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Martin Wales

[July 8, 2002]

Customer Catcherâ„¢

By Martin Wales

Motivating Your Customers To Be Your Best Salespeople

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.

Excite Them
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.

Reward Them
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 of compensation.

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 program too.

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 gratifying.

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 Catcherâ„¢, "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 protected] 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 too.

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