Sales & Marketing Quick Guides for MSPs: Referrals and Testimonials

82% of SMB owners say referrals are their primary source of new business. Learn how to leverage the power of happy referring clients to both gain new leads, and support your content marketing and sales strategies with glowing testimonials.

The most important thing about sales, marketing, and the way you do business is how you make people feel. One satisfied client can quickly turn into more, but these word-of-mouth recommendations can fall by the wayside without an easy way to refer their peers. Maximize the trust, relationship, and results you’ve already achieved with existing clients to grow new opportunities.

In this quick guide:

  • Create an ongoing referral program with three simple steps.
  • Build on the value of client cheerleaders to enhance sales and marketing.
  • Amplify your clients’ voices across your digital footprint to target verticals, customize sales calls, and overall boost profits.

The Best Thing About a Referral Could Be The Referrer

Simply put, a referral is one person recommending something to another person. However, a referral can be the start of so much more in sales and marketing. Not only do client referrals give your sales team a lead to follow up on, but it identifies a happy client – and that can be more valuable than the lead. What could be better than a client who is naturally singing your praises to colleagues and peers? They are basically acting as an extension of your sales and marketing team, and that’s an experience you’re going to want to share everywhere. More on maximizing referrers later…

3 Steps to Creating An Ongoing Referral Program

Focusing on referrals as a central component to driving new business does require some initial time and effort. However, it can be a great set-it-and-forget-it (ish) lead generation tool for MSPs with limited sales and marketing teams. Utilize these three easy steps to build a basic referral program and customize, optimize, and adjust based on how your clients respond.

86% of B2B companies with a structured referral program in place experience more revenue growth and 71% report higher conversion rates. Yet, only 30% of B2B companies have some sort of formal referral program in place.” Influitive & Heinz Marketing

What Is A Referral Program?

A program for serving up fresh referrals and identifying your loudest promoters is to establish an ongoing referral program. A referral program allows existing clients to recommend your services to similar businesses. It takes a word-of-mouth recommendation to the next stage by formalizing an introduction between your MSP and a prospective SMB. This does require action on the part of your clients, so you need an incentive and an easy process. Also critical to a fruitful program is your follow-up strategy.

#1: Name Your Reward – What will clients get for making a referral?

A cash card, Amazon gift card, or something similar is the obvious first choice. The amount you choose should be based on your average cost per lead. How much is a lead worth to your MSP? $5? $25? $50? That’s up to your MSP to decide but consider that it’s just a lead. It’s not necessarily a qualified lead, but it’s also not a cold lead. If cash doesn’t feel comfortable, consider swag, a gift basket, or lunch for the office. Whatever it is, it needs to be attractive to your clients.

Some businesses sweeten the offer for warmer leads with a bigger payout based on the prospect of becoming a client. Once the deal is sealed, maybe your referring client gets a discount on their next bill, a larger cash payout, or marketing development funds (MDFs). The incentive needs to pique clients’ interest enough that they’re willing to make the referral but not so much that you’re losing money if the referral doesn’t go anywhere.

#2: Provide an Easy Process – How will clients make the referral?

At a minimum, you need a dedicated web page with form fields to capture both the referring client’s contact information and the referral’s contact information. Include additional fields like the prospect’s role, the name of the business, the size of the company, and the industry or vertical they serve to gain qualifying information. You can also take advantage of your client’s willingness to participate in the referral program and ask an additional question about why they’re making a referral. For example, what makes them think their referral is a good fit for the MSP?

With that said, be cautious about how much you’re asking of your clients. The length and depth of your referral form should reflect the incentive provided. It’s a delicate balance between asking enough that the lead is valuable and asking so much that the process becomes time-consuming and off-putting to clients.

Axcient’s Partner Referral Program >>

#3: Follow-Up – Who, how, and when will when you reach out?

The other half of a rolling referral program, and perhaps the most important, is the process for following up with referrals. Assuming your referral program is regularly collecting leads – and it should be via client outreach in email campaigns, business reviews, contact with account representatives, social media posts, and website prompts – an automated alert system for new referral submissions is ideal. Identify a capable member of your sales team to reach out to these leads within a day or two of receiving the referral.

You want to engage your new lead as soon as possible to show that your MSP is responsive, helpful, informative, and can serve a valuable role in their business outcomes. Create a referral-specific outreach campaign using phone calls, emails, LinkedIn connections, and InMail to introduce them to your MSP and get the conversation started. Even if they don’t respond immediately, you’ve gained a new lead to market to in the future.

Don’t forget about your referring clients! The last thing you want to do is upset an existing happy client by failing to deliver on your promise. Whatever incentive was identified as the hook for your referral program needs to be fulfilled. Again, automation is a huge help in streamlining a complete referral program without anything slipping through the cracks. Communicate quickly to thank them for the referral, set expectations for when and how they will receive their reward, encourage future referrals, and keep the conversation going…

Businesses with referral programs in place experience an average of 69% faster time to close. Furthermore, they also get a 59% higher lifetime value and 71% higher conversion rates for their clients.” Influitive & Heinz Marketing

Turning Referrers Into Promoters For New Business

When a client recommends your MSP, that client serves as a first-hand testimonial of the value of your business. Now that you know a client has had a positive experience with your MSP, it’s in your best interest to learn more. You need to reach out to your referring clients to provide their incentive, so why not use the opportunity to open the conversation?

Initially, find out what motivated your client to make the referral and build from there. Was it a specific product, service, level of support, or business outcome? Is there anything about their business that speaks to your target audience? Maybe their size, vertical, use case, or goals? Depending on what you discover, they might be the perfect spokesperson to highlight in a testimonial.

A testimonial can be as short as a couple of sentences written or spoken, or as involved as an in-depth exploration of your client’s complete journey. Regardless of how willing they are to engage, ensure the exchange is reciprocal. Maintaining a positive relationship with clients is more important than expanding five-star reviews or enhancing your website. Keep the incentives coming and build on the partnership

The top two channels for customer research are online reviews at 55% and company websites at 47%.” The Truth About Online Consumers by KPMG

Thanks to the internet and digital marketing, there are various ways to broadcast testimonials and let your clients do the talking for you. Here are just some of the ways you can make the most of a client’s praises:

  • Video interviews
  • Featured blogs
  • Podcast guests
  • Sound bites
  • Case studies
  • Survey results
  • Social media image posts
  • Email campaigns
  • Website callouts
  • Review websites

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Carissa Kohn Johnson Axcient

About the Author: Carissa Johnson // Product Marketing Manager, Axcient

Carissa Kohn-Johnson has a background in behavioral and physical healthcare technology and information technology and currently works as the Product Marketing Manager for Axcient. She has a lot of MSP Channel experience from planning and attending hundreds of conferences and tradeshows, and found her passion in technology and working with MSPs in particular. She serves on the Information Services Advisory Board for her community and feels most at home with other technology-forward people. Connect with her on LinkedIn – perhaps you can contribute to the Axcient blog?

More Great Stuff From Our Blog:

Check out some other interesting pieces from our blog: Check out Part One of our Sales and Marketing Quick Guide for MSPs: Lunch and Learns, Part Two of our Sales and Marketing Quick Guide for MSPs: LinkedIn,  Learn more about how Axcient supports partners with No-cost Onboarding and Ongoing Training, we dove into how chain-based backup works and why chain-free is the way to be, we talked with Jason Phelps from Huntress Labs about planning for the next ransomware attack, our CEO David Bennett explains why the current cybersecurity landscape means traditional backup is dead, or learn how you can ditch pricey on-site appliances with Local Cache for Direct-to-Cloud BCDR.