Proactive Customer Referrals: How We Took Control And Got 100+ High-Quality Leads

Truman Tang

Customer referrals are the gold standard of sales leads.

According to the Wharton School of Business, the lifetime value of a referred customer is 16% higher than that of a customer who came through another channel. Referred leads will buy more of your products, stay with you for the long term and recommend you to others.

So, how can you get more referrals?

We recently asked ourselves the same question.

We didn’t want a flood of low-quality referrals. We wanted to closely align our advocate marketing program with our sales goals and target very specific prospects.

So, we created a referral challenge in our AdvocateHub. It shows our advocates people they are connected to on LinkedIn and asks if they would be willing to introduce us. After all, you are almost five times more likely to schedule a first meeting with someone if you have a personal LinkedIn connection in common.

Our advocates have the option to say “no” if they don’t feel comfortable making the referral, or don’t know the person that well. If they say “yes”, we give them 500 points that they can later redeem for items such as charitable donations or swag. Advocates also get value from reconnecting with their peers and strengthening industry relationships by sharing their expertise in advocate marketing.

Here’s what the challenge looks like:


This simple “yes” or “no” question makes it easy for advocates to give us their stamp of approval. The challenge also allows us to hand-select prospects that we would like to get in touch with. Instead of waiting for referrals to come to us, we’re being proactive and controlling our own destiny.

So far, the referral challenge has brought us more than 100 high-quality referrals from our customers this year.

While it may seem pushy to reach out for an introduction, when you have a good relationship with your advocates, there’s no harm in asking for referrals.

Here are three ways you can get proactive and generate more high-quality referrals:

1. Explain the value of customer advocacy to your sales team.

Your sales team has its finger on the pulse of your customers, so it’s vital to get the team on board with your advocacy program. Educate sales reps about your program and show them your results. Let them know that they have the power to turn new accounts into advocates. When they roll out the red carpet, they can get new customers excited about working with you. Then, these customers will become advocates and refer others to you.

2. Help sales reps meet their quotas.

Sales reps are under constant pressure to bring in new accounts and meet their quotas. Help them achieve their goals by asking which prospects they want to get in touch with. Then, identify which of your advocates are connected to their top prospects. Since you already have a relationship with your advocates, you can ask for introductions to these prospects. Then, you can pass the relationship over to sales.

3. Build relationships with your advocates.

Your referral program won’t work unless you already have strong relationships with your advocates. And you won’t build these relationships if you always ask them to do stuff for you without offering anything back in return. One way to engage advocates is to give them educational or fun content. For example, you can offer them training on how to get more value from your product, or a fun quiz or trivia challenge. Once advocates log into your program, you can show them other asks—such as sharing your content on social media or sending you a referral. Your advocates have the option to ignore these asks and continue with fun quizzes and games. But, many of them will help you.

Posting referral requests in your advocate marketing program is a great way to “passively” collect new leads.

However, aligning your advocate marketing efforts with your sales goals by actively asking for referrals is a triple win because:

  1. Your sales team will get more high-quality leads and increase their quotas.
  2. Your advocate marketing program will deliver better results.
  3. Your advocates will receive points and recognition, and strengthen their network.

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11 Responses to Proactive Customer Referrals: How We Took Control And Got 100+ High-Quality Leads

  1. […] Jason knew that many of Verafin’s customers would be happy to recommend the fraud detection and anti-money laundering software to their peers. However, he didn’t have a program in place to drive referrals. […]

  2. […] You can make it even easier for customers to give a referral by combing through their social networks and asking for a specific introduction. This gives them the option to say yes or no, depending on how well they know the connection. We call these ‘proactive’ referrals, and we have a guide for doing them here. […]

  3. […] can also ask for specific introductions based on your customers’ online social networks. This way, they don’t have to think too hard […]

  4. […] Your customers aren’t mind readers. They’ll never know you want referrals unless you ask. […]

  5. […] triggered by an act of customer advocacy (such as writing a positive online review), or done pro-actively by a customer […]

  6. […] way to make the process easier is by proactively identifying people you want to meet on LinkedIn (ask your sales reps for help). See if they are connected to any of your advocates. Then, ask your […]

  7. […] is no clear process for requesting referrals, closing the feedback loop or rewarding customers. Collecting high-quality referrals is also difficult due to a lack of transparency and customer nurturing before and after the […]

  8. […] This is what we call “proactive customer referrals,” which is simply asking your advocates for introductions to high-quality prospects in their network. The reason they respond so well to these kinds of requests, instead of blanket requests for referrals is because they don’t have to think hard about who to refer to you. (Read this blog to learn more about this method). […]

  9. […] probably already familiar with the idea of referrals, but what about ‘proactive’ referrals? Look at the connections of your target accounts and see if there are advocates either within or […]

  10. […] to explain how advocacy will help each rep individually. For example, can your advocates send them referral leads that will turn into new sales? The more your reps see the benefits of advocacy, the more they will […]

  11. […] The key findings were that companies who proactively engage their advocates in referral and review programs see the highest ROI. […]

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