Did you know that 88% of B2B decision-makers rely on word-of-mouth for information and advice? They want to know what their colleagues are doing and what products they’re using.
You may already have a lot of marketing outreach strategies. These likely include networking events and belonging to the local Chamber of Commerce. And you almost certainly do cold-calls.
What you might not realize is referral marketing is far more powerful and takes far less time. Here’s why you can’t afford to overlook the power of referrals and how to harness that power for your business.
What is a Referral Process?
A referral process is a formalized process for asking your happiest customers to recommend your products and services to their peers.
Reaching out to customers to occasionally ask for referrals is not a referral process. What we’re talking about – and where the real power lies – is in giving every delighted customer an easy way to connect their colleagues with your sales department.
B2B companies such as Google Apps, Carpathia, Box, and others use referral programs to help them grow. These businesses know that the trust decision-makers have in their peers means that a referral program gives them a leg up on the competition. It builds trust quickly and helps smooth out the sales process.
The Benefits of a Referral Program
A referral program has to be carefully built, but when it is, you’ll see a lot of benefits for your company. For example, sales and marketing teams see a higher customer lifetime value, shorter deal lengths, and a much better conversion rate.
A top-notch referral program will have the following attributes:
- Be a seamless experience — easy and enjoyable for the customer
- Offer the right reward, so the customer finds it valuable
- Be aligned with the goals of sales and marketing
- Create engaged customer advocates that refer over and over again
As you can see, a great referral program brings in leads consistently over time, and it keeps you top-of-mind with your former customers. Even better, once the program is set up, it takes very little maintenance, and you’ll get an incredible return on your investment.
Referrals Help You Build Your Network
Getting referrals helps bring in new customers, but it also enables you to create a business network that can serve you in multiple ways. You’re building high-trust business relationships with customers who use your referral program regularly, and these connections can help you personally and professionally.
Networking is closely related to marketing. Both rely on connections that carry information from one place to another. When you use a referral program, you’re making your network more robust and boosting your marketing at the same time.
The more connections you have, and the more solid they are, the more likely you are to be able to draw on the resources you need. That boosts your network and your marketing, which makes a referral program a win-win.
Use Your Referral Program in Your Marketing Mix
As you develop a consistent referral program, make sure it gets a solid place in your marketing mix. You can include it as part of your social media marketing, email marketing, and even in your conventional outreach. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, either. For instance, if your business is relocating, you may be able to use your referral program to build a strong customer base in your new area quickly.
When you have a strong referral program, you’ll be able to leverage it in a variety of ways to build your business and improve your brand. This is especially true online, where social media gives us the ability to connect with professionals all over the world in moments.
Automation Can Help You Save Time With Referral Marketing
There are a variety of software programs that can help you build and implement a referral program, but you can often use something you already have: your email marketing program.
When you have a happy customer, add them to an email sequence that invites them into your referral process and lets them know how it works. You can send reminders if they don’t act right away. By using email automation, you can minimize the time your team spends soliciting referrals. Instead, they can focus on the high-value leads that come out of the process.
Referrals Help Build Your Pipeline
As you look at the sales pipeline in your manufacturing business, you want to make sure that as many high-quality leads as possible come through. There are a lot of strategies, including content marketing, targeting your audience, and making timely connections, but what pays off is when an existing customer not only gives you repeat business but also refers other customers to your company.
When you get referrals into your pipeline, they’ll be easier to convert and bring you more profit overall. There’s no reason not to set up a referral process today!
This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Email in your idea and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.
Guest blogger - Beau Peters is professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.