What incentives can I give business customers to sell my product to their network?


I have treated my first few business customers of my software product very well. They are senior managers of medium sized companites. My problem is that I cannot get them to sell my product in their network. I believe I need some kind of incentives to get them to do this. What kind of incentives should I offer?

Marketing Sales Incentives

asked Apr 6 '11 at 07:31
1,567 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Virtual bronze badges? ;) – Genadinik 13 years ago
  • Is this in scope with the products they normally sell? You would just be another vendor. – Jeff O 13 years ago
  • It is not in the scope of what they normally sell. I am selling a product, which improves their organization, systems and business model. – David 13 years ago

4 Answers


Not knowing what you are selling that can be pretty generic question, but much of the web has affiliate offers:

clickbank.com is an example of an affiliate market where Internet Marketers will sell your products for you for a cut.

For business partners setting up your own affiliate system like Raventools.com (bottom right) can be a good way to allow people to make a little money and create a mutually beneficial program.

They use shareasale, but I've heard great things about hasoffers.com

answered Apr 6 '11 at 07:44
Chris Kluis
1,225 points


You want your customers to sell your software for you? And your customers are senior managers of medium sized companites?

First, those medium sized companies probably have policies in place that prohibit their employees from taking cash, gifts, or other items from you, a vendor. Even if they don't have policies prohibiting this type of conduct, it seems to me to be a direct conflict of interest. I would be very surprised if the managers would accept payment. (I would fire my managers for doing this.) Second, it's your job to sell your product. Relying on others to make the sale for you probably will not work. Your product could make the sale itself- by being so good (or saving money, or saving time, or...) that the managers will immediately recommend it without being "paid". If they love it, they will help you sell it.

Without knowing more about your product it's hard to recommend a specific course of action.

answered Apr 6 '11 at 07:57
Gary E
12,510 points
  • I totally agree that it is unacceptable to pay the managers directly. In my experience, though, they don't sell it even if they love it, like in the private market. My guess is that this is because my product is rather new and a bit difficult to grasp. It does have good track record of making savings/increase sales in the companies though. – David 13 years ago


As a way to avoid some of the potential conflicts of interest cited by Gary E. you might want to focus on ways to reward people with your product.

Again, we don't have a lot of details, but if you have a multi-tiered offering you could give referrers access to higher tiers than usual. Similarly, with a SaaS product you might offer a month or two for free in exchange for a referral.

Because these sorts of incentives aren't in the form of actual cash, it will probably be more socially acceptable.

answered Apr 6 '11 at 08:23
413 points
  • Excellent tip! It could very well be something I would implement! – David 13 years ago


I think your challenge is the use of the word "pay" It has created a mental framework which I believe is getting inn the way of your desired outcome.

I don't believe you want them as vendors, distributor or resellers. I don't think you are seeking an affiliate program or anything of the sort.

I believe that you are seeking qualified referrals from a trusted advisor to your product.

If I am wrong -- stop reading now.
If I am right -- then here are some things to consider on how to dramatically increase the likelihood of earning a high quality referral.

You need to increase the association the senior managers feel with your product and service. You gain the referral not by initially asking for it -- but by building the connection, affiliation, and association the senior managers have with you, your product and your brand.


  1. Ask questions.
  2. Feature them in Case Studies.
  3. Get press in industry journals that highlight them rather than you as corporate innovators for adopting and using your solution.
  4. Create an advisory board -- and promote them as members. Treat them to dinner once a quarter.
  5. Create a special beta upgrade and invite them to participate and pay them a stipend (or make a donate in their name to a charity of their choice)
  6. Sign up to speak about the product at a conference and ask one of them to co-present with you.

Basically you are weaving them closer and closer to you.

As this association grows-- and they are reading your communications then you can start to reflect back to them the behavior you would like them to take. You talk about how a referral from someone they know resulted in a great case study for the product. You highlight and shine light on it. And you show a deep -- yet appropriate-- appreciation.

Good luck-- I hope you and the product earn the referrals you deserve from these customers.

answered Apr 6 '11 at 11:39
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
  • These are simply excellent suggestions! I expect to read this post, because it is a way of thinking that I am not good at. For the record, though, I did not use the word "pay", but you interpreted it correctly anyway. – David 13 years ago

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