The words “innovative” and “large enterprise company” don’t often often end up in the same sentence. Change is hard, especially in huge organizations where lots of people are involved in the decision-making process.
However, by generating high-quality leads through a customer referral program, you’ll become a cross-departmental star!…If you can get everyone on board.


Here are four steps to building a successful enterprise referral program that will leave your organization wondering how they ever did without one.

1. Get buy-in from sales and marketing

First you need to identify and reach key decision makers. Your best bet is to go after sales and marketing leaders. Sales will love the potential influx of referrals, and marketing will have a role to play in encouraging customers to submit those referrals.

Since most large companies are risk-averse, you’ll need to highlight the benefits of a referral marketing program with some stats that prove an enterprise referral program will be an excellent source of fast-closing revenue.

Going after your whole organization in one fell swoop may be a bit much. Propose to test out your referral program on a small subset of customers first. Once you have results, you can use them to expand your program to other departments and products. Just make sure the test group consists of some of your happiest customers—A.K.A. your advocates. They will be more willing to refer you to their networks if they already love you.

2. Create cross-departmental alignment

Your internal champions (and, eventually, the whole organization) will want to see a plan for how your referral program will work.

So, create a workflow for the whole team—from the marketing team’s customer outreach, to asking advocates for referrals, to how the sales team will ultimately close the feedback loop on closed deals with your customer advocates. Here’s an example:

enterprise_referral_program_flowchartMarketing needs to own the referral experience (the outreach, submission process and rewards), while sales must work on keeping in touch with the advocate throughout the referral’s buying journey.

Easier said than done, right? Now it’s time to gather the tools that will make it possible.

3. Scale parts of the referral process

By automating parts of the process you’ll make it easy for your internal teams to follow the workflow.

  • Create simple a referral submission page where you can collect pertinent information your team will need. This page should include a clear overview of the referral process so advocates know how you will approach the prospect, when they can expect to receive updates and what rewards they’ll receive if their referral becomes a customer.
  • Send the responses to your CRMso your sales reps don’t have to enter another program to follow up on referrals.
  • Create a lead scoring system with your demand gen/sales ops team to help prioritize and qualify referrals.
  • Scale the “asking” part of the customer referral process by picking a spot customers normally frequent—such as your login page, email digests or advocate marketing program—to remind them to submit referrals consistently.
  • Automate referral status updates (if you can) via email to your advocates. It will save your sales reps time and effort  if it can be tied to your CRM, and keep advocates in the loop on the referral.

The key is balancing this automation with some personalization so your advocates don’t feel like they’re just a number. Which brings us to point #4…

4. Offer awesome rewards—that won’t blow your budget

Now that you’ve figured out how to create a seamless enterprise referral program, you need to ensure your advocates will want to consistently refer their peers. Start by thanking them every time they submit contact information. Then, reward them whenever their referral becomes a customer. (A little appreciation goes a long way!)

If you have a large customer base, these “rewards” may sound costly. However, the best gifts are those that can’t be bought. Give customers who submit the most or best referrals exclusive experiences and prizes—such as access to your C-suite, VIP treatment at your next event or priority support status. They’ll appreciate it more than another Starbucks gift card.

You can also run a contest where the advocate who submits the most referrals within a certain time frame wins one high-quality prize—which saves you cash and encourages advocates to refer as many people as possible.

Enterprise referral programs that scale

With a solid referral marketing strategy, your organization can leverage its customer advocates to find new business. The key to getting buy-in for it is by having a solid plan for your team, a great experience for your customers and the right technology to facilitate it.

The Little Black Book of B2B Referrals
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