Luck plays a role in business success, but you can’t leave the health of your sales pipeline to chance. Besides the expensive traditional channels for generating leads, there is an innovative, often-overlooked approach to filling the top of your sales funnel: formal business referral program. Here are 5 steps to effectively use your professional network to become an extension of your sales force by generating high quality leads and business referrals:
#1 – Define your Ideal Customer
To ensure that your network and connections are investing their time in chasing the right people, make sure they understand your ideal customer base. Succinctly explaining the need that your product or service addresses in advance will better clarify your value proposition to your potential prospects.
#2 – Tighten the Feedback Loop
The need to have an effective two-way communication channel is paramount. No one will continue to send introductions and prospects into a referral-blackhole! So, make sure you provide regular updates on the referrals sent your way. The results in the image below show that when you implement an effective referral campaign, with systematic two-way communication system facilitating frequent automatic updates, the engagement rates can go as high as 74%.
#3 – Incentivize Referrals
Having a structured incentive plan within your referral program will keep your network motivated to look out for new leads. Evernote, a leading CRM platform with over 100 million users, acquired 13 million users through partner referrals. Evernote rewards points to its customers every time they make a referral, and the points can be used towards a free upgrade or increased upload capacity.  It is, therefore, important to recognize and reward the people who contribute to your pipeline.
#4 – Eyes on the Progress
Once you have gathered some prospects through your referral program, the next crucial step is monitoring the progress closely. Gather information about the activity of your referral network and analyze pipeline results to make intelligent decisions about how to continuously improve the program drive higher conversion and sales. In other words, monitoring the activity and effectiveness of your referral program will allow you to better educate, communicate with and encourage your lead referral network.
#5 – Remarkable Results
If you follow the above 4 steps, you will have a consistent pipeline with relevant leads. Additionally, your business will earn a higher conversion rate due to higher quality of more actionable leads.
Lead generation is the oxygen for the survival of any business, but it can be extremely difficult to identify the right source of leads. So, with the ever-changing modern world of commerce, make sure your methods of generating leads have not passed their expiry date.
Guest Poster: Sahand Sojoodi