Customer Advocates: Find Them, Befriend Them, and Sell Better Together

The world of sales can sometimes feel like an ever-changing sea of tactics and technology. Even for the most seasoned of sales teams, staying afloat can be daunting. But fear not sales pros: there’s a life raft full of friendly faces out there, just waiting to keep you and your sales figures afloat. In fact, they’re probably already doing just that.

Nielson has repeatedly reported that word-of-mouth recommendations outstrip all other forms of marketing. Even customer reviews posted by strangers are trusted by a whopping 68 percent of viewers. The people who give you these referrals and reviews are your advocates—a group of outspoken customers who know your brand, trust your name, and are willing and able to foster new sales for you. Now that you know they’re out there, here are a few ways to make the most of your most vocal fans.

Identify your advocates. No matter how big your customer base is, chances are that someone out there really likes you and isn’t afraid to show it. Do a little social listening sleuthing and you’re likely to find your online advocates in a jiffy. Don’t neglect the customers who interact with you via your app or retail locations either. No matter how they’re spreading the word about your brand, your advocates are one of your best means of finding new customers, and you need to know who they are.

Some might even be hiding in plain sight. If you have return customers who constantly rate your products highly in surveys or online, why not ask them to write a review? It might just be the gentle nudge they need.

Reward the vocal ones. Customers who send you referrals and take up your banner on social media are an invaluable source of free marketing. Acknowledge that these loyal, outspoken advocates are rendering you a service and reward them for it. Retweet their messages, offer them advance access to your newest products, mention their YouTube channels. These folks are already your biggest fans, so giving them a few extra Twitter followers isn’t exactly contrary to your best interests—and it’ll put a smile on their faces too.

Turn complaints into success stories. Not every complaint is written out of malice. Identify those folks out there who are actually asking for your help and reach out to them. By establishing a caring dialogue, you’ll know just how to brighten their day. Once they know you care and want to work with them, these customers will likely give you a second chance.

You can also take this philosophy a step further by combining it with our other tips. Customers who complain are already vocal members of your community. Once you’ve turned their frowns upside down, don’t be afraid to go the extra mile and send your one-time critics a care package or a handwritten note. Prove to them that you really do care and these outspoken customers just might become some of your strongest advocates.

It almost goes without saying at this point, but knowing what folks are saying about your brand is the best way to start connecting with your advocates. This can be a big job, especially if you’re selling in multiple markets around the world. If you’d like to see how Microsoft Dynamics CRM keeps track of customer sentiment, check out a short video on the subject here

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