How could I not attend the recent San Diego Direct Marketing Association (SDDMA) event entitled “How to make over a million dollars in referral business?”
Referrals are almost like free money. It may take some time, effort and even some travel to close the sale, but the marketing cost is zero. That makes the return on the marketing investment a whopper.
The SDDMA luncheon speaker, Suzanne Weinstein of InSync Consulting, helps leaders and others resolve conflict and achieve greater levels of effectiveness and satisfaction. For her one-person business, she has actually made a million dollars from referrals. For a B2B company selling high-ticket products with a long buy cycle, referrals can easily add up to multiple millions.
Much of what Suzanne related in her talk has to do with what to do when sitting face to face with customers. In my B2B business, like many today, I don’t have the opportunity to meet clients face to face, and communication is either by phone or email. However, she did share a few tips for encouraging referrals that don’t require being in the room with the customer. To her suggestions I have added a few of my own for a short list of what B2B marketing and sales can do to encourage more of this “free money.”
1. Create a “member-get-a-member” marketing campaign. Conduct a marketing campaign that invites customers to make one or more referrals to their peers. If the referred party becomes a new customer, the referring customer receives a reward of some kind. This reward can be a gift, a free service, a discount or any other time-saving or money-saving extra. Some referral campaigns also offer a reward or welcome gift to the new customer as well.
2. Make it easy for customers to share information with their colleagues. It’s important for B2B marketers to include an “invite your colleagues” button on Webinar and event invitations and a “share with colleagues” link when sending out product information.
3. Be a resource for customers outside of direct product support. Those in B2B marketing and sales can better cement their relationships with customers by being a willing resource of information. This can include being ready with recommendations of other vendors that could solve other challenges for the customer as well as forwarding any pertinent news or other information about the customer’s company or their industry.
4. Ask for referrals. There’s no reason to beat around the bush. If B2B marketers or sales people have a good relationship with customers and vendors, there is no harm in asking.
5. Give referrals to get referrals. As a vendor, sales people and marketers at B2B companies should know the value of the products and services of their customers and vendors. With the availability of today’s virtual networks, providing customers with referrals should be easier than ever. B2B marketers and sales people should make every effort to do this. The favor is often returned.