Who sells in your business? An obvious answer – sales and marketing, of course! But increasingly, the most important people selling for you is your customers.
We’re frequently drawn into obsessing over winning new business and hitting new sales targets, forgetting there’s a wealth of potential within our existing client base. Even worse, we’re guilty of paying little attention to those hard-earnt clients once we’ve delivered what they’ve paid for.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s research reveals that it costs 10x more to win a new client than it does to keep an existing one.
So how do we mobilise this potential salesforce? Rewards, discounts, even payments are often offered in return for referrals. However, this can be a slippery slope and – in truth – there are some simple steps you can take in order to yield the same results.
Deliver on your promise
Yes, this would seem obvious. And yet, over time, this is something many organisations lose sight of. This is the foundation of creating client advocacy, and it must start with a clear link between your marketing and what you actually deliver. Never over-promise, and always fix things promptly if they go wrong.
Understand their problems
Work hard on researching your clients’ issues, where your service fits in, and how it can deliver more. You should learn everything you can about them in order to create better relationships and more focused marketing.
Be proud of your relationship
If we’ve established why clients need your service, we’re in a better position to talk about and tout your clients’ achievements. Rather than talking about how great we are, we should be talking more about what clients have achieved through a white paper or case study. Your most dynamic customers are likely eager to develop their own profiles too; speaking opportunities and videos are great ways of advocates influencing future clients.
Feedback at every touchpoint
There’s nothing worse than receiving a contract that insists on a reference upfront; there’s a much better way of getting guaranteed endorsement – feedback, and more feedback!
At every stage of the process, get your clients’ opinion on how things are going. What stops many businesses asking the question is that they’re scared it might be bad feedback. In fact, this is actually what we want.
It’s important to weed out and address anything clients are unhappy with as it’s when – and only when – they are completely happy then we ask them whether they know anyone else with similar problems. When a completely satisfied client, they’ll almost always gladly introduce you to new contacts.
Give opportunities to clients happy to give you their time – this could be participation in focus groups that help review your services.
We all aim to deliver great service, but it’s an assumption to believe we know what great service is from the inside. We need a client’s perspective. In return, your service or solution may be tweaked for the better; it may even result in different services being created, bringing new revenue streams.
Get started, before your competition does
Providing a service doesn’t necessarily mean ‘customer service’. With competition, businesses of old soon learnt that customer service was a differentiator in winning new business. Today, without limitations on boundaries and scale, clients have more choice than ever – they’ve every right to be fussy over their suppliers.
Embracing the idea of client advocacy is therefore a way to help grow your business in remarkable ways without needing to scrap for new sales in the conventional way.
Do you gather any feedback currently? What data is captured? How many referrals do you get? Establish your current position so you can get set some new goals for an updated Business Plan.