Referral Partners: Your Secret Weapon Against Churn

In today’s world, customers have more choice than ever. This has completely changed the way that they approach shopping and brand loyalty. Because they know that they have choices, many will walk away without a second thought if they think they can get a better deal elsewhere. This is called “churn,” or turnover.

Many businesses are taking steps to either minimize or mitigate the damages that churn does to their bottom line. But many aren’t taking advantage of one of the most powerful weapons against churn that there is: referral partners.

Referral partners can completely change the way that you approach lead generation and customer relations in general. Here are just some of the ways that referral partner leads can help you decrease churn and improve your revenue growth.

Leads from Referral Partners Are More Qualified.

It’s just a fact that referral partner leads are one of the highest quality partner leads. This is especially true when referral partner programs facilitate one-on-one interactions, like verbal referrals. By doing this, businesses can ensure that the leads that they bring on are ready to buy and understand what they can do for them.

What does this sort of method do for churn? For one thing, it makes sure that you aren’t just bringing in a bunch of leads for the sake of it. Methods like cold calling have a high turnover rate because they bring in leads that would never even consider using your product or service, or maybe they aren’t even in the market for it. Referral partners only reach out to people who have a vested interest in what you do.

Perhaps even more impressively, verbal referrals put a face to your brand. This makes the relationship feel far more personal, and makes them more loyal. This can be the difference between losing a client and keeping them.

The Sales Cycle Goes Faster.

There are multiple statistics that prove that referral partners speed up the sales cycle. This means that leads are coming in faster, and because we’ve already proven that referral partner leads are more qualified, that means more of them are turning into deals faster.

This does wonders for the churn rate. Because even though referral partner leads are less likely to leave when given a verbal referral, some still will. By shortening the sales cycle and bringing more leads in faster, those leads that do leave will get replaced more quickly. This helps businesses ensure that they’re bringing in more leads than they’re losing.

In addition, because the sales cycle is shortened, sales people will have more time to spend on new leads. This improves morale and only continues to positively affect your bottom line.

Referral Partners Improve Customer Experience.

This is one of the more unexpected perks of a referral partner model. But a referral partner model can improve the customer experience by putting the company in charge of their journey. This allows them to meet client needs and expectations early, giving them an exceptional experience overall.

Customers are loyal to businesses that give them a positive experience. A referral partner model can help your business achieve this, especially if you have referral partners who give verbal referrals.

This works because it makes the experience personalized. Suddenly, prospects aren’t just numbers or pixels on a screen. They’re treated as people and their problems are treated as important. This really makes a difference for their overall experience.

Automation Makes Referral Partner Channels Easier to Manage.

Now, all of this probably sounds difficult. As a business owner, you probably don’t have the time or the budget to keep track of things like verbal referrals, or sales cycles. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage the power of referral partners to work for you.

Software like Amplifinity makes it easier than ever for your business to run, track and scale referral partner programs for increased revenue growth. By keeping all of these things running smoothly through automation, you can make sure that customers have a good experience, reducing churn and improving your bottom line.

How the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce Can Improve Your Referral Program ROI

What are you missing out on if you don’t automate your referral program with software like Amplifinity? The answer is simple, the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce. The Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce is one of the key integrations we offer, and it can vastly improve the performance of your existing referral programs.

Workflow integration

Without the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce you are missing out on a tighter integration with your existing deal flow. What does that mean? Well, the last thing you want when looking for a way to automate your program is to have to re-engineer your entire sales workflow to fit your software purchase. What you need is to find a tool that both automates the process and fits into your existing sales workflow. Whether it’s having a solution for managing and tracking offline referrals, as Amplifinity does with our verbal referral functionality, 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 your program’s success.

Verbal referrals

By incorporating verbal referral functionality into your referral program 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 through Amplifinity’s software, 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 advocates will thank you and be more willing to refer leads in the future.

Reward calculation

Don’t miss out on Amplifinity’s reward features by choosing a different software for your program. Finding the right reward structure to drive a high level of customer and partner engagement is essential to the success of your program. The Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce allows you to easily reward based on the size of the deal by allowing you to calculate rewards in Amplifinity with the help of revenue fields in Salesforce, or by allowing you to simply set the reward in Salesforce and have Amplifinity pick the reward up at deal completion.

Program recruitment and retention

Don’t miss out on another great feature – the one click invitation. With Amplifinity, we make it easy for you to invite contacts to the program with just one click. In addition, our platform allows your advocates, once they join, to follow their referral lead through the entire process within their portal – leading to more transparent lead tracking, and happier partners and customers. If your partners and customers are happy, they are more likely to stay and engage with your program.

Troubleshooting

Through the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce all Salesforce users can have access to Amplifinity’s Customer and Partner referral profiles within Salesforce. This makes troubleshooting any issues that might arise within your program easy for your customer service representatives, partner managers or sales representatives. It also makes it easy to quickly check the status of referrals when interacting with a partner or customer.

