Tips for Building a Successful B2B Referral Program

  • author

    Hannah Prince

  • posted

    Nov 23, 2022

  • topic

    Digital Marketing, Sales

Tips for Building a Successful B2B Referral Program

No matter what kind of product or service you’re selling, referrals are among the best leads you can get. Consumers trust recommendations from friends and colleagues more than any other advertising format, according to Nielsen. Plus, referrals who turn into customers are more loyal and have higher lifetime value than other customers. 

Launching a B2B referral program has become even more effective in recent years. Statista reports that nearly half of B2B technology vendors say customer referrals have been their most successful marketing tactic during the pandemic.

Since there should be no doubts about the value of referrals and their potential to help you reach your goals, it’s time to get started. Here are some tips so you can build the most successful referral program possible.

Decide on the Kind, Value, and Structure of Incentives

In today’s busy world, the best way to motivate people to take the time to submit a referral is with a digital reward. But there are many things to consider as you create your B2B referral program:

  • What type of reward will be most effective? Gift cards are a popular choice among recipients, and delivering them digitally means you can send them instantly and for free.
  • What value is compelling enough? This may vary depending on the demographics of your customer base. If you’re looking for C-suite executives to submit referrals, you’ll have to offer more than if you deal mostly with lower-level administrative staff. But also remember that referrals are valuable leads, so you may offer more than you would for, say, a survey incentive. No matter what, you’ll probably have to do a little trial and error to get the right value.
  • How do you want to structure your incentives? Will you reward only the referrer, or will you give a reward to the referred person as well? By offering rewards on both sides, you not only encourage the submission of referrals, you can also incentivize demo attendance.

Remember That Simpler Is Better

In addition to offering a reward, you need to make it as easy as possible for customers to participate in your B2B referral program. Create a short form with only the necessary information. If you make it too difficult to submit a referral, customers just won’t do it. Also, ensure that you lay out simple rules for who gets the reward and when. Depending on the incentive amount and how you want to structure your program, you might say that the referrer gets their reward after the referred person is deemed a qualified lead, after they have had a first call with sales, after they attend a demo, or after they place an order or sign a contract.

Be Thoughtful in Promoting Your B2B Referral Program

You shouldn’t just send a mass email to all of your customers asking for referrals. It’s important to target your promotion to those who are most likely to give you the kind of referrals you want. For instance, start with paying customers, rather than those who are using a free or on-demand version of your product or service — they are most likely to see the value in what you offer. Use your customer feedback survey as a starting point. Respondents who rated their experience highly are great sources for referrals. You can even ask them to refer a friend or colleague as a call to action in the reward email they get for completing the survey!

Don’t Neglect Good Old-Fashioned Customer Outreach

Yes, it’s great to set up an automated B2B referral program so customers can fill out a simple form, give you a hot lead, and get rewarded for it. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, the best way to get referrals is making sure that account managers and client success reps are reaching out to their assigned customers on a regular basis to continue building stronger and stronger relationships. Then, even those customers who maybe wouldn’t bother filling out the referral form might pass along other names directly to their own account managers. In fact, this kind of referral is sometimes even more valuable, because you can get more qualifying information about the referred person. Just don’t forget to reward the customer with the same digital incentive that others get by submitting referrals online.

Referrals Are Just One Part of Customer Advocacy

Once you’ve set up and optimized your B2B referral program, don’t stop there! By taking advantage of customer rewards, not only can you collect referrals and fill your pipeline, you can build engagement and loyalty. Customers who submit qualified referrals are well on their way to being brand advocates.

Learn more about all the ways to use rewards to continue to grow customer engagement and turn that engagement into more leads.

about the author
Hannah Prince

Hannah is a reformed journalist who has more than 15 years of experience and now focuses on content marketing for innovative tech companies.

Hannah is a reformed journalist who has more than 15 years of experience and now focuses on content marketing for innovative tech companies.