How Marketing Can Motivate Sales (and vice versa)

We’ve all heard about the importance of sales and marketing alignment. It makes for a better business, it grows revenue, and overall it makes everyone happier.

But what does sales and marketing alignment have to do with a referral strategy? A lot, as it turns out.

It’s no secret that referral programs perform better when sales gets involved. Statistics show that, with sales involvement, leads convert to deals ten percent more often in partner referral channels and seventeen percent more often in customer referral channels. When it comes to seeing actual results from a referral channel, sales involvement is key.

But the impact of strong marketing on a referral channel can’t be ignored, either. You do, in fact, need both of these teams to be working at the top of their game in order to get results. And how do you get them working their best?

You get them working together.

Getting Sales Involved in Referrals

Engaging sales in a referral channel sounds easy on the surface. But there are actually a few ways that you can go about it, and figuring out what is the best for your channel will take some strategic thinking.

The first step is to figure out if you’re involving direct or indirect sales. This will help you get an idea of the general shape of your program.

Then, there are a few options. One is to take a direct to individuals approach, which is where an individual such as a customer, influencer, small agent, small business or employee would refer business directly to you. Another is a to-and-through strategic alliance, where you make an alliance with a company that enables their employees to refer business to you. There is also the to-and-through partner network, which is where managed partners can enable their employees to make referrals.

Whatever you choose, your sales team should be part of the equation. They will be the ones helping you recruit and keep customers, alliances, and partners referring.

But it isn’t enough to just tell your sales team about your channel. You need to get them excited about it, too. And a big part of doing that is promoting your referral program — marketing it, in other words. And this is where your marketing team comes in.

Getting Marketing Involved

When many people hear the words “referral” and “marketing” together, they don’t think of involving promotional teams. They think of referrals as a type of marketing, which is perfectly true! But many don’t understand just how entwined a referral channel and a marketing team is.

Referrals can fit into just about any partner channel marketers are actively using. That means, no matter what, your marketing team will be a part of your channel. Instead of having this deter sales from getting involved, you should use it to your advantage.

Promoting your referral program is an important part of a channel’s success, and it doesn’t end one or two or ten days after you start the program. It should, in fact, continue to go throughout the life of your channel.

And just as you’re promoting to partners and customers, you need to be promoting to sales, too. Remind them of why they’re doing what they’re doing, and make sure you’re promoting your successes to them, as well! The more they can see the positive effect that the referral channel is having, the more they’ll be able to be involved in it.

This will cause a positive feedback loop, where marketing will have more positive things to say, which will bolster sales even further. And that will make your referral channel more effective than ever.

How to build a referral culture within your sales team [Interview]

As discussed in part 1 of the interview series with Mike Garrison, referral selling expert and President of Garrison Sales Consulting, building a referral culture requires leadership. But this includes leadership within individual departments. Here Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity and Mike dive into how to develop a referral culture within sales in order to create a predictable referral selling system that grows revenue.

 

How to instill a referral culture within your sales team – Interview

Trisha: Hi, I’m Trish Winter, CMO of Amplifinity and today I’ve got Mike Garrison with me who is a business coach with a ton of referral selling expertise. Thank you for joining me today Mike.

Mike: Hey, it’s my pleasure. You know I hate talking.

Trisha: Oh yeah. So this is our second conversation. Last time we talked we were talking about  referral culture and why it’s such an important initiative top down at an organization. Today I really wanted us to dive into a particular department and that’s sales. Because that is usually the first thing that everybody thinks about when they think about referrals. It’s the salesperson asking for that referral. But let’s talk about what really a referral culture means to the sales department.

Mike: Sweet! I love sales. In fact I used to have a URL called I Love Sales Coaching.

Trisha: Really?

Mike: I have issues. I have like 30 domain names. I just keep buying them. It’s like my hobby. But anyways when you get down to the sales culture it’s not just about getting. Salespeople – you can’t be predators. In the new social and digital world your customers can and will vet you all along the referral pipeline and sales funnel. So understand that you can’t just be taking but also giving.  And I know that’s a challenge, but that’s what it get down to with salespeople, you can’t just care about the deal. If you’re still trying to sell product this is not going to work for you.

