I was recently asked to run a workshop on sourcing referrals from existing clients. The workshop was for the account management team of a SaaS company which provides productivity software to blue-chips’ communications departments. There is a lot of literature on the web regarding referrals as a key part of marketing. I found the most useful opinions, which subsequently helped steer my approach, were on Ian Brodie’s blog.
Everyone knows referrals are a great source of new business – the leads are low-cost and well qualified, and you are able to enter the sales process with a heightened credibility. However, the account management team in question were not hitting their targets in this area. This is not atypical – despite general recognition of the effectiveness of referrals, most companies do not reflect this in their marketing strategies. It is the norm to have a systematic approach to sourcing business through other channels (as part of a multi-modal demand generation strategy) where attention is focused on measuring the effectiveness of each channel (cost, frequency, and quality of leads) and then optimising the process to drive repeatability and visibility.
As such, my objective for the workshop was to co-design a repeatable and effective process for sourcing referrals. I used the following structure to help elucidate such a process:
- What is required to make a referral work?
- For what reasons might you be reluctant to ask for a referral?
- How can each of these points be addressed?
- How can these be tied up into a systematic referral process?
In the following post, I will summarise the points we explored under each of these areas, and what our resulting process looked like.