6 Steps to Get Qualified Leads Through Referrals 🎯

Enzo Colbachiny
Enzo Colbachiny

Let's face it: the B2B selling game has changed. Decision-makers are now harder to reach, competition is intense, and high-value leads are scarce. In this competitive landscape, Sales, Marketing, and Lead Generation leaders need to adapt quickly, think creatively, and deliver tangible results.

Despite these challenges, there's a powerful solution right at your fingertips: Referrals.

The Situation is Critical:

  • Market Growth: In just 3 years, the B2B landscape has expanded by 25% (Salesforce)
  • Lead Generation Struggles: 62% of B2B companies are struggling to generate high-quality leads (Trustmary)
  • Longer Sales Cycles: 20% increase in B2B sales closing times in the last five years (Forrester).

Referral programs generate 3x more leads than other channels (DemandGen Report).

And the data backs this up:

  • Preference for Referred Companies: 76% of B2B executives prefer doing business with recommended companies (IDC).
  • Lead Generation Efficiency: Referral programs generate 3x more leads than other channels (DemandGen Report).
  • Higher Close Rates for Referral Leads: Referral leads have a 50% higher close rate (Aberdeen Group).
  • Sales Increase with Referral Programs: B2B companies see a 30% sales increase with referral programs (Salesforce).

Yet, they remain underutilized with only 30% of companies having one in place (Forbes).

The barriers? Identifying potential referrers, equipping sales teams, tracking results and ROI, and securing executive support.

Only 30% of companies have a sales referral program (Forbes)

It’s time to act ! This guide will help you establish a referral program that delivers exceptional results, securing leads that close faster and boost revenue.

Setting Up a Strategic Referral Program

Building a successful referral program takes more than just asking customers to recommend your business; it requires careful planning and strategy. To achieve success, focusing on six pivotal steps is essential :

  1. Identifying Your Ambassadors: Who are my loyal advocates?
  2. Timing Your Referral Requests: When to request a referral?
  3. Crafting Effective Referral Asks: How to ask for referrals?
  4. Selecting Rewarding Incentives: Which incentives truly motivate referrals?
  5. Tracking Key Performance Indicators: What success indicators to track?
  6. Implementing Automation: Where to automate in the referral process?

Referrals should not be an occasional or opportunistic action; they should be part of a long-term strategy.

Step 1: Identifying Your Ambassadors

"Targeting the right customers generates 3x more leads"

Identify Ambassadors

A study by ReferralCandy found that referral programs that target the right customers generate 3x more leads than those that do not.

The first step in setting up a referral program is identifying your customer ambassadors, i.e., your satisfied customers. They are the ones who have experienced the value of your product or service and are more likely to recommend it to others.

However, customer satisfaction is not static; it changes over time. Therefore, it is essential to use live data to identify your ambassadors continuously.

This can include evaluating Net Promoter Scores, analyzing usage data, looking at customer seniority, tracking referrals sent, and monitoring testimonials.

Step 2: Timing Your Referral Requests

Referral requests sent within 24 hours of a positive customer experience are 10x more likely to be successful than requests sent after 30 days. (DemandGen Report)

This suggests that customers are most likely to refer your business when they are still feeling positive about their interaction with you.

Knowing when to ask for a referral is as crucial as knowing who to ask. Even your most satisfied customers might hesitate to refer your business if you ask them at the wrong time. However, finding the right moment can significantly increase the success rate of your referral requests.

Look for triggers such as positive interactions with customer support, renewal or additional purchases, positive reviews, increased product or service usage, key usage milestones, customer events or webinars, and the release of new features or updates. These triggers can indicate that a customer is satisfied with your product or service and might be more willing to provide a referral.

Step 3: Crafting Effective Referral Asks

The subtleties in how you ask for a referral can make a world of difference. This stage demands attention to detail, a touch of personalization, and a tone that resonates with your client’s positive experience. Below are best practices on how to ask for a referral, and a crafted email template to help you get started.

