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How to Track Inbound Referrals

How to Track Inbound Referrals

So you have the whole tracking process down for analyzing Marketing Generated (Website, Advertising, etc.) and Sales Generated (Calls by Sales) leads.

And then some weird leads start popping into your reports that you are not sure how to analyze. You do a little analysis and find out these are referral leads. Where do these fit?

The Referral Lead

How to track marketing referrals

Let’s dive a little deeper into referral leads and the challenge with tracking them. For this post’s purposes, a referral lead is a lead that is referred to your Sales rep by another person.

For example, let’s say an inbound Google ad lead named Jon White requested an eval and is tagged as “Marketing Generated”. Marketing has invested in that lead and wants to track its success through the system. Now the tricky part…Sales calls the lead and is told Jane Smith is actually the best person to work with. Sales then enters Jane into the system manually which usually defaults to “Sales Generated.” Jane is then converted to an Opportunity.

In this scenario, the marketing investment tracking would be lost for future success since Jane is the person being worked. Jane is arguably miscategorized as “Sales Generated” when she is actually something else. Plus, Jon is orphaned from the success as he is tossed to the side.

The Solution – Set Process with the Sales Reps

A solution for tracking marketing referrals

Sorry, there is no great automated way to track these leads. You must establish a process and train your reps on what they need to do when a referral lead comes their way.

Here is one solution but feel free to customize for your own organization. The below is simple to implement and sounds straight forward. However, changing behavior for a Sales rep takes time.

  • For the newly created lead that comes from a referral, the rep must pick “Referral” as the Lead Source upon creation. This choice then brings up two dependent values in the CRM.
    • Generated Source: The rep makes a decision of “Marketing Generated” or “Sales Generated” based on the lead. In our example, Jane would get a value of “Marketing Generated” because the original lead came from Marketing. If the original lead came from an outbound calling campaign, the rep would enter “Sales Generated.”
    • Lead Source Details: The rep then fills in some information on how the referral came into the system.  For Jane, the rep would enter something like “Referred by Jon White-Google Adv.” You could try coming up with a naming convention for reps to follow but be happy if they fill in anything.
  • If an opportunity is created, the rep should also add the original lead to the opportunity in order to capture the influence of the Advertising contribution.

Your New Referral Insights

Following the above process properly places leads into the “Marketing Generated” and “Sales Generated” buckets. Additionally, marketing gains insight into how many leads are referred in this manner while also tying in the influence of the original lead.

If you find referrals are playing more than a minor part in your Sales process, you may want to take the next step of providing additional incentives for reps to build out accounts as part of an overall account-based marketing strategy.

Example: December Referrals

  • Referral by Jane Smith-Advertising
  • Referral by Cindy Black-Webinar
  • Referral by Tom Sullivan-Website

If you are tracking referrals differently, please share some of your best practices in the comments below.

Thanks to Jen Perkins over at Motus for submitting this question. If you have a question you would like answered, please email

About Jeff Coveney

Jeff is an accomplished marketing expert with more than 20 years success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology organizations. Jeff is the founder of RevEngine Insider and regularly consults via RevEngine Marketing.
  • Grant

    Hi Jeff – thanks for the post. I’ve actually found that making sales reps do follow a process like the one that you describe is not easy – they are just so prone to error!

    Instead, I create a custom button in SFDC called “New Referral” and ask the reps to press it to create a new lead from a referral.

    Pressing the button fires off a “Flow” in SFDC that opens a screen – a form really – that asked what the new lead’s name, email, title, etc are. And then the Flow creates a new lead for them. The beauty of this method is that we simultaneously have lots of data transfer from the old record to the new – everything from lead source, and lead source detail. You can even associate the new lead with a campaign of the old lead.

    Should I do a detailed write-up? This is all button-click admin stuff – no code!

    • jcoveney

      Love it. Cleaner than what I suggested. As we both know, having Sales reps follow an exact process can sometimes be a challenge. Your one-button solution takes away some of that manual process. If you write something up (either a post or simple directions), would love to post for our readers. Or write a post on your blog and I’ll reference. Thanks Grant.

  • Dennis Fox

    Like the discussion here.
    I speak and advise SMB as well as some enterprise level firms on How to get Referrals and Introductions…and want to integrate the training with a more advanced tracking system.
    Anyone know who has put together this?