Referrals: Lead generation’s gold dust

This week we’re continuing our rundown of the top 6 (and 2 worst) B2B marketing strategies for generating sales leads. When we’ve covered all eight strategies we’ll reveal which have proven to be the best in order of effectiveness and which ones, well, haven’t. 

We’ve helped our clients including Nasdaq, IBM, Hyatt Hotels, Intrado engage with small, mid and large enterprise organisations.

They’ve gotten into Apple, Disney, Gap, Amex, eBay, Deloitte, Ford, Google, Nike, Loreal, Fedex and countless other big names. That’s at the executive level, so CEO and COOs, whose calendars are booked months in advance. We know how to engage them so they’ll want to talk to you in the next few days. 

Today, we’re going to be looking at the pros and cons of referrals, but over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’re also going to be looking at:

  • Events and conferences
  • Webinars
  • Talking on stage
  • Telemarketing
  • Email
  • General content marketing


Referrals are like gold dust when it comes to lead generation. They’re rare, but incredibly valuable. 

As leads go, they’re about as warm as you can get, because the prospect already knows who you are, what you do, plus trust and credibility is already established.  

For the prospect, the risk of working with you is mitigated. They’ve already understood the results you’ve achieved for someone authoritative in their network. I’ve closed deals with referred prospects who’ve been looking at similar companies quoting $25,000 or $40,000 for their services. They go on to spend $140,000 with us, because they liked our story and so much of the risk is mitigated by the referral.

Referrals are much further along the path to a sale than other prospects if you subscribe to the BANT model – budget, authority, need, timing. Leads that need to be educated result in longer sales cycles and are more complex to close. It just doesn’t require as much salesmanship.

It’s like when you see someone speaking on stage at a conference. Afterwards, other people approach the speaker for a conversation, you want to go and join that crowd. 

The problem is how rare referrals are. It can be incredibly difficult to get referrals if you’re a new business and it can take years to build up enough raving fans to scale referrals, especially if you’re selling high ticket products. About 10% of our business comes through referrals, otherwise it’s mostly email marketing we go to. 

You’re likely missing out on a huge portion of your market too – those prospects who have no idea who you are or what you do.

Cold email is a great way to educate leads on what it is you do and bring them to a sales call much further along the BANT cycle than a lot of other methods. Check out our blog on email marketing to find out more.