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Here's How a Referral Sales Strategy Won Sebastian Fung $10,000 [Q&A]

signals-coach-10000-dollars-sebastian-fungWhether through initiating or participating, we've all been involved in a referral sales strategy. Groupon credits you $10 when you refer a friend. Dropbox expands your storage space. But for Sebastian Fung, referring Sidekick was an opportunity to win $10,000. 

We launched the "Sidekick challenge" at Dreamforce, an opportunity for anyone in sales to win $10K. The key to winning? Refer the most new users to HubSpot Sales (formerly known as Sidekick), a free Chrome extension that allows you to see who is opening and clicking your emails.

While we normally don't chat product in our blog content, we could't miss the opportunity to share the referral sales tactics Sebtasian employed to get more than people trying Sidekick and ultimately win his new pocket of cash. 

Q: Thanks for coming in to HubSpot, Sebastian! How did you first find out about Sidekick?

A: I first heard about Sidekick at INBOUND and heard about the contest from a friend. I had tried the tool and really liked it -- it seemed like an easy enough thing to get people started with that it made sense to try my hand at getting other people to give it a try.  

Q: What were some of the tactics you used to build up your referrals?

A: When I signed up for Sidekick, I got a referral link that I used to promote the contest. The first thing I did was head to bitly to see if I could get a good shortened link ... I ended up getting my hands on  bitly.com/getsignals, which is short, clean, and memorable.

I did a lot of different things to promote my link -- you could say that I tried a mix of inbound and outbound tactics. On the inbound side, I did some blogging, promoted it through social channels, and tried to target my messaging toward people who I thought would get a lot of value out of Sidekick. On the outbound side, I tried a couple of things too, just to see if they would work. I went to Starbucks and actually tried introducing the tool to some people through conversation. I also took every opportunity to introduce folks at the startup incubator our company is in (Betaspring) to Sidekick, which worked a lot better.  

Q: Pitching people at Starbucks -- how’d that work out for you?

A: Not that well. Even people who were open to hearing about it were pretty averse to installing software on their computer that was suggested to them by a stranger. Suggesting it to people at Betaspring worked much better. 

Q: What were some of the tactics that worked best?

A: The one tactic that really worked well was actually the most inbound tactic of the bunch that I tried. (And I’m not just saying that because I’m at HubSpot.) I noticed that some of the other people who were in the running for the prize were sharing their links through a bunch of channels -- in some LinkedIn groups, on Twitter, and in a few other places.

The thing was they were literally just tweeting the link with a line about Sidekick, taking a sort of scattershot approach. Instead of following what they were doing, I opted to blog. I wrote a couple of posts contrasting Sidekick with a similar tool and about Sidekick as a productivity tool. Both of these posts got a lot of organic traction, which is where most of my referrals came from.

Q: Any parting words of wisdom you’d like to share?

A: I think the biggest takeaway from the contest for me at least was that in order for people to listen and pay attention to you, what you are saying has to be relevant to them. It’s really simple, but so many people miss the mark on it. The things that worked best at generating referrals were the targeted activities.

Congrats to Sebastian, and thank you to everyone who participated in our Sidekick Challenge!

While these tactics worked for Sebastian, we have to wonder: Should sales reps be blogging? Can sales contests really help you close more deals? If you were Sebastian, what would you try differently? Share them in the comments!