Customers: A new sales and marketing channel

More and more companies are starting to implement strategies and systems to leverage customers, customers and 3rd party influencers to become sales and marketing channels.  And they are doing it with great success.

Why customers make a good sales and marketing channel

There are many reasons why customers have the potential to be a powerful sales and marketing channel for your brand.  First, in today’s connected world, customers can reach their social networks on the brands behalf, easily and often.  They have a strong voice.  In addition, customers are typically very knowledgeable about your products and services and a good percentage of them are passionate about the company.  Lastly, their friends listen to them and they can drive your brands message.  More than ever before, buyers look to a trusted source before making a purchase decision.  Customers can and will reach out to their social networks and spread a brand’s message, especially if they are encouraged and enabled to do so.

What customers can do to drive sales and marketing productivity

Customers do many things that are very important to the brand.  They can:

  • Introduce their friends to your product or services
  • Recruit new hires and great talent
  • Amplify marketing messages
  • Forward content about new products and promotions
  • Write testimonials

Even better? They can do these things at scale.

The benefits of recruiting customers to become brand advocates

The benefits are impressive.  Attracting new and retaining current customers is crucial for a successful business. Enabling and encouraging customers to refer their friends, brands can:

  • Build brand awareness and build a highly positive reputation
  • Generate the highest quality leads – leads that drive new customer acquisition
  • Create higher levels of customer enthusiasm and loyalty to your company
  • Save money and lower risk when compared to traditional advertising and marketing initiatives

Why now?

Although customer advocacy isn’t a new concept, in the past it has been an operational nightmare to create and manage these programs. But today’s technology has made it easy for administrators to set up, support and manage advocacy programs.  Technology makes it easy to:

  • Enroll customers into the program
  • Provide customers the tools to easily reach out to their networks
  • Track and manage all the workflows and controls so brands can measure results all the way through to a sale.
  • Automate the process of brands thanking and nurturing customers for their contributions so they continue to advocate on behalf of the brand

This is not a future pipedream.  We have seen some very compelling case studies.  I have seen accounts has over 1.2 M customers registered to take part in a program, and these customers made over 1.0 M referrals, which generated over 400,000 new acquisitions last year alone.

Mobilizing customers, employees and 3rd party influencers to leverage their trusted relationships is happening everywhere because it is smart business: they are the sales and marketing channels of the future.

Questions? Email me at RBeedon@amplifinity.com

What is brand advocacy?

4 sales best practices using the art of referrals

Amplifinity’s CEO and Founder, Richard Beedon, blogs about the evolution of sales best practices for large brands.

iMedia Connection image, Amplifinity blog

Originally published in iMedia Connection, April 2, 2014

 

There seems to be a consensus that referrals are the best form of leads. They close faster, buy more and stay longer. Exceptional sales people have been generating referrals for what seems like forever.

Until recently, large corporations have struggled to figure out how to scale the success of individual sales reps to systematically and proactively drive large volumes of referrals.  But that is all changing as technology is now coming to market that can help large brands automate the best practices of sales reps and institutionalize the process of generating referrals from customers, employees and other people who influence the buying decision.

Good technology systems typically are designed to automate manual best practices. Let’s take a look at key functions that great sales people all tend to have in common:

  1. They build referral channels. The majority of salespeople are excellent networkers. Whether meeting people via the local rotary club, the area chamber of commerce or at the local pub, great salespeopleSales team networking can be very good at telling everyone about what they do – their friends, family, customers, other employees and even strangers. Great salespeople also know that the more people who know what they do, the better the chance of that specific network spreading the word.
  2. They ask their channel for referrals. Most great reps never leave a meeting, business or personal, without asking for a referral – and they are skilled at handling it with a gentle approach. One of the most staggering statistics that I have recently heard is that between 70 percent and 80 percent of all people are willing to refer leads if asked, yet less than 15 percent of individuals and companies ask for them. The great ones ask, and they ask often.
  3. They motivate the channel. Compensation is a great motivator (just ask the majority of the 17 million commissioned sales reps in the U.S.) and many of the great ones build professional referrals networks where they compensate people and companies for leads referred to them that can eventually lead to business. There are both monetary and non-monetary ways to incent people to do things that actually work.
  4. They nurture the channel. They always thank their network for referrals, they compensate their network in a timely fashion for referrals and they keep them in the loop.

The good technology solutions should help replicate and facilitate those processes to “institutionalize” and scale the process of driving referrals. These solutions must:

  • Make it easy to enroll customers, employees and influencers into the referral program. The idea is to build a referral community.
  • Provide them with the tools to make it easy to refer.
  • Track and manage all the workflows so you can measure results.
  • Automate the process of thanking and nurturing these channels for their contributions so they continue to perform.

While the marketplace is changing at a pace that is liable to cause even the top salespeople to question their sales strategy, there is one thing that will not change.  Networking will always be #1 for driving quality leads that must be nurtured, thanked and motivated.

The only real difference today, is that these steps can be completed at a faster, more efficient pace, generating exponentially more leads and closed deals – and enabling the best salespeople to be even better.