How to use customer referrals for B2B lead generation

03 November 2015 Karan Vidal

With all the buzz around different lead generation techniques, the humble customer referral is often overlooked.

Big companies like Sky are onto the power of referrals. Their introduce a friend program rewards the person making the referral with £125.

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Dropbox also runs a referral scheme that rewards customers with extra storage space for every friend they refer.

It’s no wonder that large companies are using word-of-mouth as a growth strategy. Research by Nielsen found that:

Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, often referred to as earned advertising, are still the most influential …

A survey of 300 U.S digital marketers by Gigaom found that:

“referral marketing shines for acquisition and conversion, driving at least 35% of new customers for almost half the marketers who use it.”

The power of referral programs isn’t reserved for the ‘big boys’ in B2C. Any business can bear the fruits of a well-planned recommendation and reward scheme.

We’ll give you some tips about how B2Bs can get in on the action of using existing customers to get new ones.

Develop a product or service worth sharing

Without a ‘stella’ product or service your referral program will be ‘dead in the water’. Dedicate time to get your processes and customer service right, so there’ll be no question marks in your customer’s mind. Your customer first needs to love your product, before taking the extra step of recommending it.

Establish your enticement

If your business has already wowed your customer, you then need to give them an incentive to recommend you. You’ll need to calculate your ROI before deciding on your reward.

The following can be used as incentives:

  • Free goods or services
  • Discounts
  • Account upgrades
  • Exclusive access to events
  • Cash or vouchers

Equip your referrers

Communicate how your referral program works so that your referrers can answer questions confidently. Make sure they understand what makes your business unique. Providing valuable content to customers will make the referral process easier.

Explain to your customer how you will use the contact details they provide. As you’ve already built up trust with your customer, it should be simple to reassure them that you’ll handle their contacts respectfully.

Providing the details below will put your referrer’s mind at ease:

  • The name of the person that will make contact
  • How contact will be made
  • When they’ll receive their incentive

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

Despite the opportunities for business growth, asking for referrals can be nerve-wracking. If you’re confident in your product or service, there’s no reason why you won’t get referred. The easiest way to get referrals is to ask for them. The worse that can happen is that you will be told “no”. If this happens, then you simply move on and ask someone else.

Here are some ways that you can ask for referrals:

  • When you’ve completed work with a customer
  • Combine the request for a testimonial and a referral
  • Device a referral system to ask each client

Keep your referral system on track

A structure to keep an eye on whether incentives are awarded at the right time, is a necessary part of a referral program. Word will spread like wild fire, if you fail to deliver on your promise to reward your customers for bringing you more business.

Tracking your referrals and payouts doesn’t have to be a chore if you have the right software. You can select applications based on their capabilities and according to your budget.

Some of the most popular customer referral management software are listed below:

  • ReferralCandy
  • Ambassador
  • Friendbuy
  • Referral SaaSquatch

Get the word out

The more people who are aware of your referral program, the more successful it will be. Use every opportunity to inform customers and prospects about what they can gain through referrals.

Here are some ways that you can get your program in front of potential referrers:

  • Include details in your promotional documents, including business cards
  • Call to actions on a website
  • Postcards delivered by ‘snail’ mail
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Provide details in your company’s email signature

Referral programs will work well if you stick to your side of the bargain. Build trust with your customers and they will recommend you to people who trust them. Make your product or service the ‘talk of the town’ and bag new customers in the process.