And you know, I was just thinking Trish about the video we did last time and how it’s so much about leadership. Leadership isn’t restricted to the C-level. Leadership is required in referrals because you’ve got at a minimum three people involved. You’ve got the salesperson, the referral source and the prospect. And the way that you create a referral culture as a salesperson is you stop thinking in terms of getting and you start thinking in terms of leading. Treat it like your own a mini organization. You have to start asking yourself a few questions. What is necessary for my career? What is necessary for me to be growth oriented in a sustainable way? You can’t be just running outside going hunting with a spear and stabbing something. You’ve got to think about farming too.

Trisha: So I totally love the concept of leadership within an individual salesperson. But let’s talk about the sales manager, that sales VP right?  You know if you’re truly going to embrace referrals as a culture, referrals is a strategy that the sales team is going to do. And by the way that we all know they need to do because traditional selling is not working. You can’t just dial a certain number of dials a day and expect that you’re going to break through the noise. You’ve got to get that warm introduction in order to do that. But how does a sales leader approach that with their team?

Mike: Great question. So here is some good news, if you work with Amplfiinity, you’re not going to get fired by having a referral based sales function because you’re going to have technology and automation which is going to create inbound stuff that you really want. Hey sales leaders, Amplifinity makes the marketing department your friend. So enough of the shameless plugs. I love it because I work at the top of the pipeline. That’s how you and I met. I was one of the people who was like, you guys are perfect. You take care of the inbound stuff and move referrals with the salespeople to the top of the pipeline.

So here is the good news sales managers – you’ve got to be a leader. Here’s the bad news – you’ve got to be a leader. And what that means is referrals can’t be based on emotions. You’re going to have to create or work with other folks like me and Trisha. You’re going to have to create systems that move your salespeople from referrals are a done deal to referrals are an introduction to a prospect that wouldn’t talk to me otherwise. And then you’re going to need to help the salespeople figure out how to move people through a buyer’s journey without hard selling them on product. So while it’s not easier, the bright side is you may have just discovered the #1 secret to job security as a sales manager. That means all of a sudden you get to do what you’re best at – coaching your salespeople. They’re going to need it and appreciate it, and you’re going to be profitable. But we got to eliminate emotion as the reason people refer because it’s not true.

Trisha:  I completely agree. And fundamentally there’s also the aspect of making sure you’re driving the right behavior in your team.

Mike: Absolutely!

Trisha: But you still have to have accountability and metrics and measurement.  And one of my favorite things that I’ve observed sales leadership within a referral culture do is assign ownership. And this is a concept you can track within your CRM.  You assign ownership between that sales rep and that referral source.

Mike: You have to.

Trisha: And when you do you can measure and drive the sales team to certainly recruiting more referral sources but also asking on a regular basis in the right way, doing a give-get with those referral sources to drive those high-quality leads in and even routing those leads back to the sales rep that owns it to organically  incentivize your team and help to build that referral culture. That way you are saying that if you treat this referral source – customer, partner, influencer, whoever that person is, if you treat them well and they refer someone who might not be in your territory or you might not be up next in the round robin or whatever your lead routing rules are, you say they are referring them because they like the relationship they have with me as the salesperson. So because of it that’s going to come right back to me, that’s a great way a sales leader can set up a system to organically motivate their team to build this referral strategy and referral culture.

Mike: I could not agree more. And I would say that the importance of it goes beyond what you just said. A real referral culture makes sure that you’re never taking all the time. That you’re giving. And if you do the traditional round robin and take the referrals and have them handled by other sales reps that the referral sources don’t know, two horrible things happen. One, you make communication more complex. That’s not profitable. Just think about what you’re doing. You’re demanding more and more communication from a diverse network. It’s not effective.

The second thing is that you’re dramatically restricting the ability of your sales reps, the marketing team, and the customer experience team to develop the kind of insight that will drive giving referrals. Right?

That’s why I love Amplifinity. With their referral software they can automate so much of the easy stuff and predict the surprises so the sales team can focus on the high level relationship development. Which, no slam against marketing, but the people that aren’t in the market won’t respond but they will always respond to a peer. That’s how you get those appointments you would never get otherwise. I’m not talking about dials. I’m talking about appointments. And this is where sales leadership comes in. It is not good enough to just get referrals. Those referrals need to result in appointments. And maybe not selling appointments traditionally where you’re selling your product, but if your referrals aren’t resulting in at least a phone call or conversation then they might need some work. And here’s the good news sales leaders, you can do this.

