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

How Verbal Referrals Can Increase Advocate Referrals

We all know that customers, like ourselves, want things to be easy. The more barriers you have in your sales cycle or on your lead forms, the less likely you are to convert all of those leads into opportunities. As marketers, it’s important for us to make every step of the customer journey  easy – starting at the first point of contact, all the way through to the end. According to a survey from McKinsey, making the customer journey as easy as possible increased revenue growth by 10-15%. The survey also found that an easy and effortless customer journey resulted in happier customers, as positive customer experience ratings increased by 20 percent.

Look at companies, like Amazon for example, who have perfected the easy customer journey. By giving users the option to enable 1-click purchase, Amazon removed the barriers that might otherwise stall an online purchase. How can you replicate a similar ease of use for your referral marketing program? You can start by automating and tracking verbal referrals within your system.

Verbal referrals, also referred to as offline referrals, can be difficult. When you have a customer or partner who is ready to pass you a warm introduction to someone excited about your product or service, the last thing you want to do is ask them to stop and fill out a form online or apply to join your program. Instead, you want to be able to receive that referral lead and, in the easiest way possible, be able to enter the referral into your program workflow and make sure it is tracked back to the partner or customer for proper credit. If you are currently trying to track these types of referrals manually, it’s likely the most difficult part of managing a referral marketing program.

By incorporating verbal referral functionality into your referral workflow, you can eliminate a pain point for advocates who make verbal referrals but don’t get the credit due to a lack of attribution in the existing CRM or system of record. By allowing for verbal referrals, your advocates aren’t tied to lead forms through your dedicated system. Instead, they are empowered to leverage those close connections through the power of conversation. Chances are, your advocate will thank you, and be more willing to refer leads in the future.

Listen, people are busy and time is money. We all know this. That’s why it’s more important than ever to track verbal referrals. By allowing proper attribution for verbal referrals, you are allowing the advocate to keep leads engaged and collect those verbal referrals when a lead might not have time to fill out a form. Simply put. a verbal referral reduces the amount of effort an advocate has to put forth in the referral process.

And if you’re still not convinced, listen up. By offering verbal referral functionality as part of your program, you give customers the option to simplify their referral process which, in turn, increases engagement with the referral program. If you incentivize the enrollment process, advocates making verbal referrals are automatically sent an invite to your program if they aren’t already registered. Because the advocate has already made at least one referral, they are more inclined to register to be part of your program. When that verbal referral turns from a lead to a customer, your advocate will be notified and can see their reward which will encourage future referral engagement with your program.

In summary, having the functionality within your program to track and reward verbal referrals is essential to the success of your program – so remove those barriers and increase your advocate engagement! If you’d like to learn more about how you can increase your referral ROI, check out the Amplifinity ROI calculator.

Learn How To Build A Referral Channel In 8 Easy Steps

So you are convinced of the value of referrals and you’re ready to take the first steps towards building a referral channel, but where do you start? In eight simple steps, you can build out and scale a referral channel for your enterprise company. And with the help of software like Amplifinity, you can bring referrals into your sales workflow to increase both partner activity and revenue.

Step 1: Identify Potential Partners

To start building your channel, you need to figure out your referral target market. To do this, you need to have your marketing and sales teams answer these questions:

  • What companies sell complimentary products to your same targets? These companies can include integration partners or companies selling into the same buying group. You can also identify the typical technology stacks and services that are used by your target buying group.
  • Who has influence over your target buyers? If you are selling to small or mid-sized businesses, there’s a lot of providers you can consider including people like their accountants and bankers.
  • What associations do your target buyers join or follow? Whether they are chambers or local business association, these types of groups are a great way to break into the small business network.
  • Are there purchases that typically happen in coordination with yours? For example, when someone buys marketing automation they might also purchase a content platform.
  • Are there consultant groups or agencies that advise on purchase decisions in your industry that are complementary to your product? From niche consultants to product sites, there are likely a number of different consultants and review sites that are influencing your target buyers.
  • Are your target buyers part of a franchise model? If the answer to this one is yes, it’s good to note that the franchisers have direct access and influence you can tap into.
  • Are there under-performing re-sellers in an existing partner channel? If you have an existing partner network made up of re-sellers, you can consider transitioning your under-performing re-sellers into referral partners.  

