5 referral partner program benchmarks to measure against [Infographic]

As a result of the changes taking place in the partner ecosystem, it has become of paramount importance to analyze how partners and their relative programs are performing in order to meet and adjust to mounting growth objectives. With that in mind the success of a referral partner program was analyzed in order to create benchmarks that can help companies make informed decisions about their partner programs.

The five benchmarks evaluated were analyzed by a third party and comes from partner referrals made on referral partner programs run on the Amplifinity platform, reported in The State of Business Partner Referral Programs.

1. The average activity that can be expected from a referral partner program

Referral partner activity is the foundation of any successful referral partner program. Therefore, it is important to establish a standard to measure against.

According to the data, on average 69% of referral partners are actively making referrals during the course of a year. Of course this does mean that 31% weren’t active but in any partner program there is going to be lulls and churn. The fact that 69% referral partners are continuing to send qualified referrals to a company a very positive activity level compared to other partner programs.

This could be a result of referral partner programs having a lower barrier to entry which makes it easier for partners to participate and submit leads.

2. The average number of referrals a referral partner will make

Based off the average percentage of active referral partners during the course of a year, it’s important to determine how much activity you can expect from these partners.

The data analyzed showed that on average:

  • 45% of referral partners will make 1 referral
  • 47% will make 2-10 referrals
  • 8% will make 11+ referrals

How often referral partners make referrals throughout a year has a large impact on a partner referral program’s success. With almost half the referral partners making multiple referrals during the course of a year, partner referral programs are already in a good place to help meet growth objectives. But to increase this even further, referral partners need to be engaged with and nurtured. Try reaching out on a regular basis to keep the referral partner program top of mind for referral partners.

3. The average number of referral partner leads

The number of leads that are generated per referral partner are directly correlated with the number of referrals made. Therefore, it is reassuring to see that over the course of a year a referral partner can be expected to generate 4.6 leads. This rises to 6.7 if the referral partner has previously had a referral turn into a lead. The increase from previously successful referral partners is a result of the referral partner understanding not only the type of referrals to make but the referral demographic.

To help referral partners who have made referrals but haven’t had any converting to a lead try coaching them on the target buyer and ways to refer. You can also identify the partner who have had success in creating referral leads and reach out to congratulate them and encourage continued productivity.

4. The average partner referral conversion rate from lead to deal

While all the previous data is extremely valuable in order to make sure you are getting optimal engagement from referral partners and that you are getting the highest amount of referrals turning into leads, it all really comes down to if they are turning into deals.

The good news is that the data shows that partner referrals are one of the highest converting sources of leads with a 31% conversion rate from partner referral lead to deal. This outstanding conversion rate can be attributed to the fact that referral programs run on Amplifinity referral software are formal programs that educate partners on the target buyer and automate the process.

This conversion rate increases by 10 percentage points when sales is involved, coming in at a 41% conversion rate. The increase seen here comes from these programs having the ability to manage their sales team to objectives for recruiting partners to the program and collecting referrals from partners.

5. The amount of new customers coming from each partner

When looking at the overall referral partner lead flow on a referral partner program, 863 partners were actively making referrals out of the average number of 1,250 partners enrolled in the program during the course of a year. These 863 partners on average provided 1,231 new customers. This means that on average in a year’s time you can expect every one partner to generate 1.42 new customers.

However, when adding sales into the equation your number of new customers gained per referral partner rises to almost two.

Start visualizing the partner referral flow and discover how to create successful partner referrals:

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Data: How companies are driving deals through partner referral programs

The partner landscape has been going through momentous changes due to the onset of the cloud and consequently the change in target buyer. Therefore, it has become a necessity to diversify partner relationships in order to meet growth objectives. One way companies are doing this is by establishing partner referral programs to:

  • Qualify resellers as referral partners to prove productivity and fit
  • Generate leads from ISVs and other individuals who would never be resellers
  • Get value from resellers who can’t transform to SaaS delivery models but can still be leveraged as referral partners
  • Diversify partners and increase revenue generation through referrals


Based off referral partner data from actual companies’ partner referral programs during the course of a year, benchmarks were formed on:

What is the average referral activity a company can expect from partners?

