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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