My company has grown almost exclusively by developing, cultivating and supporting an network of trusted consultants who provide us referrals. It has worked out wonderful for us, and it works out great for them.
The key has been options.
Since they are operating as a "sales" channel for us, we allocate the portion of our pricing dedicated to sales to them. The amount is always calculated the same for each product/service line. For some product/service lines this is a flat fee per customer. Others isit is based on the total projected value of the customer. Others it is based on the value-added billing.
But we choose to provide them the option of how they would like to receive this. It is individaully based on what their own business model and preferences are. It is based on how they would like to communicate their business proposition to their clients.
The options we have used in the past include:
- Discount on the product/service to clients/customers referred through
them. "They pass on a best customer pricing"
- A monthly check to them for business consulting services.
- A contribution in their name to a nonprofit of their choice (most
common is a kid's school)
We have a written agreement with all individuals with whom we have this relationship.
It is an issue of value and values
As we work purely in the B2B space, we understand and appreciate that the trusted advisor network is the most important path of business development. We are jealous that our own Intellectual Property and relationships (social capital) is an important part of our own value proposition. We find it important to acknowledge and recognize that it is an important part of the value proposition of the people we work with as well.
It should be noted that there are costs associated with developing and maintaining this "go to market" strategy that can not be overlooked. And like most channels with wither and die without consistent and regular investment of time and resources.
In some industries -- like financial services -- and on some platforms -- like online affiliate networks -- this is a regulated process. Be sure that you follow all required laws for your industry. The bottom line is always provide, support and ensure transparency.