Elevate Your Efficiency and Boost Sales by Automating your Referral Tracking Process with Microsoft CRM

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Firms are always looking for ways to generate more referrals for their sales reps. Sales management and marketing executives in particular are always working hard to forge relationships with strategic partners and external referral sources to send them more leads. Additionally, companies are always trying to figure out more effective ways to encourage front-line, client-facing employees to identify possible leads for one of their sales colleagues to follow-up with and further qualify. For instance, in the Banking industry, Tellers and CSRs are often rewarded for uncovering a referral to pass on to a Relationship Banker, Investment Specialist, or Loan Officer. As an example, the Teller may learn in friendly conversation at the Teller window that one of their frequent visiting customers is about to buy a house. Thus, the Teller suggests and gets the customer to agree to receive a call from the local Mortgage Officer concerning mortgage rates and to submit a loan application. While many firms share the need to track internal referrals, they often struggle in keeping track of the referral entries and outcomes. This blog post will touch on some of the core challenges that companies have with referrals and how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help automate the referral tracking and reporting process.


First of all, many organizations utilize spreadsheets to track their referrals. Often, there is a master keeper of the spreadsheet and referrals and results are updated every so often. Anytime spreadsheets are involved, the cumbersome data entry is prone to human error, the spreadsheet may not always be kept out in the open for review by anyone at any point in time to assess progress, and the results really could be stale. How the referral gets from one employee to another usually varies across firms. For instance, many will send an informal email, some will fill out a dedicated referral form and physically pass it on to their peer, others will fill out a form in SharePoint and then email it, some will walk down the hall or call, others will tell the spreadsheet master who then is supposed to tell the person receiving the referral (not advised!), while others will do all of the above. In any of these scenarios, there is usually an inconsistent process followed, a delay in the referral announcement and follow-up, and limited accountability.

With so many different referral delivery methods being utilized and no sense of urgency, many interested prospects and customers are unfortunately not contacted fast enough before they decide to go in another direction and pursue another solution. Though such “wasted” referrals are never officially entered into the official Sales Pipeline Forecast, an opportunity to win more business and boost revenues is definitely lost. Moreover, after the referral is sent, the referrer or management never really knows the outcome of the referral follow-up activity. Sure, people sending over referrals want to get compensated for their efforts, but they also just want to receive a status update as some sort of reassurance that their hard work and contributions are valued and are being recognized. In the case of management and executive leadership, they desire the referral results because they absolutely need to know the performance of all facets of their business at all times in order to meet the demands of clients, shareholders, board of directors, and other stakeholders. After all, if these non-worked/delayed referrals and lost opportunities accumulate, an industry leader can quickly drop back to the pack by the end of next quarter and an executive can be out of a job soon thereafter.

Customer Effective and Microsoft Dynamics CRM eliminate these challenges by enabling firms to automate key portions of their referral tracking. An internal referral can be entered directly in CRM by the referrer, such as the Bank Teller. Any supporting details and background of the conversation that led to the referral can be captured. If the most appropriate specific product is not identified at the time the referral is generated, a more general need or product category can be noted. After the referral is submitted, the employee receiving the referral, such as the Banker, can receive an automated email notification via a workflow that requests the immediate follow-up. Based on the follow-up attempts and the client’s level of interest, the referral tracking stage and completion dates can also be automatically updated in CRM. Furthermore, should an actual potential revenue-generating Opportunity arise from the Referral, the Opportunity details can be entered and viewable directly on the custom Referral form as seen below.

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Regardless of if one is on the origination or receiving side of the referral process, employees will always have a running log of their open and closed referrals available at their disposal. Staying with the Banking theme, here is a sampling of some Referrals that I am still working:

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Having the referral tracking process centrally located in CRM fosters more collaboration, encourages more proactive referral seeking and follow-up behavior, and instills more accountability. Finance departments will also benefit in that they will have find it much easier to run their compensation calculations. They can filter by employee or branch and divvy out rewards based on number of referrals, number of referrals that led to new money, or both. Let’s not forget that Branch Managers and Executives will also be able to use this newfound business intelligence to better track referral results and more effectively coach and motivate employees to generate and capitalize on referrals. Since there is a more uniform and automated process, sales reps receiving the referral will be more organized and spend less time entering, updating, and trading phone calls to provide updates on the outcome of the referrals. Not only will the sales reps be more productive, but they will also be more prepared to follow up on the referral because they will have the complete client profile right at their fingertips in CRM.

If you are still manually prodding with how you track referrals in your organization, please contact info@customereffective.com. Our extensive team of seasoned CRM consultants can share with you how we have helped other leading firms streamline and automate their lead generation, referral, and sales pipeline tracking to enhance efficiencies, inspire more internal competition, and significantly grow revenues.

Post by: Kevin Wessels, Customer Effective

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