Discover five of the top b2b referral program mistakes that can kill your referrals and erode growth.

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Usually I talk about how to think and approach marketing in a different way for better results whether those results are to get more customers, increase your conversion rate, differentiate your business, create content assets, etc.

But you also need to know about the factors that will erode your chance at generating new business by referral.

If you want your b2b referral program to thrive, watch out for these five referral marketing mistakes. Get them straightened out and you’ll get your referral program on the road to robust good health.

1. Not Expecting Referrals

The first way to screw up generating a flood of new business for your organization is not expecting referrals. What I’m really saying here is that referrals should be a condition of doing business with you. That’s right success starts with you—not the company, not your employees, and not your customers. From now on your mindset must be that you deserve referrals and you’re doing a disservice to your customers and strategic partners by not providing an easy way for their clients, family and friends to experience the same value or receive the same result as others.

2. Using a One Size Fits All Approach

Don’t be lazy and treat everyone the same. Your customers have very different reasons and ways they would like to refer you than your strategic partners. You need a whole separate approach and offers for customers and strategic partners. Create a targeted approach and offer for your most successful clients and related businesses who can be motivated to refer.

3. Saying That Anyone Who Has Money is a Referral

Want to receive the worst referral possible and waste your time? Just mention that anyone is a referral for you. You’ll find it very true, that what you communicate out in the world is what you get in return. You can’t blame your referral source for sending that bad referral. You can only blame yourself.

We can’t or shouldn’t ask for referrals anyway, until we tell our referral sources in great detail – exactly who makes a great referral for your business, why you deserve referrals, and what you are going to do with that referral.

4. Showing No Appreciation For the Attempt

This is something most marketing consultants don’t talk about: keeping your referral source motivated for the next one. Quite frankly I just have a different point-of-view on it. I believe that showing your appreciation for a referral that DOES NOT turn into a customer is one of the best ways to keep a source motivated to give you the next one. People who go out of their way to voluntarily tell someone about your business are generally motivated to do so because they like doing it rather than expecting something in return, but a simple show of appreciation is always a must.

5. Asking For Referrals

It’s been noted that, “you get more referrals by asking.” While I believe this is true, most dismiss the approach of what to ask for. Asking for referrals can get you plenty but the real point is to turn them into a new client.

The mistake most people make in the business of referrals is to ask for leads or referrals when they should be asking for introductions. If you want to make referrals a significant part of your lead generation you need to start asking for introductions and not just a list of names.

3 Keys to Asking Success

  1. The best time to ask for an introduction is when a client of yours is saying nice things about you. All you need to do to get the introduction is to then ask them how well they know ‘person x,’ and whether they feel able to give you an introduction.
  2. Provide a valuable piece of content to start the introduction. Being introduced is no guarantee that a relationship will then start to build. Therefore, you need to provide value and credibility before you actually meet. Never assume that the other person will take you up on your introduction.
  3. Instead of asking for a referral, ask for their advice. “I love working with people like you, particularly people who have x challenge. If you were in my position, what would you do to find more clients like you?”