Think about how you’d first hear of a product you wanted to buy, or a restaurant you were going to visit today VS. 15 years ago.
Now, we rely on the opinions of friends on social media—or strangers on review websites—to influence how and where we spend our money.
This trend isn’t isolated to our consumer lives. It’s also pertinent in the B2B world. According to LinkedIn, 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process off with a referral.
As a result, savvy marketers are realizing the importance of driving referrals for their businesses. But like any other marketing initiative, there has to be a coherent strategy behind your referral program.
Below, I’m sharing four key components of Influitive’s robust referral engine, which fuels a big part of our overall demand. (Last year, referrals were the source of 42% of our revenue.)
1. Capitalize on moments of delight to ask for referrals
The times when your customers are happy are the perfect opportunities to request a referral. Did they just sign the contract? Successfully launch your product? Give you a high NPS score? These moments of delight generate a customer enthusiasm that is easy to harness.
2. Make it clear what kind of prospects you’re looking for
Sometimes, your customers will gladly provide a referral, but may just be unsure about the type of prospect you’d like to speak to. If there is a particular persona that you’d like to target, make sure your customer is aware of it. This will increase the likelihood of them facilitating an introduction.
This is also applicable in driving cross-sell or up-sell opportunities through referrals. If you have a happy customer in a large organization, feel confident in asking for a referral into another division.
3. Nurture customers toward your referral program
The most effective referral programs nurture your customers on a continual basis so that they consistently provide new referrals.
We do this by engaging our top customers in an exclusive online program called Influitive VIP. In the program, we provide our advocates with valuable resources (like educational content and professional development opportunities). We also offer customers the options to advocate for us by writing reviews, sharing our content and—when they’re ready—submitting referrals.
Since we’re constantly in touch with our advocates (and creating moments of delight) through the program, submitting referrals is always top of mind. Find ways to frequently communicate with customers and they’ll be happy to give new referrals.
4. Provide customers with feedback on referral progress & quality
Your customers are vested in the referral process; they’ve brokered a professional introduction and they want to see it through to fruition. Keep customers in the loop as their referrals progress throughout the purchasing process—especially if you want them to refer again.
It’s also important to thank and reward your customers on the quality of their referrals, not the quantity. Once they know who and what you’re looking for, it will be easier for them to refer more of their peers in the future.
B2B referral programs need these four foundational pieces in place to be successful and sustainable.