“Tell me a little more about your business.” It’s a simple request that generates simple answers — 70-90 percent of sales generated come from workers, focused relationships, and referrals. The conversation gets a little trickier with the follow-up questions, particularly this one: “What’s stopping you from accelerating revenue growth?”

This week, we sit down with David Rush, the CEO of SmallWorld for a discussion on the business relationships that drive and generate revenue. What are the misconceptions about referrals, who generates them, how do you start a referral program, and what do they mean for your business?


  • Activating Your Employees – When starting a referral program, sometimes the best place to start is your employees. They have relationships with peers from past and current projects, and incentivizing your employees first will set the stage for a referral structure. 
  • Extended Networks of Trust – Workers find jobs often from professional connections. No matter what, though, there is a level of trust that always has to be established before that referral takes place. 
  • Keeping Connections Intact – How do you rate your relationships? Are they strong with multiple referrals to consider, or do they have a weaker extended network? Making connections is important, but establishing and understanding their value is just as crucial.
  • Keep it Timely – Revenue is important, but time is just as valuable. In building trust, you always have to ensure the work you’re asking a person to put in to review a referral is worth their time. Anything less than a useful referral can feel like time wasted, which has long-term effects on business relationships.


  • Attention to Detail – Staying in tune with the metrics that work for your business makes for better leadership, and ultimately better workflows for your team.
  • Accelerating Growth through Active Participation – Leading by example, with the expectation that others will do as you do, produces consistent results across the board that will ensure growth. Ultimately, a team values and trusts a leader that works just as hard at referrals and relationships.
  • Rate Your Relationships – ‘Relationship leads’ are the actionable, high-conversion referrals that have a lasting impact on your business. But how are they tracked? It depends on the metrics of your business – be it revenue growth, visibility, or both. Setting the stage and ensuring your team effectively tracks data makes for more comprehensive growth.
  • Nurture Relationships – Programs fail due to one-sided relationships and unmet expectations. Understanding the structure of incentives and regularly updating them not only keeps partners interested… it shows that you value their time.


  • Referral Programs
  • Relationship Building
  • CRM Software
  • ZoomInfo
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Lead Generation


For David, referral programs are a crucial component of business growth. In his experience, any sales marketing team needs to look at the size of a pipeline and its quality. 

When looking into conversion rates, David sees that people will say “yes” to 83% of referrals, and the actual meeting is scheduled about 71% of the time. Compared to other methods (like the dreaded cold outreach), the effectiveness is not only greater, but the meetings take place quicker. 

In business, weeks are always better than months when it comes to making deals. That type of success doesn’t come without an effective referral system, which David and the team at SmartWorld continue to perfect. 

A bit more about David:

David Rush is the CEO of SmallWorld, a company dedicated to unlocking relationships available to companies for warm introductions and referrals and, in doing so, reducing the cost of customer acquisition. David is an entrepreneur in heart and practice, having previously held executive roles at tech companies like Earshot and DialogueTech. David was inspired to develop SmallWorld through a passionate belief that connection drives growth and ultimately has a direct impact on top-line revenue. 

Connect with David:

Connect with Mike & Gaby @ Proofpoint Marketing:

Proofpoint Marketing Website: www.proofpoint.marketing


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