There’s something pleasantly wholesome about the idea of a referral program. Your sales team doesn’t have to go out and scrounge for new leads. Your marketing department doesn’t have to think about new ways to convince the world that your software is right for them. Instead, referral marketing gets your customer base working for you.
With referral marketing, the customer acquisition process is simple: someone likes your product so much they can’t help but tell a colleague.
Of course, while it may happen organically sometimes, you’ll have to put a bit of work in before you can make referral marketing a successful part of your acquisition strategy.
With a little bit of know-how, you can run a successful referral program that brings in new customers while satisfying your existing base.
Remember loyalty is a two-way street
To earn a B2B customer referral, you need to be a company that can prove itself worthy. This is the foundation of a successful referral channel. While a high-quality product or service may be enough to inspire some B2B customers to refer a friend, you can’t depend on the product alone to run a successful referral marketing campaign.
Word of mouth marketing hinges on being the sort of business customers want to talk about. And to be that sort of business, it’s worth remembering that loyalty goes both ways: as much as you want your customers to be loyal advocates for you, you should also be loyal advocates for them.
Only about 20% of customers feel that the companies they do business with are loyal to them. If you can make sure your customers fall into that category, your referral marketing program will be a big success.
Businesses make themselves more customer-centric by:
- Helping Customers Get Early Wins: In SaaS, the early win is key for several reasons. For one thing, customers who don’t feel like they are getting much from your product or service in the beginning, shouldn’t be expected to stick around for very long. Indeed, nearly 60% of American workers say they are frustrated with, or simply incapable of using their workplace tech stack. When your success team can swoop in and help establish early victories, your business gets the chance to avoid customer churn while also cementing your relationship with the consumer. B2B referral programs hinge on close relationships, so early connections are key.
- Selling Smart: Your sales team can also play a part in earning your business some B2B referrals. Make sure your business makes a rule of appealing only to leads that can derive a genuine benefit from your product or service. While many a sales team have been able to generate high temporary revenue with a more scattershot approach, this is no way to conduct a B2B referral program. You probably spend tens of thousands of dollars every year on customer success and onboarding. Don’t waste those resources on customers who aren’t a good fit for your product in the first place. Instead, focus on B2B referral marketing by cultivating customers who will find so much success with your product that they can’t help but recommend it to their colleagues.
Modern commerce can very impersonal. By being the business that makes an effort, you not only distinguish yourself from the competition, but you also make a strong impression on your customer base that they will most likely be eager to pass along.
Launch incentive-driven referral marketing Programs and loyalty programs
B2B companies, just like anyone else, are incentive motivated. In fact, 75% of customers say they favor companies that offer rewards over those that don’t. When it comes to selling software to B2B businesses, the reward can take two forms:
- Loyalty Program: A loyalty program rewards customers for sticking around. Nearly 60% of shoppers say that earning rewards is one of their primary focuses when it comes to shopping. You can reward your customer base either for simply maintaining their relationship with you or for buying upsells and service expansions. Through these rewards, you establish the level of loyalty that is necessary for running an effective referral-based marketing campaign.
- Referral Programs: A referral reward is given out in exchange for high-quality leads. To establish a referral reward system, reward B2B customers who bring in new customers. The process may vary from company to company. However, examples could include service discounts or coupons issued once you’ve generated a new sale with a referral link.
Keep in mind that referral programs and loyalty rewards accomplish more than just landing new customer sales. They’re also a strong tonic for churn. When your best customers receive their referral reward, they will feel appreciated and valued.
It’s also important to know that referred customers are 18% less likely to churn out and drive higher average profits, which means you can afford to issue a referral reward to incentivize more word of mouth marketing.
Simply ask for a B2B customer referral
Here’s a novel idea: You want to run a successful referral marketing program? Ask! The scheduling software platform Jobber found that simply asking customers for referrals was one of the highest-converting methods.
Why is asking even more successful than incentives or referral programs? For one thing, it puts the idea in the customer's head. Keep in mind that the B2B companies who do business with you are busy. Even if you do launch an incentive-driven B2B referral marketing campaign, it may take time before you start to see customer uptake.
By asking, you bring your B2B referral marketing campaign directly to their attention. Of course, there are ways to make this method more effective. To secure growth:
- Ask the Right Companies: Naturally, some companies that do business with you will have more success with your product or service than others. Asking customers you don’t have a close relationship with for referrals will be ineffective at best, and possibly considered irritating at worst.
Instead, go to your best customers. They are more likely to provide good recommendations for the simple reason that they’ve already had a great experience with your software.
- Reward the Referrer: Even though this lead isn’t technically coming from your B2B referral marketing rewards program, the referrer should still receive some benefits. Rewarding companies that produce a successful B2B referral makes them feel appreciated while also increasing the chances that they will help you out again in the future.
Remember: Referrals can be passive. For example, social media is a great way to participate in word-of-mouth marketing. Social media can also be a valuable resource for companies that are working actively on their brand identity.
You can find success with referral-based marketing by asking B2B businesses to give you a social media shoutout, or even to simply share their honest thoughts about your product online.
Your B2B referral program will work if you commit to your customers
Mastering the art of the B2B referral program can be a difficult process. Master it, however, and you can increase your sales while simultaneously satisfying your customers with rewards. Such is the magic of referral marketing.
As you implement your B2B referral program, emphasizing quality over quantity is key. Referral marketing has an organic, grassroots quality that shouldn’t be lost along the way.
As you work to increase your customer-driven sales, hone in on new leads that are likely to:
- find success with your product or service and
- be potential future participants in your B2B referral program.
Of course, no crystal ball can guarantee either goal. However, by developing a sales strategy and culture that prioritizes good-fit customers, you naturally become the company a B2B referral program is meant for.
The beauty of any B2B referral program is that it hinges on making sure customers stay happy. Be a customer success-driven business, and your referral marketing campaign will thrive.