Sales Team Performance

The last, and frankly the most important, benefit of the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce is the positive impact it will have on your sales team. Our data shows that having a sales team that is completely bought into your referral program is one of the leading factors of referral program success. The Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce not only enables your sales team to continue to work referral leads using the same process they use for all leads, but it also allows the sales team to take advantage of the tools available through the Amplifinity Connector for Salesforce to increase their number of leads, by being able to invite contacts and own the referrals they produce.

If you want to learn more about managing referral programs with Amplifinity, check out our resources page here.

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

Fintech’s Revolution AND Evolution: From competition to collaboration to referral partner programs

Tornadoes, whiteouts, hurricanes… we can usually see signs of their impending arrival, but even so, we are never quite prepared for the effects they bring. One day, we see a well-known and understood landscape, and next, everything has changed and we must learn how to navigate a new territory.

Thus was the fintech revolution.

But while this shift of the financial landscape may have seemed sudden, there were signs. Once the financial meltdown removed the guarantee of banks being a stable financial choice, the idea of alternatives to the traditional banking model suddenly became a viable option. And with the technological boom, digitalization of finance operations was a logical business innovation. Disruptive and transformative, a wave of financial technology (fintech) startups formed from these two coinciding developments.  While new B2B fintech business models targeted several different facets of the financial world, the majority have focused in on payment and lending. These startups brought the finance industry into an age of technological innovation by infusing automation, real-time payments, and better loan offerings through peer-to-peer lending platforms into the financial ecosystem.

From this, the finance world got much more snug. Suddenly, banks’ dominance of financial markets wasn’t a given, and the financial industry was overrun with competition. The status-quo was no more. But the fintech revolution didn’t stop there. This revolution has undergone an evolution. And competition was just the first step in an evolving chain of transformations that allows not only fintechs to benefit, but banks and clientele as well.

Competition: fintech vs. banks

The recent boom in the fintech industry reaches across the globe as people become more comfortable managing their money and business online. These B2B fintech startups are offering tech-enabled payments, currency exchange, crowdfunding, online lending, and wealth management services. These companies are competing and beating out traditional banks and financial services firms. Why?

The digitization of businesses has heightened B2B customers’ expectations of deliverables. Fintechs offer companies agility, speed, transparency, and integrations that banks have only ever offered businesses on a superficial level. According to Business Insider, 82% of customers said that a primary value proposition of these products is that they are easy to use, 81% said faster service, and 80% said good customer experiences.

There is a large frustration with big banks which allows fintech companies to fill the demand. Goldman Sachs estimates that fintech start-ups could steal up to $4.7 trillion in annual banking revenue, and $470 billion in profit, from established financial services companies.

But competition isn’t solely a worry for banks. Other fintechs also face their own competitors. Like any disruptive business innovation, disruption of industry standards only get you so far. Fintech startups are flooding the industry, and because of this banks won’t be the only ones who disappear in the coming years. And while these FinTech startups may have changed the financial structure for good, when the dust settles, and the new landscape is set, the financial world is going to get much more hostile for these pioneers. This is especially true for fintechs that only have a niche offering and lack the long-standing experience and insight many investors are looking for. But don’t get me wrong, the fintech industry is still growing. So what does this mean overall? While the fintech industry has amazing potential to overtake banks, it also has its own challenges from within. With fintech lacking the long-term success and wider offerings needed to dominate the financial market and banks lacking the agility to compete head-to-head against fintechs, the realization has occurred that continued survival does not lie in competition, but rather collaboration.

Collaboration: acceptance and integration of digitalization

As fintechs grew in abundance banks tried to compete, but their established internal structure lacked automation, was restricted by regulations, and couldn’t adopt anything that would come close to the agility of fintechs’ SaaS products. On the other side, fintechs found it extremely difficult to garner industry respect and trust without the historical experience that banks have. In this way, fintechs and banks have become two halves of a whole, and thus came about the inspired idea of collaboration.

So it’s settled, fintechs and banks collaborate to create disruptive new offers. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that. How to go about designing a beneficial partnership requires more thought. This hang-up is felt throughout the industry. In fact, according to Business Insider, 46% of banks plan to collaborate with fintechs, but only 13% believe their core systems can handle the technical demands of partnerships. The financial industry believes partnering with these companies is the best way to stay afloat. This makes sense since banks are set up to maximize security and minimize their costs, not to innovate. Reliance on fintech companies for innovation will be critical. And for fintechs, to gain expertise in regulatory matters and create stronger offerings they need to be able to set up an equal partnership with banks. But in order to do this, it is crucial that fintechs and banks find a way to automate and scale this type collaboration. Thus enters automated referral partner programs.

Referral partner programs: Aligning banks and fintech companies

Fintechs and banks both have different strengths that allow them to accomplish a certain level of success, but they each also have challenges that hold them back from growing further. A partnership removes the need for either to have to overcome these challenges internally. But in order to create long-term sustainable partnerships, banks and fintechs need to be able to automate that relationship. Referral partner programs does this by facilitating a seamless referral partnership that is low friction. Referral partnerships are at the core of many fintechs’ success. OnDeck, Funding Circle, and Lending Club and TSYS are just a few that have developed referral partner programs in order to establish greater trust, provide a wider offering and reach new customers. This is because referral partner programs can create deep partnerships with banks and fintechs that fill offering gaps to increase the value they can provide customers. Referral partners understand the pains of target customer and can extend the trust they have previously developed to encompass the referred company.

