Motivating Your Customers To Be Your Best
By proactively addressing customer referrals as a continual source of
new business, you can utilize your current time and effort with your
existing client base and not risk additional capital. Your customers
become a free sales force for you.
This was addressed in last
month's column about increasing referrals by turning customers into
your sales force. Now, as some are painfully aware, just because you have
a sales team doesn't mean you're making a profit. So today, let's talk
about transforming your customers into a super sales team.
Creating A Successful Sales Team
How do you create a superstar sales team? What makes them sell more in
less time with less management from you? These challenges are forever on
the minds of executives and sales managers. How do we apply them to our
customer sales force that isn't even on our payroll?
There appear to be universal themes with salespeople, regardless of the
industry, product, or market served. In general, salespeople love to be
order takers rather than customer makers. The path of least resistance
seems to be the most desirable whether it's doing prospecting, pitching, or
closing. The more work and administration, the fewer sales are made. In
short, the less work to get a sale, the better.
Your customers are no different. They don't think they're your
salesperson and don't plan their day around it. That said, you can turn
them into a profitable sales team, if you manage them effectively with a
few consistent activities.
Three Simple Sales Strategies
To get your customers referring, you have to do three things. Let's
keep it simple. Simple works and it's easily transferable. Simple cost
less money, too!
These three elements are no different than traditional sales
management thinking. The dynamics are no different either. Some customers
will be better at it than others. Some require more management while
others are self-starters. No matter -- apply these three efforts
consistently and constantly and you will see the rewards.
When you first sell your product to your customers, you must remember
that you want them to refer you in the future. You have to commit to
delivering a superior product that provides all the features and benefits
you promised along with excellent customer service. The customer who
experiences this will happily share it with their friends.
The transference of enthusiasm is one of the greatest motivators for a
prospect to buy. When a prospect sees how excited a salesperson is with
their own product, it is easier for them to start believing it could be a
solution for them, too.
Your customers have to be aware of what they're getting and recognize
the value. You need to educate your customer clearly about the level of
expertise and product quality they are receiving when you first sell them.
This is what you want them to talk about after you're gone.
Then you have to maintain that excitement. Connect with them fairly
frequently, usually by phone, and reinvigorate them. Don't do it to the
point of harassment. Work it into your customer service calls, support
calls, and annual check-ups. Make sure to raise their energy level as part
of your regular contacts with them.
Arm And Train Them
First and foremost tell your customers that you want referrals and what kind of clients
you seek. So many companies don't take this simple first step.
Develop sales tools that make less work for your customers when they
are referring you. There is a lot of information that can be discussed,
especially with technology, and it can reach a point of confusion and
misinformation if not handled appropriately.
Your objective with your customer sales force is to get them to have
their associate contact you, as soon as possible. Don't let the customer
be responsible for the entire sale. You really just want their positive
comments while introducing your service.
There are so many tools to pick from. Give your customers additional
business cards, brochures, links to your Web site in your e-mails to them
(that they can forward to friends), and other marketing communication
tools, such as trial software. Just keep in mind, the simpler it is, the more
likely they are to use it.
The best and most effective sales tool is an easy to spell and logical
Web site address. My favorite, poor example was a former
systems integrator company with the URL of daedalion.com. You couldn't
remember how to say it or spell it and it revealed nothing about what they
did. Something like softwaresolutions.com or powerprogrammers.com is more
useful. Get aURL that rolls off your tongue and stays on your mind.
For a traditional salesperson and a few of your customers, nothing is
more motivating than cash. However, for most, this may not be the case and for some
cash commissions are against company policy or even state laws, as in
the insurance industry. Satisfy your customer sales team with other forms
Give them the ego stroke and status of being the person who always
knows who to call, or who has "connections." Often, people do more to
help others than they will to help themselves.
Help your customer contact look good in their job. When your contact
refers business to you, give them an extended three-month term on their
service contract for your software. It could be used for a positive
employee review leading to a raise and promotion for saving their employer
money. You might recognize this as a customer retention and loyalty
Find out what turns your customers on outside of their business life.
Give non-related rewards as commission for customer-referred sales. You
would be surprised how simple and affordable these can be. Think of
magazine subscriptions, like Fishing World or Cars Today. The reward can be as small as a movie pass
or pizza coupon, even for a multi-thousand dollar contract. Many have
families and relatives with children and making them smile is extremely
In Closing... And You Should Always Be Closing!
Your customer sales team can be more profitable when "managed"
properly. Let's not forget, the basis of your referral sales force is your
company's commitment to delivering quality products that you stand behind
along with continued, superior customer service and satisfaction. Without
that, you don't have much to sell anyway.
Be proactive. Be enthusiastic with each customer contact, ask them to
refer you each time, and remind them of your latest reward program. It is
your responsibility to do as much as you can, so clients do as little as
possible, and don't even realize that they are selling your products or
services. Keep it simple and fun for them, and you'll have all the leads
and sales you can handle.
Martin Wales, The Customer Catcher™, "helps you get customers
'til you beg him to stop." Using your company's existing resources,
he creates maximum results with minimum risk. E-mail email@example.com
with "Referrals" in the subject line for info on the latest
audio program, "How to Grow Your Business Profits by Increasing
Client Referrals." Your questions and comments are always welcome