In an economic climate when qualified sales leads are harder and harder to come by, your best source of new business is often the people who already know you: clients, partners, and even existing prospects. Referrals can be especially fertile ground for SaaS companies and other tech vendors whose fortunes depend on new subscriptions, renewals, and increased usage.
Gaining qualified referrals can be a key objective of both customer communication and lead nurturing strategies, yet the number of referrals generated by these programs is usually anemic. That’s in part because few companies have dedicated referral strategies beyond including a “forward to a friend” feature on outbound e-mails. Secondly, there’s seldom little in the way of genuine incentive to motivate potential referrers to take action, besides goodwill towards you and your company.
Enter Web 2.0. Companies like Salesconx (“An Online Marketplace for Business Referrals”) and Cash4Lead (“Social Lead Exchange”) have sprung up in recent months with the purpose of leveraging social networking to drive referral-based business. Leading business networks like LinkedIn and Plaxo are almost certainly planning ways to integrate fee-based referrals into their respective communities.
There’s little, however, that companies like these can do for you if you’re looking to generate referrals from your own community, i.e. a customer base or database of prospects. That’s why I was intrigued to discover Myndnet, a start-up that has taken the community-based referral model and developed a platform that companies can customize and deploy exclusively for their own customers.
Using Myndnet, a company sets up their own “white label” referral network, and invites customers and prospects to join via an e-mail announcement, e-newsletter, blog, or any other means. Once a member, customers and prospects can survey the types of leads that the sponsoring company is seeking, how much said company is willing to pay for such a lead, and if they refer an opportunity that is accepted as meeting the stated criteria, receive payment to their account (ultimately fulfilled via PayPal.)
As the sponsoring company, you determine and describe the types of leads you’re seeking and how much they’re worth to you. For example: how much do you pay currently for net new leads from search or online advertising? Keep in mind that leads from referrals are likely to be more qualified than the norm (and again, you decide the precise criteria.)
For companies that have thousands of licensed customers, or a large prospect database, this is a potentially very lucrative way to mine those lists for referrals, and at the same time, reinforce your relationship with those contacts, and reward them in a very real way for their support of your business.
At CDI, we’re so enamored of the potential that Myndnet offers that we decided to become an agency partner in order to be able to offer their platform as an integral part of the lead nurturing and customer communication strategies we build for our clients. Plus we’ve set up our own referral program, the CDI Referral Network.
Feel free to become a member, even if your only purpose is getting a sense of how the system works. Of course, if along the way you remember a high-tech marketing manager looking for ways to improve his or her demand generation results, well: don’t let me stop you from filling out a form …
If you’re interested in building a referral program into your lead nurturing or customer communication strategy, feel free to contact CDI directly for a free, no-obligation consultation and cost proposal.