Dear Rachel,

What kind of referral marketing software should I buy? How will I know which one is right for me?

-Bumbling Buyer

Dear Bumbling,

I don’t like to play favorites…actually I do, but when it comes to referral marketing software, my favor can’t be bought. (So stop approaching me all the time, you referral solutions companies! I will NOT take millions of dollars to endorse your product!)

Instead, what I can offer you is a checklist of things to look for in your referral marketing software. Here’s the ideal list of elements it should have:

  1. A way to nurture customers before asking for a referral. No one will give you referrals unless they love you, and they need to understand the kind of referrals you want.
  1. A simple, seamless and enjoyable way for customers to submit referrals. Avoid awkward phone calls and emails by finding another way to consistently remind customers to submit referrals.
  1. Technology integrations with tools your sales team already uses for leads (like your CRM). Your referral follow-up process won’t be easy on your reps if it’s housed in yet another program or platform (or a Google document…)
  1. A way to inform customers of the status of their referral. They should receive updates as their referral passes through specific sales milestones, either by email or through a login page where they can check the status themselves.
  1. Automatic reward fulfillment for customers when a referral closes. If you forget to send them their reward when the deal closes, they won’t be likely to refer again. (And people hate asking where their gift is, lest they sound greedy.)

Sadly, this is a pretty tall order, and most referral marketing software solutions won’t stack up. You may need to supplement your referral submission process with an advocate marketing program. This exclusive hub for your best customers can do a few things your referral program likely can’t. By integrating the two into one strategy, you can:

  • Find your biggest advocates and prime them to give you high-quality referrals
  • Consistently remind customers to submit referrals when they log into your program
  • Make the referral submission and follow-up process easier on advocates and your reps (through program integration with your CRM)
  • Personalize rewards for your advocates—which will make them feel special and want to refer others again and again

You know how people always say they “just knew” when they met the one? Well, in the B2B world, it’s pretty tough to keep that lovin’ feeling alive with your referral program when your boss is breathing down your neck (not in a sensual way) to ask about the ROI of your referral efforts.

I can’t promise you that you’ll find a referral marketing software soulmate. But I do know that if you supplement it with a platform that nurtures customer advocates, it will be much more likely to make the love affair with your referral program last.

ask rachel: the referral relationship coachRachel-Headshot-icon




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