Sales Strategies: How to Make Your Customers Your Best Salespeople
As salespeople, we work hard to win new customers. That’s just fine. After all, hard work is part of being a sales professional. Looking for new prospects is also part of the “gig.” At times it’s easy to feel unsure of the new prospecting stone to turn over, the new pond to fish in, the next target to cold call. One of the best places to look for new customers may be one of the last you think about actively building upon – your existing customer base! Here are a few ideas that have helped us attract new prospects because of our highly valued clients while simultaneously validating our “why.”
The Power of 5 Star Customer Reviews
A few weeks ago, we highlighted the importance of your personal brand, especially in today’s fast-paced, largely virtual sales world. One area we discussed was building your profile and solidifying your professional reputation on LinkedIn and other social media outlets. Testimonials of your professionalism, knowledge, skill sets, and commitment to customer service help promote your best personal brand. Those online comments, validations, and star ratings can be a deciding factor for prospects who are debating whether or not to reach out.
The same concepts apply to your company and its reputation. Customer reviews of your company, the level of service provided, responsiveness, and successful resolution to problems, weigh heavily as prospects conduct searches for partners to fit their needs. Positive reviews represent easy referrals for those in the market searching for providers like you.
If you’re not quite sure about this, let’s try a quick experiment. Imagine you’re a potential buyer. Online search is a cinch these days – it’s one of the top two ways people find what they are looking for (the other being direct referrals from friends, colleagues, and peers). Think about the way you look at reviews before purchasing. If you’re like me, typically, I look at the 5-Star review bar first. Is the bar long, indicating there are many in the top category? If so, how many relative to the rest? If not, you’ve moved on without even reading a review!
Are reviews recent? Again, if none are more current than the past 1-2 years, forget it. It’s time to move one. If recent, what do they say? Variety in comments makes a difference, as much as similarity in recognizing satisfaction. For the most part, we probably skip the “in-betweeners” and focus on the 1’s and 5’s. What do the 1-Star reviewers say was so bad? Your best customers are the 5-Star review folks – their 5-Star Reviews will attract fresh, new prospects, who likely are similar to them!
Take action: ask your best customers to leave a raving review of what they liked best about your team on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, or other places you know prospects are searching. Some may not follow through, but all you need are a few to help out. Be sure to set this activity “Request Rave Reviews” in your CRM to occur at least 1X per month. Track your success, noting the leads that came in because of a great review.
Thank the customers who took action on your behalf with a personal thank you note and fun, branded company swag! Think Yeti coffee mug, sleek puffer vest – useful (and coveted) items they will love and that further promote your awesomeness.
Bring Customers Together (Get them talking about you!)
Another great way to make customers your best salespeople is to bring them together. Help them to connect by sponsoring events for them. Some of the best feedback, and most fun we’ve had with our clients, has come from sponsoring events where they connect and have the floor. These are a “win-win” for all. Here are a few ideas you can use to get your customers talking and sharing.
- Educational Webinars– ask three customers to be presenters in a 60-minute webinar. Let them share with others how your solutions and services have helped them to solve critical business problems. Peers love to know what others are doing and feel better knowing they share some of the same challenges. They appreciate talking freely about what worked. They also love to find out how other customers are growing and changing successfully with the common link – you!
- Customer Appreciation– recognize your customers for their valuable input that has changed how you deliver on their needs. Deliver the message together. Present it via a quick video, a webinar, or at an in-person event. Talk about the challenge and let them share how you resolved it. Praise your customer for bringing this to your attention and working with you to find success. Growing together makes customers great salespeople.
- User Groups– invite a fixed number of customers to be a part of your company’s user group, meeting four times annually. Your mission in each meeting is to get them talking about what you are doing well, areas you can improve, and their specific needs you may impact now and into the future. Hearing from your customers in a group setting, letting them talk and express themselves freely, shows you are listening. The next step is to put into action what you agree to do! Believers are great salespeople.
- Case Studies– think about the most daunting problems and challenges your customers have brought to you to solve. Identify 3-5 key topics that will resonate with others who are on their buying journey. Case studies that address each issue from the customer’s perspective are no different than “word of mouth” referrals, but with the added advantage that they are easily shared digitally. Case studies should highlight the customer, their story, the problems solved, and their impact. The format may be an interview-style, it may take the shape of a story, or assume a more technical format. Think about what is best for your audience. Before long, you will build a library of customer voices. When your customers speak, prospects listen.
Making your customers your best salespeople recognizes the deep resonance their voices have in validating the hard work you and your team put forth daily to support their success. When those voices are heard, they are the voices of great salespeople!
How are you making your customers your best salespeople?