Best Practices for Asking for a Referral:

  • Express Gratitude: Start by expressing your gratitude for their business. Let them know how much you appreciate their support and trust in your product or service.
  • Personalize Your Message: Ensure your message is tailored to the individual. Mention specific instances or experiences they had with your product that left a positive impact. This shows you value them not just as a customer but as a person.
  • Be Clear and Concise: Clearly explain why you’re reaching out and what you are asking of them. Avoid unnecessary jargon or overly complicated instructions.
  • Make It Easy: Provide them with a simple and straightforward way to make the referral. This could be a link to a referral form or a template they can use to introduce you via email.
  • Explain the Benefits: If applicable, mention any referral rewards or incentives that you offer, but ensure the focus remains on the value they are providing by helping a friend or colleague, rather than the reward itself.
  • Provide a Template: Make the process as frictionless as possible by providing a referral template or suggested wording they can use to make the introduction.
  • Show Flexibility: Let them know that you are available to discuss this in more detail if they have questions, and that there is no pressure to refer if they are not comfortable doing so.
  • Follow Up: Send a gentle follow-up reminder if you haven’t heard back from them in a week or two, expressing your gratitude again and reminding them of the value their referral brings.

Discover our top 3 customer-made referral email templates that have achieved the highest success in generating referrals below:

Top 3 customer-made referral email templates

Referral Email Template 1: Prioritizing Customer Value

Subject: [Client’s First Name] & [Your Company Name]

Hi [First Name],

At the beginning of our partnership, [Client’s Company] faced significant challenges with [specific pain point]. During our last QBR, it was rewarding to learn about the substantial positive impact [Your Company Name] has had in addressing these issues.

We’re eager to help others achieve the same success. If you know any peers at similar companies who might need our [product/service], could you kindly drop their name in this secure form? It would mean a lot to us: [Insert Personal Referral Form Link].


[Your Name]

Referral email template 2: Enhancing engagement through rewards

Subject: [First Name], Share the Benefits of [Your Company Name] and Earn Rewards!

Hi [First Name],

Seeing how [Company] has significantly benefited from [Your Company Name], we were wondering if you know of others who could benefit as well?

When you introduce someone to [Your Company Name]:

  • You’ll receive $300 — choose from cash, a voucher, or a donation to a charity of your choice.
  • They’ll enjoy special rewards on their first-year subscription.

Starting is simple – just use your personal link: [Insert Personal Referral Link]. 💰

If you have any questions or need more information, feel free to reach out.

All the best,

[Your Name]

Referral Email Template 3: Leveraging Client Satisfaction

Subject: Your Feedback Means the World to Us!

Hi [First Name],

We are thrilled to hear your positive experience with [Your Company Name]! It truly makes our day.

Others can benefit from our services too, and we'd be grateful if you could refer them using your personal link: [Insert Personal Referral Link].

Thank you for helping us make a difference!


[Your Name]

Step 4 : Selecting Rewarding Incentives

The Role of Rewards in Your Referral Program

10% higher conversion rate for B2B referral programs with rewards (DemandGen)

Refining your referral rewards strategy is essential, with data from DemandGen Report showing a 10% higher B2B conversion rate when incentives are in play, and G2 confirming that customers are twice as likely to refer when rewarded.

Optimized Reward Options:

  • Discounts: Smart savings on future purchases, a real win-win.
  • Gift Cards: Versatile and always well-received.
  • Early Access: Offer a sneak peek, creating a vibe of exclusivity.
  • Free or Discounted Services: Tangible value, straight from your arsenal.
  • Exclusive Content: Deep dive into your realm of expertise.

Effectiveness hinges on your understanding of your industry, audience, and their perceived value. In some spheres, especially with larger corporations, building relationships through round-table discussions, customer interviews, and collaborative content creation can be even more rewarding than tangible incentives. It’s about leveraging your visibility to amplify your customers’ presence, turning them into partners and advocates in a mutual ecosystem of success.

