How marketing can get sales asking for referrals

Innovative . . . at one point being described this way by an industry expert would have given a company a huge differentiation. But in the past few years the title of innovator has become less of a differentiation and more of a requirement in business in order to even compete in an overcrowded ecosystem. While innovation can be broadly defined, when talking about innovation it is usually referring to the reinventing of business process, structure, or model.  One area this has been evident is in the sales and marketing arena. Between marketing taking majority responsibility for lead generation and sales becoming key to the success of marketing initiatives like referrals, the inclusion of sales enablement functionality within marketing programs has become vital. In fact, Hubspot discovered that sales and marketing misalignment costs companies $1 trillion per year in decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts.

Referral marketing programs have become an established way to generate leads, and have even been called innovative. But in order to take referrals to the next level and make them a transformative lead generation initiative, marketers need a technological catalyst that can align sales with marketing and motivate sales to generate more marketing leads by asking for referrals.

Here are three ways to accomplish this task.

3 ways to motivate sales to increase referral leads

  1. Promote your referral program to sales

When thinking about promoting a referral program or any program, companies generally don’t include a campaign to sales in the promotional strategy. But like with customers and partners, sales is an integral part of a referral program and that means they need to be engaged in it.  Many times what happens with a referral program is sales doesn’t feel driven enough to start or continue asking for referrals. And if the referral program isn’t implemented as a strategic channel worked by marketing AND sales it could be forgotten about. One company who understood the need for sales to be an engaged is Cable One Business. At launch, Cable One Business:

  • Had an email blast targeted at associates that emphasized the value of the program
  • Made program specific branding to give the referral program a recognizable look to salespeople
  • Put up flyers around the offices that had details about the referral program to create awareness and understanding
  • Hung flyers in the bathroom with the theme of cheesy pickup lines that would teach sales how to start asking for referrals

Through Cable One Business’s promotion to their sales teams they were able to successfully align sales and marketing goals in the referral program.

  1. Structure your referral program to incentivize sales

For companies that have run a referral program they know that along with being motivated by loyalty, advocates are motivated by incentives. When asking for referrals, salespeople are no different. Salespeople have a hard job and high quotas to fulfill. So what do they get out of taking some of their precious time and using it for a marketing owned program? Well, by instituting a program that can enable advocate ownership, sales can overrides the normal lead routing rules. This way any referrals that come from the advocates owned by a specific salesperson will go to that salesperson instead of keeping with regular lead routing rules. The referral functionality motivates sales to invite and nurture customers to become engaged advocates while working their referrals. This then becomes another means to meet quotas and get sales commissions. By aligning sales and marketing goals within the referral program a company can drastically increase revenue. Hubspot discovered that companies whose sales and marketing teams are aligned generated 208% higher marketing revenue when compared against misaligned teams.

In addition to implementing this type of functionality, many companies have also made referrals a part of sales team’s quota incentive. Cable One Business offered their salespeople a $4,000 incentive if they hit certain revenue goals which included submitting at least 4 referrals.

  1. Make it easy for sales to take part in the referral program

A company can promote and incentivize their sales team all they want, but if it isn’t easy to see advocate and referral data, and recruit and nurture customers, they aren’t going to put the effort in. This is where having the referral program data and functionality integrated into the sales CRM is critical. It’s not surprising that Aberdeen found that salespeople spend up to 43 hours/month trying to find information. To put this in perspective, that is 10.75 hours a week, and over one day of work. A referral program shouldn’t add to that struggle. By having a sales enabled referral program, sales has access to everything they need in their CRM instead of having to search through multiple programs and locations to find it. This includes functionality and data such as:

  • 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
  • Ability to input trackable verbal referrals for both registered and unregistered advocates
  • See lead source as a referral

Aberdeen proved that companies with top-tier sales enablement strategies experience 13.7% annual increase in deal size. Discover what a sales enabled referral program will do for your ROI. Try the ROI calculator now!