Kathy Contreras, Research Director for Channel Strategies at SiriusDecisions commented, “Partner referral programs can be used in any industry and offer a way to motivate and reward partners for identifying and registering new leads. This type of partnership [referral partners] provides the opportunity to align with organizations that have strong relationships with a supplier’s target buyers, but are not interested in or qualified to resell the supplier’s offerings (e.g. suppliers that provide collaborative solutions, systems integrators, consultants, influencers, etc).”

In the recent study done by Amplifinity based on partner referrals made on the Amplifinity platform during the course of a year, it was determined that on average 69% of referral partners are actively referring throughout the year.  The average program contained 863 partners making referrals out of the average 1,250 enrolled in the partner referral program.

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The remaining 31% of referral partners enrolled were not actively referring.

How high-quality are the leads that come from referral partners?

Partner referral leads are one of the highest quality partner leads. What makes partner referral leads so high-quality are their one-to-one interactions. But not all partner referral methods necessarily enable that type of interaction. Therefore, it is interesting to compare the most used partner referral methods to their success in driving deals.

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Most Popular Partner Referral Methods

As the chart illustrates, a lead form is by far the most popular way for partners to refer. This is logical since partners have a higher comfort level with lead forms as a result of it being a common business practice for partners. When looking at how lead forms converted for partners it is no surprise that it came in as the second most successful in terms of generating deals with a 37% conversion rate from partner referral lead to deal.

But if lead forms have the second highest conversion rate what is the highest?

Surprisingly, print cards have a conversion rate of partner referral lead to deal of 67%. However, this must be taken with a grain of salt since print cards were used less than 1% of the time by referral partners. This is another method that emphasizes the value of that one-to-one referral from partners.

Social media comes in as a far second in terms of popularity, with the data showing that not one partner referral coming from social media converted to a deal. This brings to the forefront the assertion that it is the one-to-one interaction that makes partner referrals such high-quality referral. While social media referrals can be done one-to-one it is more often used as a general blast.

“The data supports the concept that channel marketers already know – personalization improves conversion,” says Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity. “The same goes for referrals. Social media, which is typically used as a one-to-many referral method was the second most used but had no success. Partner referral programs need to enable one-to-one referrals with methods like print cards, lead forms and verbal; which had high success rates.”

What impacts partner referral programs’ conversion rates?

The average success of deals coming from partner referral on the Amplifinity platform is 31%. On its own this conversion rate is remarkable, but when compared to the overall industry average created by Salesforce’s Implisit of 0.48% it almost becomes unbelievable.

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However, this drastic increase in partner deal conversion didn’t surprise Winter, “It didn’t shock me that the success rate of leads created from partner referrals run on Amplifinity was so much higher than partner lead industry standards. When companies have the ability to enable partners with target buyer information while automating referral tracking, communications and incentive fulfillment it’s easy to see how referral volume and quality would skyrocket.”

Another factor that impacts the conversion rate is the fact that many partners will only bring a referral forward when a prospect has already become interested in the product or service. Attribution can additionally happen at the opportunity stage, which inherently inflates the success rate.

How does enabling sales involvement change the partner referral conversion rate?

While a 31% conversion rate is amazing by any standards, the Amplifinity report showed that enabling sales involvement in the partner referral program drove up the conversion rate even more. On average, a referral program that enabled sales to actively recruit partners to the program, generate referrals from partners, qualify referrals through partners, and receive a facilitated introduction from partners, increased the conversion rate to 41%.

What type of compensation is being offered to referral partners?

Compensation is very important when it comes to any partner program. Within the compensation structure lies the motivation for partners to make referrals. So what type of compensation is used most to motivate partners?

