How To Win More Referrals

Promotional product distributors can generate more quality referrals by giving clients incentives for providing connections to new prospects. Here’s how one distributor uses a fun brewery tour outing to reward referral givers.

Kimble Bosworth is in the enviable position of having clients compete to give her referrals.

The president of Proforma Printelligence (asi/491390) and her team generate the referral-giving by continually providing outstanding service – and through a special annual event they’ve created called the Proforma Hops On The Bus Customer Appreciation Brew Tour.

Bosworth and her staff invite 20 customers who have provided them the greatest referrals over the course of the last year to come on a catered, all-expenses-paid bus tour to several breweries in the Nashville area. To really sweeten the pot, Bosworth allows the top referrers to look at Proforma Printelligence’s client list and to select someone they would like to meet – usually someone they’d like to connect with for business. Bosworth then invites these people along for the tour, too. “We have customers,” says Bosworth, “who compete to be the best referral sources because they want to be invited back on the bus again.”

And with good reason: The tour is a hoot. It starts on a late afternoon with a tailgate featuring delicious food provided by a restaurant or caterer. At each brewery, tour goers soak up the suds, take tours and compete in fun games, from cornhole tournaments and Giant Jenga to Big Wheel races.

Naturally, there is no shortage of swag. Bosworth’s preferred supplier partners – who have representatives on the tour too – provide brewery-branded products for the beer makers and caterer to give away. This year’s giveaways included a pizza cutter, bottle cooler, T-shirt, mobile device charger and can cooler. Suppliers also give the breweries branded pens. Participating suppliers include Jetline (asi/63344), Navitor (asi/81500), Discount Labels (asi/49890), Norwood (asi/74400)/BIC (asi/40480) and IMAGEN Brands, parent company of Crown Products (asi/47700) and Vitronic (asi/93990). A truly non-stop good time, the fun continues on the bus between stops, with Proforma Printelligence conducting a light-hearted “awards” ceremony, handing out trophies (donated by a supplier) to clients for categories that range from “Largest Single Order” to the playfully quirky “Most Orders By Text Message.”

“Every minute is entertainment,” says Bosworth.

Ultimately, the tour wends to a famous honky tonk in downtown Nashville. There, tour participants enjoy more laughs with Proforma Printelligence before heading off into the Nashville night for good times in Music City.

As Bosworth notes, the Hops On The Bus Tour motivates current clients to provide referrals throughout the year, creating a steady flow of qualified new prospects. But there are other benefits, too. Proforma Printelligence increases, by 20% to 30% year-over-year, its sales of products from suppliers who provide swag for the tour. The breweries, honky tonk, caterer and bus tour company – all of which are Bosworth customers – appreciate the business and positive exposure, and thus become more loyal to Proforma Printelligence. This devotion leads to more referrals. “We also usually have one or two customers on the bus who ask us to recreate a similar experience tailored for their clients,” says Bosworth. “We have produced entire customer appreciation events for clients just because they liked this event.”


Now Watch:

Sales leader Colleen Stanley offers insight on how to overcome “referral aversion."