Trisha: Absolutely. I think this is so critical. I preach to my sales team all the time. Guys I don’t pick up my phone anymore. I don’t even look at prospecting emails that come through. You can’t reach me that way. And this is just a fact of life at this point in time which means that sales folk and marketers need to approach this in a different way. And I think the beauty of going back to the way it has always been done for eons is I’m going to trust something because I have a peer – a trusted adviser, making a recommendation to me.

Mike: It is almost like this has been going on for thousands of year. It is crazy right?

Trisha: Oh yeah!

Mike: So I’ve got a little hint. You ready?

Trisha: Yeah

Mike: This is a new one for you. Okay, so, how many of your sales reps in your career have nurtured a relationship with you to get referrals from you?

Trisha: ZERO!

Mike: That is so stupid!

Trisha: Yes!

Mike: Right, so here’s the referral culture sale leaders. Sit down with the marketing department and find out who they are and what they’re about. They’re building relationships all the time. And if you’re a salesperson at Amplifinity . . . (shake head) why wouldn’t you as sales leaders develop a relationship with the people who are best suited to message and interact with those at the top of the pipeline? Why aren’t you getting referrals from the best people in the organization? I think we all know why. It is because you have labeled them into the inbound side. You’ve decided that they don’t know how to sell. That is all caca.

Trisha: Yeah.

Mike: I’m just saying if you’re not getting referrals, not leads, referrals. If you’re not getting referrals from the marketing department shame on you.

Trisha: I definitely think that if we’re advising sales and sales leadership on how to build a referral culture in sales that taking your head of marketing out to lunch having a real conversation about how you align together on driving a referral strategy is absolutely a top of the list thing for a sales leader to do.

Mike: And that all good. But that person has to network. I would be asking them for referrals.

Trisha: Absolutely.

Mike: If you don’t you’re an idiot. CEOs . . . you can’t have that. Those two people should be doing referrals back and forth. I know it happens at Amplifinity.

Trisha: It does. And I think fundamentally as we all begin to own the revenue objective for the company, and back to when we were talking about the CEO. The CEO needs ever single executive in every single department to be owning the revenue objective. And as soon as you embrace that and the different executive titles start asking, ‘What can I do?’, you’ll notice the people in your network that you are connected to that are fits for target buyers that you are all aiming your quivers at.

Mike: I’ve got one more. Are you ready for it?

Trisha: Yeah, go for it.

Mike: If you’re a sales leader and you and your sales team aren’t connected on every social channel with everyone is marketing and customer experience, you’re a double idiot.

Trisha: True. So let me sum up the key points we’ve been talking about here as far as driving a referral culture within sales:

  • Fundamentally there’s got to be an attitude of give-get not an old school predatory attitude.
  • Sales leadership has to really think about driving to different metrics. Not about dials-a-day but rather meaningful conversations that are driving referrals into meetings but still metrics.
  • Ensure that you consider lead-routing and what that means so you are preserving that relationship and the fruit of that relationships. The meetings with those prospects need to be handled in the right way as opposed to switching it over to a third party.
  • Certainly there is an entire set of employees out there within your organization that can help you to build your referral network and that can help you to drive interest and activity.
  • And of course align with marketing which is something I would like to talk to you next time we are together. It is going to be a key step for any sales leader. This is a great way to align and together show that marketing and sales are working together to drive their revenue objective

Did I sum that up okay?

Mike: Yep. That’s awesome!

Trisha: Wonderful! Well, until next time when we will dive into marketing’s role in building a referral culture. Thanks so much Mike!

Mike: Thanks Trisha! Take care.

 

Resources with link to to resource page with referral program ideas

How to measure against new customer referral program benchmarks

Impactful, strategy-changing customer engagement and referral program data just hit the market this past week. This data comes from the release of the new report, The State of Business Customer Referral Programs, and the webinar, Customers: Your most important source of demand, with Lisa Nakano, Service Director Customer Engagement Strategies at SiriusDecisions. In the webinar Lisa discussed how customers need to be leveraged to impact demand via advocacy and referrals.

Based on that claim, it is interesting to investigate how customer referral programs are performing this crucial task and the success rate of referrals by companies running customer referral programs. This includes:

What is the average customer referral activity a company can expect?

In the recent study done by Amplifinity based on millions of referrals made by business customers on the Amplifinity platform during the course of a year, it was determined that on average only 36% of customers are actively referring throughout the year.  On average this was 2,106 customers making referrals out of the average enrolled in the referral program, 5,850.

customer engagement, referrals, customer referrals

While the 36% may seem low, it is important to understand that this data is over the course of year, not the lifetime of the customer. That means that this percentage can also be attributed to how long customers have been enrolled in a program. Bottom line, there are a lot of willing customer advocates that need to be reengaged with to keep them active.