Step 2: Engage and Recruit Partners

Now that you’ve identified your potential referral partners, you need to get their attention and explain to them the value of becoming a referral partner with your business. To do this you can consider the following value props:

  • Does recommending your product or service put the partner in a positive light with their customers and network?
  • Does it help them become a trusted advisor?
  • Does your product or service add value to their other offerings?
  • Does it make their current offering more sticky for potential customers by increasing usage or value?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you now know how to sell participation in your program as a win-win. Just add to that an equitable incentive model with a commission or some other form of revenue sharing. The key is to drive partner action by outlining the benefits of your referral program on their business.

Next, you need to get your sales team on-board to send your value prop, and to recruit referral partners. Direct sales has an organic incentive to recruit partners for referrals because they reap the benefit of the resulting leads. So, arm your sales team with the right materials and a simple registration process. You can even get your marketing team involved in delivering recruitment campaigns.

Step 3: Enable Referral Partners

The next step in building out your referral channel is enabling your referral partners by giving them everything they need to be successful. The best way to do this is through a personal referral portal. Here are the six things you need in a portal in order to properly engage your referral partners:

  1. Multiple ways to make referrals
  2. Product content to educate and share
  3. Information on the target buyers, including personas
  4. Clear rules that state how a partner earns incentives
  5. Transparency into the referral activities and reward statuses
  6. Training materials about the program and how to make referrals

Once you have all the pieces in place on the portal, you’ll want to make sure you have a motivating incentive structure in place.

Step 4: Incentivize Referral Partners

There are all sorts of ways to incentives referral partners, but how do you know what’s right for your company? When trying to choose the appropriate reward amount, you should consider the following factors:

  • Do you want to reward higher amounts/percentage of revenue for highest performing partners?
  • Do you want to motivate repeat referrals by having an escalating reward based on the number of successful referrals within a time period?
  • Do you want to vary the reward based on deal involvement or lead stage?

The best way to checkpoint your reward amount strategy is to work with marketing to determine their cost per acquisition (CPA) of a customer coming from inbound efforts. Your referral fee should always come in much lower than the marketing CPA.

Next, you want to consider the following when structuring your reward to meet your business needs:

  • Calculation – This can be a flat bounty, a bounty by product purchased or percentage of revenue. When discussing the amount, you may want to offer different rates for different partner types or deal involvement.
  • Escalation – Setting achievement levels with higher payouts is a great way to incentivize repeat referrals.
  • Timing – If you’ve got a subscription product, you may want to consider a retention period before payout to the partner to make sure the new customer is sticky. In these scenarios, you may want to consider rewarding at multiple stages to keep the partner engaged. For instance, 25% of the reward at purchase and 75% after 6 months retention.
  • Accrual – For highly productive programs, it may make sense to accrue reward payments to reduce transaction fees and provide higher accumulated payouts.

No matter how you incentivize, it’s important that this is all manageable for you. The more you can automate your referral system, the easier it will be to handle. Partners that are paid quickly tend to be happy and more successful.

Step 5: Onboarding Referral Partners

Now that you have your recruitment, enablement and incentives all figured out, you need to create a smooth onboarding process. Here are the six key things you need to do during the onboarding process for referral partners:

  1. Collect necessary information – Things like tax form information, banking information (if needed) and basic contact information.
  2. Educate on the target buyer using personas – Referral partners need to know what types of companies, and titles within those companies, are a fit for your solution.
  3. Train on how to make a one-to-one referral ask – Have a conversation with your partners about the best times to introduce your product/service to a target buyer, and the best way to introduce your product/service.
  4. Train on various ways to input referrals into your tracking systemFocus your training on the use case and value for using each referral method, with special attention on how to make one-to-one referrals versus one-to-many referral blasts. Referral types include lead forms, verbal referrals, email, shareable URLs, social media and print cards.
  5. Discuss what happens to a referral lead once they provide it – Your referral partners need to understand your referral process and how you will be communicating with their prospect.
  6. Educate on referral success criteria, data access and any service level agreements – There’s a lot to consider when trying to determine success criteria and incentives for your program. It’s important that you have clearly defined key performance indicators (KPIs) by which you measure success, and that you are clear in your communications about those KPIs to your referral partners.

