I own a business in the digital space and one thing that has become apparent is the huge role played by referral partners. Any business or agency owner would tell you that referrals are the best kind of deals because of the whole issue of trust between them and your customers.
A referral partner is a business associate who recommends your company’s products and services to people they know in exchange for payment. Over the years I have come to learn that reaching out to a partner is way better than reaching out to a client. This is because of it the partner that referred you to this client and many others.
- Benefits of referral marketing
Referral marketing entails leveraging the power of different referral sources to target potential buyers. Such sources include influencers, customers and partners and they have relationships with your potential buyers and they could help drive your sales. Referral marketing has several benefits which include:
- Referral channels deliver a higher value compare to other marketing channels
Remember the trust factor I mentioned earlier? People trust the opinions of those they have a relationship with. Trust goes a long way when it comes to convincing someone to buy something. If they don’t trust you, they won’t listen to you. Not to mention most partners approach customers who they know will give a definite and immediate yes.
- They are fast and cost-effective
They help you reach your target market faster and expand your network. You only deal with one partner who could refer you to even 10 people in a day and result in several sales. The cost is also way lesser than that of other marketing and networking methods.
- Saves you the hustle of searching for the prospects yourself
Reaching out to new customers is one of the hardest parts of marketing because you don’t even know where to start. But with the referral market, you no longer have to deal with this, all you have to do is give them a scope of your market and the number of people you want them to reach.
- They increase your company’s value to the clients.
Referral partners take care of your company’s reputation by selling your brand. They can even offer special discounts based on your agreement just to attract more buyers.
- Help you fulfill your social responsibility of giving jobs to others
Instead of doing everything yourself, you outsource the work and employ other people. You owe it to your community to employ people and improve their lives.
- Building your brand’s awareness
Word of mouth is always one of the most effective marketing strategies. People tend to believe the information when the person has used the product before. When a client refers you to another who refers you to yet another, they increase your brand’s awareness. More people become aware of your brand and you slowly get to establish your name and niche in the industry.
- Building your referral program
Building your referral program is key, you have to be tactical and organized about it. If you fully realize the kind of impact that referral partners play in your business, you are going to aspire to build the best referral program that you can.
The very first step is to identify and analyze your potential referral sources. Target people and groups interact directly with your target audience. If you want to sell to the youth, then target people who interact with them and so on.
The second step is to come up with an effective way of running your referral program. Different companies have different systems in place for this particular role. Most companies track their referrals manually on spreadsheets. However, and it is interesting to note that many of the more successful companies use some kind of referral automation software.
- Challenges of managing referral partners.
- Managing the partners’ data
There are several challenges, however, I will only tackle one that has bugged me a while. I am sure that I am not the only one who has had a challenge with keeping track of partners’ data.
For years, I have been dealing with the partners’ data myself. Having to deal with several PayPal and Chase links to track their payment, google documents with partners’ details and long lists of checks to referral partners has become quite the norm. I always felt overwhelmed dealing with these chunks of data manually and still running the business. Did I mention that is was doing this referral payments monthly? You can imagine the number of hours I was working and the time I would go to bed.
At some point, I had all these google documents to look at, PayPal spreadsheets, Chase spreadsheets and a long list of checks to referral partners. At the same time, I had been tasked by the company for quarterly goals or rocks because we were running EOS traction. I was supposed to research B2B marketing lead general demand. I was going crazy, working long hours and always working late into the night. Not to mention I did not enjoy dealing with the partners’ data manually. So one night I am looking at my ‘to-do list’ and the heading take care of local farmers and friends pops up. Within that heading, there are several links and documents I dreaded to even look at. And at that moment I sighed and thought of how there had to be a better way. Surely, I could not even eat at that time.
- Giving the partners the attention they require
As I mentioned earlier, it is better to deal with referral partners than it is to deal with clients directly. While I was juggling manual data management, I left my sales manager in charge of the partners. Anytime I asked whether he was following up and keeping in touch he would say yes so I thought all was good.
The truth is that everything wasn’t good. Of course, we were not giving them the necessary attention. We just gave them assignments and then paid them after the assignment was done. We did not create room for feedback. I cannot stress this point enough; feedback not only grows but also nurtures your referral partners.
At some point, a friend gave me a referral and waited for ages for me to give them feedback. I will admit that the deal hadn’t even gone through because of a lack of a budget. The next time I met him, he raised his concern about how he was still waiting for me to get back to him about the deal. I explain why the deal hadn’t gone through. And immediately, he gave me an even warmer deal. You see, that is the thing about referral partners, they want your feedback. That is the only way for them to know that you care and that you are paying attention. However, when you are overwhelmed with managing their data, you even overlook important aspects like giving them feedback.
I would have about 20 or more referral partners at a go, so you can imagine how difficult it was to keep in touch with each one of them and pay them on time, keep up with their sales. It was simply crazy.
SAS as a solution
With all the limitations I was facing within my business, I am surprised that I hadn’t turned to SAS sooner. Lately, most retailers and business owners have been turning to SAS and yet for some reason, I had never even thought about this trend. SAS improves your experience with your partners and even helps you to make more sales.
At the time when I was researching on B2b marketing lead gen demand, I got to hold conversations with over 30 professionals. Some of these professionals included SEO specialists, media specialists, event specialists, article specialists, content specialists and so on. I found this experience very informative, especially one conversation with a close friend who struck a nerve. He had a very interesting view on opportunity; according to him no matter how good a business is, there are only so many deals they can take on which means that there are only so many leads they can drive and get paid off.
At that point, I realized that my business can only do so much yet I was limiting its potential by choosing to keep on struggling with manual management of my partners’ data. after that, I talked to my very close friend at work about how I was thinking of embracing SAS to be able to handle the business even better. He was so amused because he was also thinking of creating software but he didn’t have the marketing skills. I had the marketing skills but I did not have the technical skills necessary.
Right then and there, we knew that we were up to something good. That is how we started working on SAS software for our business. I want to create a digital experience that feels relevant, effective, emotionally enticing for the customers. I am tired of simply relying on traditional products and services and to start delivering a new experience.
The creation experience has been fantastic, but what has been even better is the process of learning how to divide the company in a unique and novel way to ensure company success and fairness. We are trying to nurture the right kind of organizational structure and culture.