How high-quality are the leads that come from customer advocates?

Many times companies assume the easier the referral method, the more a customer advocate will engage within a referral program and the more new customers will be generated. This assumption isn’t necessarily true. Here is how the different types of referral methods rank in popularity.

Most Commonly Used Referral Methods

As the chart illustrated, social media is the most used referral method even though it is was discovered that only 50% of referral programs offer it in the study. However, a referral from social media converted from lead to new customer less than 1% of the time. While referring in social media can be easy, this study showed that for business customers, a broad social blast doesn’t work for referrals. This is most likely because these aren’t one-to-one direct referrals from a trusted source. Therefore, while this type of referral is good to build awareness, it loses its power to generate demand.

The importance of that one-to-one interaction is further expanded on by Lisa Nakano when analyzing ADP’s demand generation tactics.  In the webinar, Customers: Your most important source of demand, Lisa explains how many companies today have challenges with demand generation, because no matter how many times they email prospects or create targeted nurture campaigns their prospects only trusted what their peers tell them. To combat this Lisa told listeners ADP’s solution, “They [ADP] turned to Amplifinity as their partner and used referral marketing to bring in the positive word-of-mouth and activity to feed demand.”

Looking at the opposite spectrum from social media, the verbal referral method was only used 13% of the time but was the top source of conversion with 32% of referral leads converting to new customers. It also had a higher inclusion rate in customer referral programs, coming in at 54.4%.

Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity predicts the continual rise of inclusion and use of verbal referrals, “Even though verbal referrals is fourth in overall use, this is a fast growing referral method thanks to new referral program technology introduced in 2016 that allows referrals to be captured from sales and customer success via Salesforce CRM. We predict verbal referrals will climb in adoption and usage in 2017.”

A large reason for verbal referrals having such a high conversion rate besides it being a one-to-one referral is that this method includes sales which increase conversions significantly. But more on that later.

What impacts referral program conversion rates?

The success of referrals has come a long way. Previous to the study done by Amplifinity, a B-to-B referral industry standard conversion rate of 3.63% was established by Salesforces’ Implisit. But the management and automation of a customer referral program has brought industry conversion rates to a whole new level. On average, customer referrals made on the Amplifinity referral platform had a 13% conversion rate.

This is over 3x the referral industry standard determined by the Implisit study. This drastic increase in the success of referrals can be attributed to establishing referrals as a channel for demand generation as opposed to an ad hoc campaign.  By automating programs to collect referrals at scale, companies are able to remove breakage and operational hassle so marketers can refocus their efforts on the promotion and optimization of the program.

Lisa Nakano commented on ADP’s referral conversion rate, saying “They [ADP] had some very nice results with this once they started understanding what they needed to do to activate their advocacy community. Referrals became their number one source of new demand. The conversion was amazing in terms of how quickly folks worked their way through the funnel and the percentage that converted.”

How does enabling referral selling change the referral conversion rate?

The Amplifinity report showed that enabling referral selling produced even better results. On average, a referral program that enabled sales to actively recruit new customers to the program, generate referrals from customers, qualify referrals through customers, and receive a facilitated introduction from customers more than doubled the average conversion rate. In fact, referral selling increased the average conversion rate by 17 percentage points, with a 30% average conversion rate.

This helps explain why verbal referrals were the highest converting method as it is a referral method enabled by sales.

The increase in conversions that referral selling delivers is a result of it being a further extension of the one-to-one referral. By enabling referral selling and breaking lead routing rules the trust that exists between the customer and their referral, and the customer and their salesperson can also be used to connect the customer advocate’s referral to their trusted salesperson. This way, any referral from the customer advocate will be automatically sent to that customer’s salesperson.

As an example of how the power referral sales enablement can contribute to demand generation, Trisha Winter pointed to ADP, saying, “ADP has stated they have higher customer satisfaction/NPS scores for customers who are advocates with them making referrals. Because they break lead routing rules, this naturally incentivizes sales to work on that relationship with that customer and have really great engagement.”

For more information on referral selling and another take on the Amplifinity data, read the article The Best Way to Ask Your Customers for Referrals, by Mike Garrison, an expert in training sales on how to increase ROI through referral selling,

How rewarding are referral incentives to customers?

