The Partnership Grow th Games Strategy to Increase Referrals from your Partners

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When I was VP of Growth for a few SaaS companies, I used to run these "Growth Games" (I called them) which were essentially internal spiff awards for anyone at the company who participated in helping us grow our presence online. 

It worked like this:

  1. First I'd pick a focus - i.e. a new integration launch. 
  2. Then I would create rewards for simple things anyone could facilitate in between tasks to help increase our exposure or conversions around said event. 
  3. Points would be awarded to team members for things like social post sharing, capturing review that mentions the integration, and publishing a blog about it... The more difficult the task, the more points awarded. 
  4. I'd get all the department heads a link to the rewards tracking sheet, and they would distribute the info and rules out to their teams.
  5. At the end of the month, money and other rewards would be given out to the point holders. 

It was a phenomenal way to not only increase the success of a launch, but it also brought departments together and boosted company morale. 

While I suggest you have your marketing team try that out, this article is going to help you understand: 

How you can increase the number of referrals your larger partners send you 📈

Before you read all of this, you should check out this article about commissions as an incentive.

This strategy is ideal for any organization, SaaS, or services provider, who have some budget for spiffs, and inactive or new partners who have salespeople. *This strategy is partner-approved by the way. It's a more engaging way than paying commissions to incentivize partners to refer. 

Here's what you will need to execute this strategy: 

  • A tier or service that's over $10K 
  • Partnerships - active or not
  • Partners with a sales and success team
  • CEO and CRO buy-in
  • A budget of $20K over 6 month period to use for spiffs
  • A Partnerhub® account or other means of capturing referrals from your partners
  • AP software for larger one-time payments to contracts 

This is a great strategy to use if you are amongst those progressive companies who do not pay commissions on referrals, but instead use incentives like referrals and co-marketing to keep partners engaged.

The strategy: To create a few month-long partner team member spiffing campaign, with a set budget, in an effort to get that partner to try and refer their current customers all at once. 

The reason to try it: Blanket incentives are expected, typical, usually do not create any urgency to refer, and forgettable. A campaign and promotion that is ephemeral, unique, and valuable... This type of promotion will incentivize your partners' department heads to encourage their teams to participate. 

Step 1 = Gain internal buy-in and create the rules

You will need at least CEO or CRO or CFO approval of this campaign. It's going to cost money, and come with some requirements from your leadership. My suggestions - make the purse some notable figure like $10,000 of available spiffs per partner. Remember, the money can only be earned during the campaign, and only if a closed referral is attributed. And, the rules should require the participating partner has a CS or Sales team because this is going to cost your org time and energy up front, so those participating should have a team of people to spiff if/when they want to participate. 

Step 2 = Create a list of partners you want to include

This list should be partners who have a sales and/or CS team. This will ensure they have enough participants to capture the entire purse. List out the POC's and any other details about them. Then, prioritize. I suggest starting with a "friend" partner who would not be upset if the campaign did not take root or succeed. 

Step 3 = Create a form, calendar page, or full landing page about the promotion

I suggest a full page with a note from your CEO to show the authenticity and exclusivity of the offer. But a form with a detailed explanation or a calendar page would suffice. 

Step 4 = Draft the first invite, and get it approved

The strategy will not work if this spiffing offer becomes a blanket part of your incentives for all partners anytime. 
This should be written as an exclusive invite-only offer, approved by the CEO (if not from the CEO), and for a specific timeframe. 

Step 5 = Reach out to the first partner

Going back to your list - who do you trust to give it a solid try and not fault you if it doesn't take? Get that partner involved as the flagship. This first participant will also become the case study if it goes well, so ask them ahead of time if they would provide quotes and feedback if it does go well. 

Step 6 = Create the assets and block the time you need to help get the first participant ramped into the campaign

With this first partner, you will want to create anything they need to help get their team rallied around the promotion and involved. This could be anything from emails... to tracking templates... to graphics... Your first participant should help you understand what's needed. It will build from there.

Step 7 = Execute the trial promotion

Start with a stakeholder meeting with your partner to agree on the internal promotions and understand the attribution system. This could be form on your website, PRM, Partnerhub®, or a shared Slack channel. Whatever you decide on, make sure it's agreed and your partner is excited about it before you start. If they are not excited, then their team won't be. 

Step 8 = As soon as it's working, reach out to the next partner

Using the results from the first success, and knowing your capacity, reach out to and book the next promotions. With each new growth game, you will get better and more efficient. Eventually, this can be done with more and more partners per quarter. 

Step 9 = Send the opportunity and link all partners with the minimum requirements

When you have successful results, the process mastered, and you know your capacity, you should be able to let all of your partners and prospective partners know the requirements and get booked for an upcoming slot.  

Step 10 = Publish the results

Finally, why not share this success in your newsletter and on social at least? You're partners have done well, and your potential partners should see that. 


If done correctly, you should see a more dramatic upshift in referrals and overall activity within your partner program than a blanketed commission payment incentive would provide. 

You can find and manage most of this inside Parnterhub® today. You will be able to manage the entire campaign in Partnerhub® soon.

Please let us know ( if you test this out! 

We are working with a few companies right now who are continuing to use this strategy.