Step 6: Keep Referral Partners Engaged

You’ve done the hard work of setting up your program, and recruiting and on-boarding partners. Now you need to figure out how to keep the referrals flowing in. The key here is to make it easy for partners to make referrals, and to give them full transparency into their progress. Here are 7 things you can do to keep your referral partners engaged:

  1. Give regular status updates
  2. Give regular program and success story communications
  3. Involve your sales team to help drive referral activity
  4. Have special promotions (internal and external)
  5. Offer a coaching program to help improve the performance of struggling partners
  6. Offer escalating incentives to help encourage repeat referrals
  7. In addition to money, give non-monetary recognition

Step 7: Establish Key Metrics For Your Referral Partner Program

There are 5 key categories you want to measure in order to get the data you need to optimize and grow the output from your referral partners. Those categories are:

  • The referral pipeline – For this one, look at the number of partners, the number of referrals, the number of successful referrals and revenue.
  • Partner activity – Here, you want to look at the percent of partners that made referrals within a time period, the percent of partners that made multiple referrals within that time period, the percent of partners with successful referrals within that time period, the average number of referrals per partner and the average number of successful referrals per partner.
  • Top performers – Look at top partners by number of referrals, top partners by number of successful referrals and top partners by revenue.
  • Under-performers – To figure out your under-performers look at your lowest partners by number of referrals, lowest partners by number of successful referrals and lowest partners by revenue.

It’s important to note that you don’t want to take action on the data you collect on a daily basis. Instead, you should check it often and keep an eye out for trends or anything that falls outside of your expectations.

Step 8: Scale Your Referral Partner Program

Now that you know how to measure the success of your program and partners, it’s time to grow! To kick off growing your referral channel, it’s important to consider your goals and identify opportunities. Here are some key areas to think about when driving program growth:

  • Do I have great partners, but need more?
  • Am I limiting my growth by making my program too complex?
  • Am I incentivizing my partners enough to keep them motivated?
  • Are my partners becoming disengaged with the program?

If you do find that your partners are becoming disengaged as you try to grow your program, consider automating it (if you haven’t already). Referral program software can remove the operational hassle of tracking, attributing and rewarding referrals. Don’t let this powerful channel go underutilized because you’re still using spreadsheets!

To learn more about building and automating successful referral channels, visit our resource library.

6 real life DIY referral program horror stories (and how to avoid them)

First off, let me say that I’m a big fan of pilots. If you’ve never done a referral program before, a small DIY pilot can be a great way to prove out the value of referrals for your organization. With it you can recruit a few sales people that already rely on referrals to fill their pipeline and create a landing page with a form for them to share with their referral sources. Once this is done you can track them manually through to making a purchase and recognize and reward those referral sources to make your sales people look like heroes and make their referral sources more likely to refer again.

So then what? Chances are other sales people are going to hear about it and want in. Before you know it, manually tracking and managing rewards has turned into a full time job but isn’t really getting the scale to justify your time sink. Previous to getting into that mess, learn from these six common and very real horror stories that we’ve seen in DIY referral programs that come to Amplifinity in desperate need of a solution (referral software).

#1 – Broken referral tracking 

When your genius Marketing Ops decides they can stitch together a referral program using the tools in your MA and CRM systems, you will likely end up with glitches in the tracking. This is an extremely common issue that has disastrous consequences. One client had this happening seemingly at random and got tons of calls to salespeople, marketing and the support line wondering where their reward was. They had no way to prove if the referrals were actually generated by the person calling and ended up paying out tons of unconfirmed rewards. Worse yet, sales lost confidence in the program and in marketing, leaving damage between the two departments that took years to repair.

