84% of B2B relationships start with a referral

QUESTION – how do I maximise repeat business and referral rates?

THOUGHT – develop and leverage relationships

Research completed in 2018 found that 84% of B2B relationships start with a referral. This serves to highlight the importance of referrals, particularly in the B2B environment.

Another study found that while 91% of customer say they’d give referrals, only 11% of salespeople ask for them. This highlights the failure of salespeople to leverage referrals.

Another study found that 77% of businesses do not think they are fully leveraging the potential of their customers. This points to a missed opportunity to drive repeat business and referral.

Establishing a strong relationship between the purchaser, the business, and its relevant personnel is central to maximising referrals. Relationships can help overcome the failure of sales staff to leverage existing customers fully. Relationships drive repeat business and referrals.

In driving repeat business and referrals, few things are more important than the relationship developed with the customer. Three critical factors in developing and maintaining a strong relationship with clients are:

  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Community

It is important to demonstrate to customers that the business and key staff care about them and are absolutely committed to ensuring delivery of all promised outcomes. This involves following up the purchase to ensure all is well, responding promptly to questions and queries from customers, and providing excellent after sales service. Getting what you pay for is instrumental in repeat purchase and referral.

Communication might start with saying thank you, but it also involves listening and learning. Securing feedback from the customer helps fine-tune the customer experience. It is also essential in terms of identifying future needs and ensuring that the customer knows you are listening.

Brand communities are becoming increasingly common around the world. Indeed, some 61% of corporates in the United States now report having, or being in the process of building, a brand community. Brand communities and online communities, in general, can facilitate relationships, not just with customers but also between customers – enabling customers to reinforce each other.

Enabling the development of relationships requires:

  • Technology
  • Expertise
  • Awareness

Customer Relationship Management technology can be very beneficial indeed, as can community platforms that facilitate the development of brand communities.

It is vital that the staff have the skills to develop relationships and an awareness of the importance of those relationships. Relationships are ultimately between individuals.


Place the highest priority on developing relationships with customers and leverage the potential to drive repeat business and referral through these relationships.

Develop a commitment to customer outcomes, a focus on communication, and the capacity to develop a community – and have the required technology, expertise, and staff awareness.


Super Office, Shaun Buck, Saasquatch, Hubspot, ShareSomeFriends, Journal of Marketing, Nielsen, Texas Technical University, INC and Customer Experience Insight


MORE THOUGHTS – www.djohncarlsonesq.com 

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