Fintech and banks can go about referral partner programs in three different ways:

1. A company can build a referral partner program for their many different individual partners, small businesses and agencies. These will usually be for unmanaged partners.

2. A company has a major partner entity, for which they create a dedicated referral program. This type of referral partner program would be based off a deeply integrated offering on the technological side and the ideological side. One example of this type of referral partner program is Funding Circle and H&R Block. In this referral partnership, H&R Block made Funding Circle the preferred lender for all their small business customers.

3. A company builds a program for one or many major partner entities and their sales teams. This is a more advanced and requires the ability for partner entities to have the ability to keep track of, manage, and increase their advocate pool while having greater capabilities to incentivize and manage partner activity. OnDeck has found great success at using a more advanced referral partner program to increase customer acquisition.

As the financial landscape changes, think about how you can overcome your internal challenges and generate more high-quality leads, especially from your smaller partner. To discover what kind of benefits a referral partner programs and referral software could provide, download the benchmark study, The State of Business Partner Referral Programs – Annual report, to better understand referral partner activity, behavior, sales involvement, rewards and the relative conversion rates.

 

Originally published on Salesforce

Overcoming the challenges of reaching the B2B buyer

Speaking as a B2B buyer, I don’t answer my phone anymore. I don’t read cold emails – in fact, thanks to overcoming “inbox zero” tendencies, I don’t even take the time to open/delete them anymore. I used to, but with the insane influx of new technologies geared toward marketing, too many people were trying to reach me pushing their “life-changing” solutions. It was too much noise, and it wasn’t sustainable if I wanted to get my job done.

So how can you reach me or one of my peer B2B buyer executives who have been forced to completely ignore the noise?

Well, let’s consider the various go-to-market approaches that sales and marketing organizations are using . . . (hint, they are organized from least effective to most effective)

The channels that will and won’t reach your B2B buyer

Traditional interrupts sales and marketing – This would be a big no. Beyond not answering cold calls and emails, I also use ad blocker. I do attend some tradeshows, but I won’t stop by your booth unless I’ve heard of you and have identified that you meet a need or solve a problem I have. Which means, tradeshows don’t work for top of the funnel lead generation. And let’s face it, TOFU leads are way better than BOFU leads because you can shape the deal without competitors.

b2b buyer, referral software

Content marketing – There is no question that good content that addresses a problem I or other b2b buyers have will be eye catching. But it has to be really good. No fluff. No product pushing. Give me real data I can use or specific action items I can take to solve my problems. But even if you create the perfect piece of content, you are still just crossing your fingers that it reaches me. For content marketing to work, it has to be combined with influencer marketing to have a hope of getting in front of the intended audience.

referral software, b2b buyer

Account Based Marketing/Selling – I’ve been a big fan for over a decade of identifying target accounts and developing campaigns to go after them. Now there are software solutions that make this a bit less manual to do so it feels new again. Fundamentally, this targeting helps the efficacy of the above sales and marketing efforts. If you can create content that is more targeted to your buying personas or better yet account-specific content, this has a much better chance of getting my attention. And if a seller is researching me, engaging with me in social media, learning about my business and personalizing their approach there is a much greater chance they’ll get my attention. But remember, I don’t read emails nor answer my phone so direct mail and social media are the only options here and unfortunately many companies are “adopting” ABM/ABS playbooks and skipping these more resource intensive steps.

b2b buyer, referral software

Referral Marketing/Selling – Salespeople (particularly those who are good “farmers”) inherently understand that an introduction is the best way to get business into their pipeline. As a buyer, there is no question that this is the most effective way to get my attention. If I’m approached by a former colleague or a trusted adviser (like a salesperson from a vendor I have a good relationship with), I pay attention. If they tell me there is a solution out there that could solve my problems, I’m clearing my calendar to take a meeting. The good news for sales and marketing is that the process for referrals can be done at scale thanks to business-focused referral software. Marketers can establish referral programs to leverage partners, influencers or even customers to make peer-to-peer introductions of your solution to their network.

While not a separate go-to-market approach, it is worth mentioning that a combination of ABS and Referral Selling is highly effective. When your sellers are armed with their target accounts, they can have a conversation with a customer or partner to specifically ask for an introduction into a particular contact at a particular account. The more specific the ask, the higher the rate of success.

The buyer has changed and sales and marketing have to change their approach if they want to drive revenue growth.

I’m sure I’ll still get 20+ calls and emails tomorrow that I’ll immediately delete, but here’s hoping that next week it decreases. To see research on the B2B buyer journey and how to adapt to it try reading the blog, How to adapt to a more complex B2B buyer journey.