Referral Programs: Make Your Customers Work for You

An effective referral program is worth the investment to help generate and close new business. B2B companies that have a referral program report a 70% higher conversion rate and a close time on sales that is 69% faster (Extole).

Choose an incentive structure

There are two main incentive structure options:

  1. Tiered Structure: The referrer gets increasing benefits for each additional referral in order to encourage and reward multiple successful contract referrals.
  2. Symbiotic Structure: Not only does the referrer get an incentive, but the referred party also receives an incentive.
    Bonus: Combination of both structures: The two structures above are not mutually-exclusive! Combine the two for maximum success.

Create a realistic referral process

A realistic referral process will depend on your sales team structure and sales process, but below are common tips to make any process smooth:

  1. Make a Webpage: Build a referral submission page on your website. It will give interested referrers a destination to learn more about the referral program and an easy way to submit names. It will also help you track referrals.
  2. Say “Thank You!”: Don’t forget to send the referrer a thank you email to confirm their submission.
  3. Reaching out to the referred party: A referral email should also be sent to the referred person. If a week goes by and the referred party still hasn’t scheduled an audit, the appropriate salesperson should send two follow-up emails and make a phone call to ensure that the referred party follows through.
  4. Define a “successful referral:” Ideally, you would only give referral rewards after a deal completely closes, but make sure your salespeople have a way to keep track of referred deals through the whole pipeline, and a way to note that a referral was successful. If that tracking is not available with your current CRM, consider choosing an earlier milestone like a one-off purchase or scheduling a consultation.
  5. Pick a gift card: You can give the referral rewards in a few different ways. There are many online companies that provide this service, and you can choose either a generic card design or branded design.
    • Credit toward a future purchase
    • Online eGift card or eVisa card
    • Physical gift card

Promote the new program

Your new referral program can be promoted through several communication channels.

  1. Email series to past customers
  2. Email series after a sale to a new customer
  3. Printed asset to hand out after a sale to a new customer
  4. Direct mail to past customers
  5. Dedicated website page
  6. Post on social media
  7. Display targeting to past customers

A successful referral program takes some planning and promotion, but your sales team will love having their past customers generate new business.