In the sales industry, there is no holier grail than the customer referral. Word-of-mouth has a greater impact on a business's financial success than social media and traditional marketing, according to MarketShare's "Quantifying the Role of Social Voice in Marketing Effectiveness." Customers turned brand advocates have an incredible influence on sales, and you can turn your best customers into brand advocates using a few simple strategies.
The way to transform your best customers into brand advocates is by making them feel appreciated by acknowledging them. Making a public shout-out on a social media platform or featuring them on your website or in a newsletter are all great ways to make customers feel valued and special. A customer who feels valued is more likely to want to share that positive experience with peers and colleagues. Others who come across these public acknowledgements will also be intrigued with your company's treatment of its customers and may be more receptive to trying out your products or services.
Another way to show customers you appreciate them is by asking for their opinions. Whether it's via a short email survey, comment card or focus group, gathering feedback from your customers gives you an inside look into their preferences and grievances. Moreover, it makes customers feel good to know that you care about and respect their opinions.
Spending quality time with your customers outside of the sales atmosphere is another way to inspire them to become brand advocates. Host events such as a Customer Appreciation Day or a luncheon where they can meet and interact with the company's owners, executives and management team. Provide snacks and refreshments and make the event fun with raffle prizes, games or guest speakers. Spending time with your best customers in a no-pressure, sales-free zone inspires trust and greater customer loyalty.
Provide your best customers with exclusive deals, sales or sneak peeks. Letting your brand advocates in on company news makes them feel important. Giving them access to new products or services includes them in the sales process because they will be on the front lines. Adding in exclusive loyalty discounts is another way to make them feel special and will make it easy for them to win over others when advocating for you.
These are all ways to generate customer referrals without explicitly asking for them. However, in some cases, simply asking for the referral may actually be your best approach, says Ray Silverstein, writer for Entrepreneur website. When a customer compliments your business, express gratitude and ask if they know others who may benefit from your company's products or services. If you time it right, you can avoid looking opportunistic, and the customer may see the interaction as helpful.
As a salesperson, your best ally is a solid foundation of brand advocates who consistently provide you with reliable referrals. This translates into increased sales and a more loyal customer base. The best way to build this foundation is by building and nurturing your relationships with your leads and customers. The best brand advocates are born from happy customers whose needs are met with satisfaction.
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