Marketers sometimes feel as though they’re doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to lead gen, but there’s a way to lighten the load and convince others to help. It doesn’t involve hiring a vast new staff of eager interns or working 12-hour days. The people who are just waiting for a reason to help you out and become your brand ambassadors are happy to do it for free. Who are they?
They’re your best customers.
Word of mouth is more powerful than ever, thanks to social media, yet B2B businesses don’t always capitalize on referrals the way they should. Part of their reticence is that they don’t want to seem too aggressive or ask for favors, but if you’ve done the necessary work to nurture your customers with an account-based marketing approach, they see referrals as a way to repay you for great service. Here’s how to get outstanding referrals without having to press for them.
Start Them Right
Loyal customers give great referrals, but only if they know that’s part of what makes your professional relationship tick. Well before your buyer makes a purchase, introduce the idea of referrals into the conversation. By mentioning referrals throughout the buying journey, you make it clear that you’d welcome their associates too. Instead of a single hard push toward the end of the sales funnel, offer subtle nudges throughout. Ask prospects to forward emails or invite others to subscribe to your newsletter.
You know how important referrals are to your organization; do your customers know it too? Make sure of it by telling them how much you value their opinion of you and how vital a good word from them is to your success. Openly sharing your hope for referrals makes your leads into allies; you and they are working together to help you grow so you can better serve their needs. If they’re happy with you, they also know the value they’re offering to colleagues with referrals; it’s a win for everyone involved.
If you really want to turbo-charge your referral demand gen, reward referrals with a bonus to buyers. It’s an incentive you’ll see often in the B2C sphere, but B2B businesses are just coming around to the power of a referrer’s discount. Work with your sales team to come up with an incentive program that boosts referral rates as they have plenty of valuable insight into what your customers want most.
Get the Timing Right
If you’ve introduced the concept of referrals early in your lead gen efforts, you’ve already primed prospects to refer promising leads to you – but when is the right time to ask? The timing of your request is almost as important as the phrasing. Ideally, you want to get referrals from clients just after you’ve made a sale, solved a problem, or checked in with them. When their most recent memory of you is a happy one, customers are far more likely to offer a glowing referral.
Say Thank You
A discount or rebate is good. Accompanying it with a personal thank you is excellent. Thanking customers who send new leads to you backs up your other incentives with a level of personal involvement that makes buyers feel truly valued. They thought enough of you to give you an enthusiastic referral; return the favor with a personal email or handwritten note.
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