The influencer marketing industry is expected to reach $21 billion in 2023 according to a benchmark report by Influencer Marketing Hub. Interestingly, 42% of agencies now pay influencers rather than give them free product. Plus, nearly one quarter of marketers surveyed plan to spend more than 40% of their entire budgets on influencer campaigns. If there were ever a doubt about whether referrals work, that notion is hereby emphatically dismissed. Sure, the message, the power of identity and the environment are principal factors; but the concept of trusted, targeted personal recommendations is the same. That’s why your sales objectives can be reached when you invest in even the simplest client referral program.
Set realistic sales objectives and learn from the influencers
New customers at low cost are a dream come true. And referral marketing notoriously generates the most cost-effective leads. Subsequently, it’s more efficient than traditional prospecting with repeated emails, phone calls and sending message after message. In a previous SalesFuel post, I wrote about a B2B referral framework that is self-directed, personally adapted and informal. Appropriately, it makes a seemingly huge task simple. Done right, you can create your own team of influencers/advocates all contributing to your sales objectives. The idea is viable. The solution may be just a matter of scale.
Influencers and relationships
Remarkably, influencer trends are teaching us that smaller is better. Nano-influencers (1k to 10k followers) are preferred by 39% of the brands. The study’s authors surmise this reflects the reality of a small to medium-sized business. Sensibly, nano and micro-influencers have a higher engagement rate and provide more value in reaching a specific, dedicated audience. You may translate this fact to your network by engaging recent buyers or those with whom you have a strong personal relationship. Build referrals by making business dealings less transactional and more relational. Showing direct appreciation for referrals and nurturing those referred customers builds that connection. In addition, you might offer email templates, sample scripts and pro tips to assist your influencers in their efforts on your behalf.
Cultivate your team of influencer/advocates
B2B referral generation is within your control and doesn’t always require begging for referrals. That’s the belief of John Jantsch, creator of Duct Tape Marketing, in an interview on the Marketing Smarts Podcast. Jantsch thinks that if you are giving great customer service, a referral is the logical consequence. In fact, he maintains, referrals occur in the trust-building stage of the sales funnel, when the transaction happens and in the follow-up communication. Broken down, there are three key pieces to Jantsch’s proposal to get others to do your marketing for you.
Customers become advocates: The author suggests more personal engagement and doing more than requested or expected for your customers. It may be a consultative selling approach or learning more about their interests and passions. Ultimately, the key is listening. Further, educate your customers about who they should be talking to – for their benefit and for yours. Connect them to resources that have dual benefit.
Internal influencers: Satisfy everyone’s sales objectives by getting the entire sales team on board with your referral strategy. Additionally, Jantsch proposes a multidepartment collaboration to bring in referrals.
Engage strategic partners: Identify the non-competing businesses that supply your ideal customer. Jantsch suggests finding ways to participate with that business in helping educate their customers to further both of your industries. Perhaps speak at an event, conduct a webinar or provide collateral material.
Remember, people trust recommendations. Work to develop a mindset of a customer referral cycle that moves prospects and customers toward your goal of advocacy. Ultimately, you can achieve your sales objectives as customers become advocates and advocates become influencers.
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