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VOL. 40 | NO. 34 | Friday, August 19, 2016

Want positive referrals? 4 proven plays to get them

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It’s not news that creating an active referral pipeline is a game-changer for B2B sales teams. A recent Nielsen consumer insights survey revealed that up to 92 percent of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends more than any other form of advertising.

Motivating your customers and clients to spread the word, however, is another story entirely.

Twenty-five percent of customers are likely to share a positive experience, according to a 2015 Harvard Business Review survey, while 65 percent of are likely to share a negative experience.

Creating a powerful, structured referral program can make an enormous impact on your B2B sales team’s prospecting efforts.

But you don’t have to rewrite the book on referrals and rewards to develop a winning strategy. Instead, take pages from companies that already have successful referral programs.

Play #1: Double-sided Rewards. Dropbbox and Evernote are known for building empires from their simple and wildly successful double-sided referral rewards programs. Dropbox increased subscribers by 60 percent when it launched a program in which the referrer and the referred friend both got rewarded with extra storage space.

Play #2: Gamified Rewards. Advocate marketing company Influitive incentivized referrals with a VIP auction in which members could use earned points to bid on experiential prizes like skydiving.

World of Warcraft gives referrers exclusive in-game items. Programs like this target multiple rings on the consumer psychology dartboard. Gamification is growing in popularity among referral and rewards programs aimed at millennials, but competition and exclusivity also appeal to a broad audience of CEOs.

Play #3: Philanthropy Rewards. Mattress retailer Leesa allows you the option of donating your referral credits to charity. The added bonus of referral programs like this is that they help boost your brand’s reputation.

Connecting your company to a charitable cause inspires your clients and customers to discuss your business with friends and on social media channels. You’ve heard of Tom’s, right?

Play #4: Contest Rewards. There are only so many ways to remind customers you offer referral rewards, making it a challenge to keep customers excited.

Adventure outfitter Huckberry uses occasional contests to keep their program fresh and top of mind. In addition to receiving their standard reward, referrers are entered to win $1,000.

So, what makes these plays stand out enough to gain real momentum? Consistency.

The best programs are easy to understand and repeatedly communicated to customers.

They are an ingrained part of a company’s sales culture, and they are thoughtfully tested, monitored and refined over time.

Winning referral programs aren’t afterthoughts. They’re well-planned strategies for success.

Jenny Jo Smith, Manager of Training & Development at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.

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