While on a Zoom call with a new client this morning, somebody brought up that peer-to-peer recommendations are the ultimate way to fill the sales pipeline. This is true now more than ever. Generic word of mouth comes a very close second. In most industries globally, whether it is B2B or B2C, the engagement between peers that beneficially impacts your product or service sales is a clear win-win scenario.
It is often said that peer-to-peer recommendations are the best way for people to hear about your business. In this digital age of omnichannel communication, there are a myriad of ways for brands to expand their reach with outbound marketing strategies aimed at driving inbound leads. However, some lead generation efforts using diverse outbound channels can prove challenging and unrewarding.
One of the biggest problems plaguing most outbound lead generation tactics is that they often fall short of executive expectations. The only way many of these methods can fill your sales funnel is if there is a large enough pool of relevant prospects to target and thus draw from. Of course, outbound lead generation scenarios have a much better chance of being successful when using highly relative content that engages your prospects. Using the right content, at the right time, while targeting the right prospects can help immensely, however, nothing can replace peer to per recommendations.
Growing your business through targeted referrals and recommendations is the ‘holy grail’ of new business development. In this day and age of reviews and user-generated content, having a baseline goal of increasing your service levels to achieve referrals should be at the top of every organization’s list of priorities and far less challenging when your entire company is aligned with this goal. From the executive boardroom right down to the front lines, everyone should aim to find ways to increase referrals.
One aspect of recommendation marketing that is becoming increasingly significant is in the area of advocacy. Companies need to nurture clients who are passionate advocates of their brand or products. Even B2B companies are seeing substantial gains from building up their base of fans:
- 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decision. [USM]
- 61% of IT buyers report that colleague recommendations are the most important factor when making a purchase decision. [B to B Magazine]
- 56% of B2B purchasers look to offline word-of-mouth as a source of information and advice, and this number jumps to 88% when online word-of-mouth sources are included. [BaseOne]
At Puzzle Partner, we spend a great deal of our time working with our clients to develop customer success stories and case studies. Case studies are a powerful asset when it comes to establishing proof that what you are offering is valuable and will work for them as well. Whether you are a grassroots start-up or an established brand, you need to garner testimonials, gather tangible results, explore data from your best clients, then use it to develop content that drives leads. Panacea is when your products are purchased based on the influence of referrals rather than having your sales team relentlessly work the phones, send out email blasts, and use other forms of lead generation methods that have a low percentage of success.
Remember, while recommendations are something your clients share, it is not out of your control. What you do (and don’t do) has an enormous bearing, so being proactive is the key. Keep on delivering exceptional experiences that exceed expectations, and the referral portion of your lead generation strategy will continually grow, producing increased conversions and revenues.