforce as their CRM, Amplifinity is fully integrated, so referrals can automatically become leads for the sales team. Amplifinity offers a fully integrated and certified managed referral application available on the Salesforce AppExchange.

 

“Referral programs are a very effective way for telecommunications providers to acquire customers and drive growth,” said Amplifinity’s CEO Larry Angeli. “Your happy customers will readily refer you to their network. This is a win-win for businesses focusing on delivering differentiated value with customer service.”

 

About Amplifinity

Amplifinity’s referral amplification software turns customer, employee and partner advocacy into revenue. Our platform provides complete referral tracking and management with 100% accuracy so none are missed. Enterprises like ADP and DirecTV trust Amplifinity to enable high-quality acquisition while providing an engaging, fully-branded experience for their advocates. www.Amplifinity.com

 

 

Salesforce AppExchange celebrates 10 years of inspiring businesses’ innovation

Amplifinity Connector continues to empower Salesforce clients

January 14th contains an abundance of important events including birthdays, deaths, cultural and historical events. But today we celebrate a birthday that’s purely representative of innovation, collaboration, and specialization – the 10th birthday of the Salesforce AppExchange.

Birthdays, and especially a business’s birthday is a celebratory occasion because it demonstrates the ability to adapt to changing ecosystems and markets. But Salesforce’s AppExchange has not only managed to succeed with their own products and services, it also has enabled other businesses to extend their reach by challenging them to innovate easy product and service options that empower integration with Salesforce through the AppExchange. And as the AppExchange launches into the double digits we take a closer look at the innovation it has inspired.

The value of the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce clients

One such innovation that offers easy application through a sophisticated managed app is the Amplifinity Connector. The Amplifinity Connector is the premier managed referral app that easily incorporates the sensational power of Amplifinity referral software into Salesforce. This simple solution aligns marketing and sales for optimal efficiency by leveraging customer and partner relationships and maximizes the value of Salesforce.

Felecia Flack of Northern Michigan University declares enthusiastically that, “The combination of Amplifinity and Salesforce enables our constituents to easily SHARE the word about our great university. We’re excited about the connections we’re making with prospective students because of this partnership.”

The success of the AppExchange has allowed Amplifinity to provide Salesforce clients a unique and unparalleled combination of Salesforce Cloud and advanced referral automation software that:

  • Increases sales productivity to optimize revenue growth
  • Enhances lead follow through from sales
  • Provides superior data to improve the use of Salesforce
  • Offers more advanced tracking to attribute marketing ROI
  • Improves marketing program results by creating a consistent channel for lead generation that is easy for marketing to maintain

This exceptional value has been a key instigator in the adoption of the Amplifinity Connector by Salesforce clients. But the AppExchange hasn’t only added value to Amplifinity referral software, but inspired continual innovation and product development (specifics coming soon).

The fact is, the Salesforce AppExchange does not only inspire innovation, but challenges businesses to keep developing advanced technology in a simple deliverable package. This train of thought goes beyond lending itself to the AppExchange but to large scale technological creation. So let’s raise a glass, eat a piece of cake, and develop a new disruptive technology to celebrate 10 years of the Salesforce AppExchange.

Women in Tech
10 Women in Tech toasting Salesforce with local, Michigan beverages on the AppExchange’s 10th Birthday!

CTA_ROI_calculator_v2

Questions? Email me at JEdmondson@amplifinity.com

 

Organic acquisition is great, but can it be done at scale?

Why referral marketing is the best channel for organic acquisition

Organic acquisition – kind of an oxymoron. Executives see the word “organic” and they think “free”.  Marketers see the word “organic” and think “a helluva lot of work”. Both know that it is the highest quality, but achieving it at scale has largely been a pipe dream.

The problem is that organic acquisition has always been a ‘Field of Dreams’ exercise. If you build it, they will come. And if you nail organic search with the right content, that does occasionally happen. I highly recommend that you keep up the great work in SEO, but the world of organic acquisition just got bigger!

Accel Partners, has created a unique visualization of the marketing technology space at Growthverse.com. Each circle is a subcategory and the size of the circle represents how many technologies are available.

growthverse

Zooming in on Organic Acquisition, you’ll note that SEO is now joined by SOCIAL and INFLUENCER/ REFERRAL MARKETING. In fact, both categories are larger than SEO. What this means, is that there are new ways to go to market for organic acquisition of new business.

growthverse2

A Breakdown of Organic Acquisition Technologies

Looking at these three subcategories of Organic Acquisition, it is clear that there are some interesting new ways for marketers to take more control over how they leverage organic marketing to drive demand.

SEO: This one is pretty well understood. There are technologies out there that help you win the Google search game by pointing out opportunities to optimize your content and get more traffic. This is a very valuable effort for marketing to focus on as organic traffic converts higher than other types of traffic.

SOCIAL: If you think about it, social media has given us additional search engines. In fact, after Google, YouTube is the second most used search engine. That’s why it makes sense that there are tools that can help you optimize the content you post on social sites in order to drive the most engagement and click through to your website.

INFLUENCER/ REFERRAL MARKETING: This category is the fastest growing of the three and for good reason. Technology that can help you to connect with your influencers or advocates in a personal way, at scale, is very appealing. In fact, it gives marketers control over organic acquisition for the first time ever!

In both B2C and B2B companies, they are establishing programs for customers, employees and even partners to advocate on behalf of their brand. The most valuable to those responsible for customer acquisition is referral marketing. The opportunity to have advocates drive a steady stream of new business into your pipe without having to use traditional paid channels is a very exciting prospect.

Now, take a moment to revisit what you are doing to optimize your organic acquisition efforts. Lead generation and customer acquisition marketers may be missing opportunities to drive high quality demand with an organic price tag that executives covet. Discover if referral marketing is the right organic acquisition channel to generate leads for your business by calculating how much growth revenue your business can achieve with an ROI calculator.

Best referral program

Care to continue the conversation? Tweet me at @Trishawinter

Originally published in Customer Think