Jenny Jo Smith is manager of training and development at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy
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 over any other form of advertising.
Motivating your customers and clients to spread the word, however, is another story entirely. According to a 2015 Harvard Business Review survey, 25 percent of customers are likely to share a positive experience, compared to 65 percent of customers who 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 re-write 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 they launched a program in which the referrer and the referred friend both got rewarded with extra storage space. The real genius is that this referral program also amplifies customer satisfaction and loyalty because the reward boosts the user's enjoyment of the product.
Play #2: Gamified Rewards. Advocate marketing company Influitive incentivized referrals with an exclusive VIP auction, where members could use earned points to bid on experiential prizes like skydiving excursions. 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 also 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 can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.