If you study the classic sell cycle you often see the process end with “the close”. In other words, once the sale is made, companies typically move on to the next prospect. They fail to capitalize on a most valuable resource – current customers. When it gets right down to it, few things impress a prospect more than an existing, satisfied customer. The key is to transform existing satisfied customers into customer advocates. Customer advocates can be your absolute best salespeople.
Customer Advocates Arise When You Move From Transactions to Relationships
It is human nature for prospects to often assume that a salesperson detailing product/service information is “selling” them. On the contrary, a current customer providing the exact same information is “helping them out”. “Sharing a good thing”. When advocates speak to prospects, the prospects guards are down. Prospects generally listen more intently to a peer. They are on the same team! Customer advocates carry a lot of credibility.
So how do you make your happy customers turn into advocates? You plan it of course! Planning is always key to good marketing. Here are a few things you can plan do to generate customer advocates.
- Communicate – as much as possible. Develop reasons to reach out to existing customers. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys. Encourage owner’s clubs (that you sponsor). Sponsor customer appreciation events, etc. Frequent positive contact develops relationships. Relationships mean growth!
- Create incentives for relationship building. This applies to whoever has customer contact. Customer service team, sales reps, etc. The goal is to develop high-involvement relationships with customers. I am familiar with a direct to consumer business who has bonus incentives to keep customers on the phone as long as possible. Your business will really start humming when you graduate from transactions to relationships.
- Capitalize on tough situations. If you ever have customers who have a challenging experience such as quality or delivery problems, think of it as a great opportunity to build a relationship. In this situation, a customer is vulnerable. Vulnerable means volatile. You have a chance to forge a strong relationship. Make it a strong positive one!
Developing customer advocates is not difficult, you just have to be dedicated to achieving it. Just continually come up with ways to delight your customers. Your business will flourish!