Follow Through To Create A World-Class Customer Referral Program


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I’ve been reading so many articles lately about how important referral leads are to your business. They close faster and referred customers often have a higher LTV than those that are acquired in other ways.

In Koka Sexton’s recent article on the LinkedIn Sales Solution blog, Making Quota Next Year Will Be a Breeze If You Make These Investments Now, one key point he makes is about creating a “rock-solid referral system”. It’s especially important, he says, “when you consider that referral business closes more than 70% of the time”. This is so true. And every article I’ve ever read about referrals talks about their importance and shares tips on how to ask for them.

While most articles stop there, you cannot. To create a world-class customer referral program, you need to consider what happens after the referral is given to you.  Like in sports, the follow through is what typically makes or breaks the swing, throw or kick.

Recently, I dug into our referral process a little more and realized our sales development reps were following up with referral leads the same way they followed up with all inbound leads. And that was a huge mistake. Referral leads are not the same as other leads and you have to treat them differently in order to receive the benefit of lightening-speed conversions.

Connected Modern WorldYou’ve just connected and you’ve hit the “lead” sweet spot, why stop there?

Here is the process we implemented at Influitive, which has helped increase our referral lead conversion rate:

1. Create a separate list in your CRM for referral leads

Make sure your sales team pays attention to this list, understands how they are different from regular leads and is trained on how handle them properly.

2. Involve the referrer in the follow up

Whoever gave you that referral has some level of commitment to making that contact your newest customer. And more importantly – they know your prospect.

  • Be transparent about the fact that their colleague/peer/acquaintance thought they should take a look at whatever it is you are selling for a reason.
  • Use the referrer’s name in the subject line: “John Smith thought we should talk”
  • Bring them into the process by copying them on the introduction email.

3. Do a little extra research

Not on the prospect, but on the person that referred you. Especially if it’s a customer. Find a couple of key metrics or stories you can share. Make sure you reference any content they have co-developed with you that is publicly available. You won’t run the risk of sharing confidential information but still get to be specific. For example:

Bo has been running the advocate marketing program at ReadyTalk and this year had so much success that she won the BMA Colorado Gold Key award. When writing about receiving this award, Bo said, “We’ve already seen tremendous results from the program including a major increase in customer referrals, which is why we received a Silver Key from the BMA. Not only have we seen a rise in customer referrals, but these referrals close faster than our other deals. But that’s not all, we’ve also seen a boost in social media, case studies, reference calls, etc.”

You are now sharing real results from your prospect’s peer instead of your own sales speak. It’s much more powerful.

4. Start a three-way conversation

Invite the person who referred you to share additional details about why they referred this person. Again, especially if the referral comes from one of your customers, it’s best if they can share specific information about the success of their program.

Plus, getting an early peer reference done at the beginning of the sales process makes the decision-making process so much easier for your future customer.

We implemented this process a few months ago and what happened was magic. Without fail, the customers who were copied on the email and called out to share additional details would respond with details and offers to connect. The prospects had a much better buying experience as they got a chance to speak with their peer early on, even before speaking with a sales rep.

This is an actual email reply from one of our top advocates, Liz Pedro. She is the Director of Customer Success Marketing at Mitel. After experiencing incredible success with Mitel’s advocate marketing program, the Mitel Champions, Liz started telling every marketer she knows about Influitive. She’s the referral queen around here. (Literally. Liz won our referral contest two months in a row this summer.)


How have emails like these impacted our sales? To date, while only 3% of our leads come from referrals, our conversion rate of those leads to opportunities is 24%, Of those, we have closed 38% of all referral leads, which represents 42% of our MRR and climbing.

We have an incredible advocate marketing program and even better advocates – like Liz – who are dedicated to helping us grow our business.

If you are spending the time implementing a referral program, bring your advocates into the process. Most importantly, don’t forget the follow-through for maximum velocity, accuracy and effectiveness.

Start here: Your recipe for referral marketing success

The No Fuss Recipe for Hot Referral Leads features valuable insight from five sales and marketing leaders who share their “secret ingredients” for a successful referral marketing program. Download the recipe book to get your revenue cooking with the ultimate referral marketing program! Get your copy of the eBook now

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Julie Persofsky
Julie Persofsky is the Director of Customer Strategy at Influitive, the advocate marketing experts. In this role, she forges new paths for Influitive and its customers, and designs customer strategic initiatives.


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