There has always been much debate over incentivizing referrals. For the most part, everyone now understands that the effort a customer puts into making the referral and following up on the referral, whether that is by helping sales qualify them or making an introduction, needs to be compensated like any type of work. The question now is, what reward amount should be offered to customers that is enough to incentivize them but isn’t prohibitive to the ROI?

Looking at the data, reward payments for the customer programs ranged from $20 – $2,500. The data was analyzed based on actual reward payments since many programs have varying reward amounts by product purchased or offer a percentage of revenue.

Overall, the most popular and most successful reward was between $41 – $100. But you shouldn’t take this to mean that a reward amount of $41 will drive referral success. In fact, the vast majority of these rewards were $100. While the overall average reward amount for customer referral programs came in at $111.

While this data might mean to some that they can provide a lower reward amount and still get results, that isn’t quite the case. Rewards must be provided to customer advocates not only as compensation for the amount of work they put into the referral but also based on the cost they are asking their referrals to spend. As the cost for a referral to buy goes up, there is more often greater success with a revenue sharing system, like Lisa Nakano talks about ADP in the webinar. While the data may show the success rate as lower for rewards above $100, that can be attributed to the natural decrease in the conversion rate of any higher priced service or product.

For another take on this new referral reward data read, Successful Referral Programs Offer Escalating Incentives to Drive Customer Engagement, by Loyalty360.

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

  • All the referral methods from frequency of inclusion to conversion
  • The success of higher reward amounts
  • How many referrals you can expect from each customer over a year
  • The success rate of the top 1% of advocates
  • And more

referral program, customer referral program, referral software

8 Stats/Quotes that prove referral software speeds up your sales pipeline

How Salespeople can close leads faster with referral software

B2B salespeople don’t have it easy. Take the stress of survival and the monotonous repetition of a time loop from the movie, Edge of Tomorrow and you have a sense of a salesperson’s job. While salespeople can generally deal with the pressures their job entails, the lengthening of the sales pipeline has made it increasingly difficult. A great deal of effort is spent on finding a way to speed up the sales pipeline in an attempt to increase sales productivity and therefore revenue. But the simplest solution is to improve the quality of the leads entering the pipeline. Companies that have realized this are turning to referral software to scale collection of the fastest moving leads through the pipeline.

By itself, a referral comes in more qualified and so decreases the sales cycle as a result of:

  • The lead being handpicked by someone who knows your product and the value it can bring.
  • The prospective buyer coming to you from a trusted source makes them 400% more likely to buy, (Nielsen).
  • The salesperson knowing the person who made the referral which gives them the ability to call them up, learn more about the prospect and get a warm introduction.
  • Prospects who come in via a referral tend to bring less competitors into the buying cycle as they already trust that your solution is the best choice since it was recommended to them.

By adding referral software to the mix it increases the number of referral leads that come in and shortens the sales cycle further by automating incentives, nurturing, and attribution of the referral lead. It also provides advanced customer and partner insight, along with aligning sales and marketing in one program. The sales enablement that referral software facilitates syncs up marketing and sales data and allows sales to add precision to their sales strategies to organize leads by quality and pursue them. This gives Sales the tools to close more deals faster and reduce the sales pipeline.

But don’t just take my word for it. Below are ten stats and quotes that prove referral software speeds up the sales pipeline.

Prove referral software shortens the sales cycle with 8 stats/quotes

  • Companies that are “Optimizing the marketing/sales relationship grow revenue 32% faster than companies that do not. As a result the most competitive sales teams are enabled by marketing, and the most competitive marketing teams are completely in sync with sales.” (Aberdeen, In Marketing/Sales Alignment 2016: Who is Agile Enough to Win?)
  • Pipeline acceleration strategies benefit from quicker sales cycles. Advocacy can help improve overall productivity for the sales force, enabling a much more efficient sales selling environment and helping sales close more deals, which is what they want to do,” (Bob Peterson, Senior Research Director, SiriusDecisions, How to Climb to Smarketing Success).
  • By implementing technology that empowers a 360 degree customer view there was, “13.2% average year-over-year decrease in (improvement in) the average sales cycle time, vs. 1.0% and 1.9% respective increase in (worsening of) sales cycles for Industry Average and Laggard respondents.” (Velocify, How Best-in-Class Sales Teams Convert More Leads).
  • Partnership relationship/channel management technology users report a lead acceptance rate that increased by 3.6% year-over-year compared to a decrease of 0.1% by non-users decrease, (Aberdeen, Sales Effectiveness 2015: How in the world are we going to hit our number?).
  • “Customer advocacy can support demand generation by increasing the velocity of identified deals. Referral deals move faster through the pipeline,” (Bob Peterson, Senior Research Director, SiriusDecisions, How to Climb to Smarketing Success).
  • Partnership relationship/channel management technology users report reps achieving their quota increases by 3.3% year-over-year compared to 0.4% of non-users, (Aberdeen, Sales Effectiveness 2015: How in the world are we going to hit our number?).