#2 – 178 lead forms in a single referral program

You read that right, one client’s referral partner network was growing so fast that they just kept creating a new lead form for each new partner. 178 was the tipping point. They couldn’t manage it and needed to hire additional partner marketing and marketing ops people to keep going down this path. Furthermore, they were doing a ton of work, but not able to gain consistent revenue because all of their time was spent on managing the program backend versus engaging with the partners for more referrals. Fundamentally, it put the entire partner referral program at risk.

#3 – No data visibility

Broken referral tracking is the worst, but we’ve seen programs also suffer terribly just from lack of data – both internally and in terms of visibility for their referral sources. A referral is a personal introduction (even if done digitally). The person making the referral wants to know where that referral is at, how its being handled, what stage they are in the sales process and whether or not they’ve earned a reward. Without easy access to this information, many of our clients experienced a huge influx of calls to their call center and/or salespeople. This raises unintended negative visibility to the program and becomes an operational nightmare to figure out a process for a person to find the data and follow up with each individual. It ends up being a horrible experience for everyone involved.

#4 – Friendly fraud

Sadly, we’ve had multiple clients experience fraudulent behavior from their salespeople. It happens so much in DIY programs that the industry has termed this “friendly fraud”. We’ve seen this happen in two ways. One is where the salesperson has a “friend” that is in the pool of referral sources and they attribute all of their leads to this person either as a favor to the friend or they share in the kickback. The other behavior we’ve seen is where a salesperson will wait until a deal closes, then call up marketing and insist that the lead came from said friend. It becomes the salesperson’s word against marketing. Without rules in place for referral attribution and visibility, trust gets completely lost and smarketing alignment is out the window.

#5 – Reward fraud

It isn’t just the salespeople that can take advantage of a DIY program, your referral sources can get in on the action too. Many DIY programs are doing manual reward fulfillment of physical checks, gift cards or swag. And that means no tracking data on who got their reward. These clients say they often would get emails and phone calls from their referral sources saying “I didn’t get my reward – can you resend it?” They can never prove it, but they just know they are being taken advantage of and it puts a black eye on the program.

#6 – Tax gotcha

When you start a program out DIY, you often don’t consider the long term implications as the program grows. Often this nightmare comes from a surprise conversation from finance. Basically, finance catches wind of the reward payouts going above taxable limit of $599 and asks for tax information on all referral sources. In multiple clients, this was so devastating to the programs they had to be shut down and lose this source of revenue until the problem could be solved.

How to avoid these mistake

If you don’t want to feel the pain above, you’ve got two options. One, is never start a referral program. This is a safe choice – at least until you get let go because the company doesn’t hit its revenue numbers. The second choice is to get referral software that works for complex go-to-market scenarios. It’s a simple addition to the tech stack that keeps your program compliant, keeps sales and your referral sources happy and provides direct revenue and operational savings for your business. Continue learning how to avoid becoming a referral horror story by exploring our resource library!

resource library

The Importance of Referral Marketing

If you’re in marketing or sales you’ve probably heard of referral marketing, but do you understand it’s value? Referral marketing is defined as leveraging the power of different referral sources – like partners, customers and influencers – to target the potential buyers those sources have relationships with in order to drive sales of your products or services. Referral marketing is a powerful tool, and one of the top rated forms of marketing. It’s important to explore its benefits for your company.

Why Referral Marketing

We know from our data, that a referral channel can deliver a higher value when compared to the standard marketing and partner lead funnels. In fact, when there is sales involvement with a referral program, the conversion rate of referral partner leads shoots up to 41 percent, while the conversion of customer referral leads increases to 30 percent. You can compare that to the industry standard conversion rates for marketing (.78 percent) and partner leads (.48 percent), and see there is real value in companies having referral marketing programs. As Shopify points out, referral marketing is so powerful because people trust the opinions of those they have relationships with, “Trust goes a long way when it comes to convincing someone to buy something. If we don’t trust someone, we aren’t going to listen to them.”

Building Your Referral Program

The first step you should take when considering a new referral program, or when revamping an existing program, is identifying and analyzing your potential referral sources. A referral source can be anyone who interacts or has a relationship with your target audience. These sources can include existing partner channels, influencers and your own customers. Companies typically run several referral programs, with each program focused on the specialized needs of the referral source. Keeping your programs targeted helps you control the message your referral sources are using about your company – the way your partners market to their influencers is likely going to be different than the way your customers market to their friends and family. You can find helpful exercises to help you build a proper referral channel here.