Navigating through potential policy restrictions in customer organizations is crucial, as appreciating, rather than rewarding, often holds more power. Ultimately, the goal is to tailor your strategy precisely, ensuring your referral program is not just effective but stands as a testament to a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship

Step 5 : Tracking Key Performance Indicators

Referral selling is more than a strategy; it’s a commitment to excellence. Success comes from ongoing, data-driven optimization. By rigorously tracking the right metrics and actively gathering feedback, your referral program can become a significant source of growth and customer engagement.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Keep in Check:

  • Referral Rate: Indicates the percentage of your customers who are making referrals. It reflects your program’s effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
  • Conversion Rate: Shows the percentage of referred prospects who actually make a purchase. It’s vital for understanding how well your referral leads convert compared to other channels.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) of Referred Customers: Measures the total value a referred customer brings to your business over time. It helps in assessing if your referral program attracts high-value customers.
  • Time to Close: The average time it takes to convert a referred lead into a customer. A shorter time to close indicates a more efficient referral process.
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): Calculates the cost of acquiring a new customer through the referral program. Ensuring this number is low validates the cost-effectiveness of your referral strategy.
  • Referral Program ROI: Calculates the return on investment for your referral program. A positive ROI means your referral program is profitable and sustainable.

Benchmarking for Accuracy and Growth:

  • Comparison: Regularly compare your performance against industry standards and competitors to understand your standing and identify areas for improvement.
  • Optimization: Utilize data and feedback to continually enhance your referral program, ensuring it consistently performs at its best.

Referral selling requires a straightforward and impactful approach. By focusing on these key metrics, you ensure that your program is not just active but highly effective, driving tangible results and contributing significantly to your business’s success.

Step 6 : Implementing Automation

15% increase in sales for businesses adopting automated referral strategies (Salesforce)

Referrals rely on genuine connections and personal stories, making the idea of integrating automation into this intimate process seem initially counterintuitive. However, with a thoughtful approach and the right tools, automating specific parts of the referral process can significantly enhance its efficiency and effectiveness.

  1. Identifying Potential Ambassadors: Utilize data analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) tools to sift through your customer base and pinpoint those most likely to refer your services. Look for customers with high Net Promoter Scores (NPS), frequent engagements, or a history of referrals.
  2. Timing the Ask: Leverage behavioral triggers and customer interaction data to pinpoint optimal moments for asking for a referral. This could be after a positive customer service experience, a successful transaction, or when a customer expresses satisfaction with your product or service.
  3. Crafting and Sending Referral Requests: Employ email marketing tools to create and send personalized, compelling referral requests. Ensure the messaging aligns with your brand voice and clearly communicates the value of referring others to your business.
  4. Managing Referrals and Rewards: Implement a referral management system to monitor referrals from the initial ask to the final conversion, ensuring no potential lead is lost. Automate the distribution of rewards and incentives for successful referrals to make the process seamless for both the referrer and referee.
  5. Analyzing Program Performance: Use analytics and reporting tools to assess your referral program's effectiveness. Evaluate which aspects drive the most referrals and conversions, and identify areas for improvement. Continuously optimize based on data-driven insights to maximize effectiveness.

By automating these critical components of the referral process, businesses can enhance efficiency and impact, all while preserving the genuine and personal nature that makes referrals so valuable.

Define your triggers

Crafting a referral automation system from scratch demands time and resources, and not every business starts with a referral strategy. This is precisely where Reaz proves invaluable.

Reaz effortlessly integrates with your existing systems, or aids in establishing your referral strategy from the ground up. We manage the intricacies of automating referrals, ensuring timely connections with the right clients, all without adding to your workload.

Referrals become a seamless part of your operation, driving a constant stream of high-quality leads, boosting your conversion rates, and accelerating your business growth


Referrals have become an indispensable part of lead generation in today’s competitive market. With a strategic approach, focusing on who to ask, when to ask, and how to ask, and with the support of automation tools like Reaz, you can build a referral program that consistently generates high-quality leads. Embrace the power of referrals, and watch as your sales cycles shorten, your closing rates increase, and your average transaction values reach new heights.

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