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The Shocking ROI of Referral Sales Programs

3 min readSeptember 17, 2013

While there are many sales organizations that have cold called their way to success, recent data indicates that a referral strategy can be far more effective. In a referral program, partners recommend your goods or services to to their prospects and customers. The idea is that if a lead has already has done business with your partner, and your partner vouches for you, then that lead will be more likely to do business with you.

How much more likely? According to Sales Benchmark Index, B2B referrals are twice as likely to close as marketing qualified leads! And not only that, referral programs also boast an ROI that’s 300-400% better than all other types of campaigns combined.

Here at Revenue.io, we’ve seen first-hand how valuable referral traffic from our partners can be. And by using call tracking, you’ll always know the ROI of calls that are delivered by referral partners.

Track Referral Traffic

While referral selling undoubtedly has delivered huge ROI gains for some companies, is it the best program for your business? We recommend that you find out for yourself. Our call tracking system can help you calculate referral ROI and even enable you see how much ROI a particular partner is driving for you over the telephone.

Do you have 12 referral partners? No problem! In just minutes you can provision a unique phone number for each of your partners. They can give that number to prospects, use it on their website and on other collateral. You can also provision unique phone numbers that can be dynamically displayed on your site when leads click through to your site from a partner’s URl. And as leads come in from each partner, you’ll see the results in real time.

Why Referral Programs Rock

Referral prospects turn into customers between 50% and 70% of the time. So what makes referred leads the holy grail? When prospects hear good things about your offerings from a source they already trust, it goes a long way. Think about it – are you more likely to see a movie that a trusted friend or critic said is awesome, or one you know nothing about? Likewise, referral selling eliminates gate keepers, directly connecting your reps with key decision makers. And those decision makers are walking into the conversation with an expectation that your company delivers value.

Maximize Referral ROI

The first step to building a killer referral program is, quite simply, to make sure that your partners believe in your offerings. This entails choosing partners for whom you’ve delivered real results. That way, they’ll be more inclined to say great things about your business. It’s equally important that when a partner hands you a lead, that you provide a premium sales experience. Remember that each time a partner sends a prospect your way they’re putting their own reputation on the line. Making the prospect happy will make your partner happy, and help ensure future referrals. It often also pays to offer your partners referral incentives. Giving your partners a commission or discounts when they refer prospects can inspire them to do so more often.

Prove the Source of Every Lead

Nothing can muck up an affiliation faster than discrepancies about lead origin. Imagine a scenario in which one of your partner’s customers independently finds your business through one of your paid search campaigns. After they sign up with you, your partner erroneously demands a commission. This is a situation I’ve seen before. But it is one that can be easily avoided. By using phone call tracking, you’ll always know which phone leads come from specific referral partners and which arrive from other sources. All that data is logged in Salesforce. And if you have affiliate partners, Revenue.io can log calls and store call recordings in Salesforce to keep records of when you refer leads to affiliate partners.