Once you’ve identified your referral sources and have built structure around your programs, it’s important to look at how you will be running them. Companies have a variety of ways they run referral programs. Some create their own in-house systems, some manually track referrals in spreadsheets and many of the more successful companies use referral automation software offered by companies like Amplifinity. If you’re unsure if referral software is right for you, try this ROI calculator.

Key To Success

Referrals tend to generate a higher quality of lead when compared to traditional marketing methods, and once a referral becomes a customer, they are more likely to stick with the company. In fact, the Harvard Business Review states the lifetime value of a referred customer is 16 percent higher than that of non-referred customers. Referred customers also churn 18 percent less than non-referred customers. That’s why it’s important to properly incentivize your referral sources. Did you know the average partner reward amount is $182? According to our data, 76 percent of rewards fall between $101 and $1,000, and most are paid out through either check, gift card or ACH/international ACH. For tips on keeping your referral sources incentivized and active, read our blog Referral Strategy: How to keep referral sources engaged.

If you think Amplifinity’s referral automation software might be a right fit for your company, request a demo today.

Referral Strategy: Create an onboarding process for your referral sources

After identifying your referral sourcesdeveloping a recruitment strategycreating a sales enablement plandeveloping a plan to enable referral sources, and constructing a referral incentive strategy, you can start to fashion a referral strategy that enables you to create an effective onboarding process for your referral sources.

To build an onboarding plan, you need to first determine what information should be collected at registration for different referral source and the training they need to succeed.

5 ways to determine your referral strategy for your registration process

Throughout the life of your referral program, you will need to collect different information from referral sources at different times. To figure out what information you need to collect at registration based on your referral program structure, answer these five questions.

  1. Are you using the referral program as your partner database?

If yes: Collect all required fields at registration, like email, address, and phone number.

If no: Connect your registration and program to your CRM/PRM with SSO and prefill this information.

  1. Are you paying your referral sources via electronic funds transfer?

If yes: Collect the appropriate bank information.

If no: Validate the address or email is correct for a check or electronic gift card.

  1. Do you want to approve referral sources before they join the program?

If yes: Collect the key information you are judging their approval on. This could be a check on access to your target buyer, a sample of existing clients, or the ability to commit to an SLA.

If no: No additional information is needed.

  1. Is a salesperson (direct or channel) involved in the relationship with the referral source?

If yes: Provide a way to select their salesperson during registration so that performance can be tracked and reported by salesperson.

If no: No additional information is needed.

  1. Do you expect that the majority of referral sources will earn the taxable limit of $600 during the calendar year?

If yes: Collect the tax information at registration. If the referral source is inside the U.S. this would be through a W-9. If the referral source is outside the U.S. this would be through a W-8.

If no: Establish a process where if they reach the taxable limit, the appropriate tax information is triggered for collection before further payments are made.

Once these decisions are made you can construct your registration form to collect this information.

To help guide you, download this worksheet, along with the five questions worksheet.

How to build a training plan for your referral program

Another important part of onboarding referral sources is training them. Depending on what type of referral source you’re enabling, this training may be as easy as providing content on your target buyer or as in-depth as laying out the different value propositions each type of buyer will respond to and how to identify them. Depending on your referral source’s knowledge of your business, you may want to just put the information in your referral program portal so they can access it whenever they might need a refresher.

When considering the different training you should provide, think about it in relation to who the trainer will be or if it would be self-taught, the delivery mechanism for the training, if there is a specific date(s) it should occur or if it is ongoing, and if the training is a requirement or optional.

Here are a few types of training you can consider offering:

  • Target buyer and buying personas
  • Referable product(s) and value props
  • How to make a 1-to-1 referral ask
  • What happens after you submit a referral – process and communication
  • How to earn incentives – criteria and payment

To help construct your training process, download the exercise or download the entirety of, The Referral Guidebook, to create an all-inclusive referral strategy.

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