Prove the value referral software can have on your sales pipeline. Try out the ROI calculator now to discover how referral software can dramatically increase your sales productivity and revenue.

ROI Calculator

Originally published on Salesforce.com

The 3 C’s of sales and marketing alignment (smarketing)

Everyone understands that sales and marketing alignment (or smarketing) is a good thing. But the reality is that most organizations are a ways off from the VPs of Marketing and Sales being besties. I believe if organizations truly understand the value and have a clear path to get there, it will happen. Enter the 3 C’s of Smarketing: Communication, Coordination and Collaboration.

Communication: Start creating purposeful dialogue between sales and marketing

smarketing

Marketing and sales have to communicate to get their jobs done. But to start to create optimal efficiency, more detailed communication needs to happen. Organizations need to have clear definitions of what sales is looking for in a lead so that marketing can create campaigns accordingly, which is an awesome first step toward solid alignment. If you don’t yet have this, invite your counterpart to lunch and start the discussion. Bring data to review why some leads were followed up on and others weren’t. Look at new customers that went through the pipeline the fastest and keep an eye out for commonalities.

Once you have a common understanding, get it all down in writing so you have agreed upon definitions. Then make sure you can track to these stages and measure conversions from lead to sales accepted (or Sales Qualified Lead – SQL). Ideally, you’ll also have a stage in between for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) so that marketing can scrub out anything that clearly doesn’t meet the qualifications of what sales wants before you send the leads over the wall.

Coordination: Continually optimize  the outcome of sales and marketing efforts

coordination

Once you’ve got clear lead definitions, it’s time to create a feedback loop for continuous improvement. This means getting sales and marketing leadership together on a regular basis to review results and make changes in lead definitions or even campaign spend according to the feedback. Many organizations do this on a quarterly basis as “QBRs” or “Interlocks”.

No matter what fancy name you give to these meetings, make sure both departments understand the purpose and what they need to bring to the meeting. These meetings become worthless after 1-2 sessions if it is just marketing showing data and asking for feedback from sales. BOTH sides need to come with data and be prepared to explain what the data is saying.

Here’s how. Create some dashboard reports that both teams can access for the following data:

  • Highest and lowest performing campaigns for the quarter in terms of SQLs, Opps and Closed Won (6 different reports)
  • Highest and lowest performing inside sales reps (or telemarketers) for the quarter in terms of conversions to SQLs, Opps and Closed Won (6 different reports)

Both parties should analyze this data before the coordination meeting and come prepared with feedback from their teams on why they think those were the results. Having the analysis and team input take place before the meeting (from both sides) will make these meetings more successful. As you mature in this process, you may be able to set goals for conversion rates and use that as a bar to analyze what campaigns over or under performed.

Collaboration: Get significant revenue growth by working toward the same goal

collaboration

So now that you have great communication and you are meeting regularly to obtain coordination, what more could you possibly achieve? The answer is collaboration. In this stage, the lines between marketing and sales start to intentionally get fuzzy. Marketing starts doing things that fall in the sales realm and sales starts getting involved in marketing programs, otherwise known as smarketing. With smarketing, the offices of the VPs of Sales and Marketing are next door to each other and they might even report to a centralized executive like a Chief Revenue Officer responsible for both marketing and sales.

While this may sound like a scary alternative dimension, when you start smarketing, it’s totally awesome! This stage means the end to the blaming as sales and marketing are truly working together to achieve the mutual goal of growing the company. Marketing bonus plans are on revenue, not leads. There is mutual respect, because these groups are in tight alignment.

So how can a company achieve this nirvana? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. At the heart of smarketing collaboration is sales and marketing working together on a common program. This means designing the program together, promoting it together and tracking results together. This is the essence of smarketing.