    • 60% of programs offer checks
    • 20% of partner referral programs offer gift cards
    • 20% of programs offer bank transfer

The most common compensation amount paid out to referral partners was between $101 – $1,000 with 76% of partner referral programs paying between those amounts. This large variance can be due to the percentage of revenue a partner referral program pays out and the cost of the product or service the partner is referring.

Download the full report to see more data on business partner referral programs including:

        • Most offered referral methods
        • Most successful referral methods
        • How the top 1% and top 10% of referral partners perform
        • Average referral pipeline
        • And much more

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What types of partner referrals are driving new deals? [Infographic]

Companies who have implemented referral partner software to automate partner referrals and incentives are using it to help meet growth objectives by leveraging smaller partners, qualifying potential resellers and continue to get revenue from resellers who can’t transform to a SaaS delivery model. And as more companies start to diversify partner relationships and automate this process it is interesting to investigate not only how partners are using referral programs but the success partners are having with different types of referrals.

The data used here comes from the new benchmarks report, The State of Business Partner Referral Programs. These benchmarks are a result of partner referrals made in business partner referral programs run on the Amplifinity platform.

What type of referral methods are companies providing referral partners?

Out of the six referral methods, the inclusion of these methods are the following:

  • 100% include lead form
  • 50% include email
  • 50% include verbal referral
  • 50% include shareable URL
  • 30% include social media
  • 10% include print cards

It is no surprise that every program included lead forms since this is a common method of lead submission for any type of partner program. But while this insight is a great way to understand how companies are enabling partner referrals, a better indicators of effectiveness of partner referral methods are the actual use of these methods by partners and the relative conversion rates.

What referral methods are referral partners using the most?

It is clear that the inclusion of a referral method in partner referral programs are directly related to use by referral partners. However, looking at how partner referrals are most likely to happen is a data point that gives a great deal of insight into partner preferences and what type of methods should be included in a partner referral program. The following show what referral methods were most used by referral partners:

  • 81% use lead form
  • 13% use social media
  • 3% use verbal
  • 2% use shareable URL
  • 1% use email
  • <1% use print cards

Logically, lead forms are most used as they are included in 100% of partner referral programs. But what becomes interesting is the second most used referral method. Social media comes in second for use even though it was only included in 30% of programs. Verbal, shareable URL and email fall closely together in use but fall far below the use of social media even though they are all offered 20% more than social media. You could say social media is so popular because it is an easy way to directly refer. But if that was the case than shareable URL usage should be higher than social media since it is just as easy to directly refer someone and included in more programs. The difference is that social media can be a general blast out to all contacts without having a specific person in mind. This makes it easier and allows referral partners to continue to refer especially if a partner doesn’t have a specific referral with a need for the company’s product or service. But easy isn’t always better, especially for partner referral programs. When it comes down to it, it is all about the conversions.

Which partner referrals are converting to deal?

Moving from highest use to highest converting, you may notice that two methods are missing from the list – email and social media. These have no conversions. With social media having the second highest usage but no conversions, it proves that general blast don’t work in driving deals from referral partners. This is because when a referral doesn’t include a one-to-one relationship it loses its influential power. To try and correct this, train referral partners on the right way to make referrals and how to make one-to-one referrals through social media.

The following is the rate at which the rest of the partner referral methods converted:

  • Print cards – 67%
  • Lead form – 37%
  • Shareable URL – 21%
  • Verbal – 21%

While print cards have an amazing conversion rate this must be taken relative to use and inclusion. If you remember, print cards were only included in 10% of programs and have less than 1% of use.

Lead forms have a solid and reasonable conversion rate that goes along with the rest of the data. While verbal referrals still have a very good conversion rate it was only used 3% of the time. With verbal referrals now being automated and trackable, I predict that the use will increase in the coming years and therefore the relative conversion rate.

Start visualizing partners’ referral process and discover how to grow partner referral conversions: