B2B Referral Programs

You may think that referral marketing is only beneficial for B2C companies, but it’s also applicable to B2B businesses. Even decision-makers in B2B companies rely on trusted sources when considering a purchase, and recommendations from those sources can significantly influence their decision-making process.

Establishing a relationship with your customers is an important factor to succeed in B2B marketing. However, you must first earn their trust, and implementing a referral program can help you since customers tend to trust their peers.

B2B referral marketing involves engaging your loyal customers to recommend your product or service to others. You can implement this strategy through word-of-mouth recommendations or through formal B2B referral programs.

Usually, organic referrals happen when your customers recommend your product to others without any kind of incentives. However, it would be difficult to build a marketing strategy from it and you can’t generate regular revenue from it.  

This is why it’s important for you to establish a B2B referral marketing program that will allow you to generate more leads and monitor your referral sales from your existing customer base.

The Importance of B2B Referral Programs

B2B referrals are a great source of revenue for your business, as evidenced by a study published in the Harvard Business Review. They found out that up to 84% of B2B sales come from referrals. Additionally, B2B customers who were referred are four times more likely to convert and make a purchase, and have a 16% higher lifetime value compared to those who weren’t referred.

In the B2B industry, the buying decisions of your customers usually involve bigger purchases and a more extended sales process. So, a trustworthy recommendation holds significant value and plays a critical role in your business.

Tips on Building an Effective B2B Referral Program

B2B purchases involve a high level of personalization. Your customers will need thorough information about how your product or service will meet their requirements and will need assistance in every part of the sales funnel.

In order to ensure that your B2B referral program is successful, you have to make a plan and outline the most important aspects required before you launch it.

Have A Great Product or Service Worth Sharing

Your customers are more likely to recommend your product or service to others only if they’ve had a positive experience with your business. This begins with an excellent product and exceptional service. There are several ways for you to determine if your customer is satisfied enough to refer your product to their peers.

Firstly, you can evaluate your customer retention rate. If your retention rate is high, this usually means that your customers are satisfied and are more likely to recommend your product or service. Additionally, you can check your online customer reviews and look at the positive reviews your business has received, and what they’re saying about it.

You can also observe your existing customers as some of them may already be recommending your products to their colleagues.

Acquire A Strong Customer Base

Your loyal customers can promote your business more effectively. This is why it’s crucial for you to provide support at every stage of their journey, rather than leaving them after you have completed a sale.

Don’t hesitate to go the extra mile for your customers and pay attention to their feedback. You can even gather reviews on both your strengths and areas for improvement. By doing these, you can provide tailored services to each of your customers, enhance their experience, and make each of them highly valued.

Nurturing these strong connections will lead to increased customer satisfaction, which is key to generating more referrals for your business.

Create Straightforward B2B Referral Program Messages

Since your clients have busy schedules, it’s necessary that your B2B referral program’s messages are clear and straightforward. You should be able to communicate clearly what you’re requesting from them, the benefits they’ll receive, and your program’s rules.

B2B referral programs example showing clear and straightforward message.

Incorporate a Compelling Call to Action (CTA)

It’s important to make sure that your CTA stands out and is easily visible on your page. It should grab your customer’s attention, whether it’s in the form of a headline, button, or other elements. Your CTA should encourage them to participate in your referral program.

Mainstreet did a great job of including an eye-catching headline that states what their customers will receive if they refer, and a simple yet clear button that motivates the users to take action.

B2B referral program from Mainstreet stating that you will get $200 for each startup you refer.

Create an FAQ That Contains All the Relevant Information

By including an FAQ section on your referral program page, you can keep your customers informed about your program’s features and expectations. The FAQs have a clear and concise structure, which allows you to give more in-depth information. This way, you can include your B2B referral program’s terms and conditions, while keeping the primary referral page clean and simple.

A great example is Google’s G Suite Referral Program. They developed an FAQ to assist in resolving any issues and simplify the sharing process.

B2B referral program showing an FAQ from Google's G Suite.

Examples of Successful B2B Referral Programs

Referral marketing is certainly not a new concept, and you may have known it before as word-of-mouth marketing. Today, digital marketing has expanded opportunities for your customers to share their recommendations and reviews.

In order to maximize the full potential of your customers promoting your brand, you should implement a B2B referral program. Here are a few examples of brands that have incorporated referral programs into their B2B marketing strategies.

Google Workspace (G Suite)

Google introduced G Suite in 2006 as a complete set of cloud computing, collaboration, and productivity tools. The suite is made up of numerous tools that you most likely are using today. Some of these tools include Google Drive, Docs, Calendar, Sheets, Gmail, and many more.

Despite G Suite being backed by the branding of the world’s most popular search engine, Google still had to market these tools when they were first introduced in 2006.

B2B referral program from Google workspace.

To get more people talking about G Suite, they introduced a referral program that offered a monetary reward to new users who signed up through a link shared by their existing users. If a new user signed up using your referral link and fulfilled the program’s terms, you’ll receive a cash reward of $15.


The email marketing software, GetResponse, has a two-tiered referral program wherein both the existing and new customers receive $30 credit toward their subscription when a referred business signs up. Additionally, if you refer three businesses that result in sales, you’ll receive a free digital marketing certification course typically valued at $200.

B2B referral program from GetResponse.


As a provider of software and services, Blackbaud has established a reputation in the non-profit sector, particularly in fundraising. Their brand revolves around the concept of giving back, which they extended to their B2B referral marketing program. To qualify as a Blackbaud Champion, you must establish connections through their Champions Hub network, which will enable you to earn reward points.

By facilitating these connections, Blackbaud provides users with an extensive rewards catalog, including incentives such as product discounts, event invitations, and other valuable offerings that can be redeemed using the accumulated reward points.

B2B referral program from Blackbaud.

Blackbaud is a good example of a business that offers a wide range of rewards to their participants. Their B2B referral program is simple, and will only require you to fill out two text fields to enroll. Their program has proven to be effective, as evidenced by their partnership with Microsoft, wherein they’re expanding to revamp the non-profit industry.


Airtable is a cloud-based organizational and collaboration software that has a unique B2B referral program. Their B2B product is sold on a per-user basis, so professionals are encouraged to recommend the software to their colleagues at their organization, as well as other companies.

Whenever someone you refer signs up for Airtable, you will receive $10 in Airtable credits, which you can use to upgrade your workspace to a premium plan.

B2B referral program from Airtable.

The rewards are cumulative, which means that if you were able to refer enough people to upgrade to the premium version, you’ll be able to use your own paid account for free for years. From Airtable’s standpoint, this B2B referral highlights the benefits of paid plans.

When someone refers a few peers and receives free access to the paid plan, they are more likely to purchase the paid version once their trial period has ended, or they may even share it with other peers to accumulate more free access time.


FreeAgent is a small business accounting software that has a great referral program for its customers. If you refer someone who becomes a paying customer, both you and the new customer are eligible for a 10% discount on your subscription. What sets this discount apart is that it lasts as long as both parties remain with the company.

B2B referral program from FreeAgent.

Since the referral incentive is a recurring discount, you may wonder how FreeAgent motivates its customers to make multiple referrals. Well, the answer is that the program allows customers to accumulate discounts by receiving an extra 10% off their subscription for every successful referral who remains subscribed.

After making ten referrals that lead to successful subscriptions, you can now qualify to earn commission fees for further referrals. This means that you can become a partner or an affiliate of FreeAgent and receive compensation for promoting the product.


The examples above show how a compelling referral marketing program can enhance the sign-up rate for your B2B business. If done well, it can help eliminate the need for redundant marketing tactics, which will lead to cost saving on advertising.

Always remember to provide exceptional customer service, as this is one of the key factors to encourage your customers to refer your product or service, and make your referral program a success.

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