The most effective program to achieve smarketing collaborative alignment is a referral marketing program. While sales already gets that referrals are their highest quality lead, most sales folks don’t ask often enough or have a “give-get” to offer. With help from marketing through a referral marketing program, sales can not only get more referrals, but turn referrals into their most productive lead source. In fact, data from customer referral marketing programs running on the Amplifinity referral platform shows an average conversion from lead to purchase of 13%, 10X over referral industry standard and 17X over marketing lead standard according to an Implisit study.

And when Amplifinity customer referral software enables sales to take an active role in the referral process, the average conversion rate rises to 30%. This is possible through referral software that enables collaboration between sales and marketing by integrating into the sales CRM to allow marketing to create the brand message for the program and sales to help execute on it.  This permits marketing to extend its lead generation team to customers or partners who can connect your message to target buyers in their networks.

Bottom line – This scalable personalized lead generation works so well because it is backed by both marketing AND sales.

If you’d like to learn more about achieving smarketing, I recommend this paper from Marketing Profs: How to Climb to Smarketing Success: A maturity model for sales and marketing alignment.

If you’d like to learn how to start a referral program that encourages sales and marketing collaboration, check out the page, referral software for Salesforce to maximize the value of Salesforce and create a highly charged revenue source.

Salesforce referral program

Care to further the discussion? Tweet me @Trishawinter

Originally published on Salesforce

SMB Telecoms become tele-competitive with referral software

A revolution is taking place. One that might have very similar roots as the all-so-famous Revolutionary War. But what does this mean?  Well, in many areas of the country and the world, large telecommunication conglomerates have the monopoly on their telecom industry. Customers have only a few choices in their television, Internet, email, or phone service provider. In any way that matters, these telecommunication companies are essentially king.

So how are small and medium sized telecom businesses and newer technology driven technology driven telecoms supposed to convince customers to riot and switch over to them? Well, as you yourself may have experienced or heard from others, smaller customers don’t always feel well-cared for by the kings, and while they might provide great prices at first (this usually changes later),  many people have become frustrated and disenchanted with their unapologetic treatment of customers.

This alienation of customers leaves an opening for SMB telecoms. While SMB Telecoms  might not be able to match the pricing of the telecom kings, you can provide something that people and business are ready to revolt for, a personalized customer experience.

How RingCentral personalized their customer experience

RingCentral delivers cloud business communication solutions with a relationship focused sales approach. The success of their business depends on keeping every interaction extremely personalized. In their blog, RingCentral’s Sales Organization: Building Success by Building Relationships, they emphasize how building a relationship with customers is a necessary part of their business model.

To keep to this relationship focused approach, from the first phone call RingCentral starts their interaction on a positive note, which they believe can make all the difference in fostering a fruitful relationship. If your sales team demonstrates how they care for their potential customers and understand their pain points you can start to establish a relationship that builds to a sale.

For RingCentral this often pays off when pursuing a company that has more than one location. RingCentral noted that the previous fostered relationship then opens the doors for a client to test out their product in one location, and when it succeeds, the company often revolts against the previous telecom technology and fully implements RingCentral’s technology instead.

RingCentral claims that this success is “a direct result of our relationship-building efforts.”

And because RingCentral had proof of the power of a relationship focused sales approach they understood what the next step was to their approach – referrals. With small and medium sized telecom business increasingly focused on customer relationships, why not grow your business through mass personalization by incentivizing the customers who already know how valuable your product is? RingCentral thought along the same lines, and that’s why they implemented Amplifinity’s referral software to make their customers their best sales force.

The next step to relationship building sales – referrals

Referral software is the next weapon to spur the masses in the customer relationship revolution. Referral software mobilizes the customers you already have by incentivizing them to become advocates for your service or product. By empowering referrals with referral software you extend the trust between an advocate and their network of family and friends to include your business. The result of this is a drastic increase in your quantity of quality leads.

In fact, with referral software:

  • Customers are 400% more likely to buy (Nielsen)
  • Leads convert 4X better than marketing leads (emarketer)
  • LTV increases by 16% (Harvard Business Review)
  • Conversion rate from referral to purchase is 36% (Amplifinity)
  • Churn decreases by 18% (Marketing Business Review)

Discover your personal referral program ROI with the ROI calculator now!

CTA_ROI_calculator_v1

Questions? Email me at JEdmondson@amplifinity.com