Your customers are some of your greatest assets. Not only do they directly drive revenue in terms of repeat purchases, but they can also indirectly drive revenue in the form of selling your brand to other people. Do you know what it looks like to turn your customers into an extension of your sales team?
6 Tips for Turning Customers Into Salespeople
It’s expensive to sell, but it’s impossible to be successful without making a commitment to actively put your products in front of customers and encourage them to purchase. And while it’s important that you have salespeople on your staff, you can greatly improve your results and reduce the negative impact on your bottom line by leveraging customers as salespeople, too.
When we discuss the use of customers as salespeople, we aren’t talking about it in the traditional sense. You aren’t turning them into paid employees of your company. Instead, we mean they promote your company’s products and services through how they interact with their peers.
Not quite sure where to start? Here are a few of the most commonly implemented strategies for turning customers into valuable salespeople for your brand.
1. Encourage User-Generated Content
Are you familiar with user generated content? As digital marketer Alex York explains, “User-generated content is a source of content crafted by a consumer, social media follower, fan or influencer that lives under your brand’s properties. Whether it’s a blog, social media post, Wiki, podcast, video or social image, the content is created by third-party users.” This content is typically then shared by the brand as a form of free social proof.
But the fact that user-generated content is free is just the start. This type of content is actually much more impactful than “biased” brand marketing. York points to research that shows brand engagement increases by 28 percent when user-generated content is published, while consumers are twice as likely to share the content with friends and family.
There are lots of different ways to encourage customers to start developing content for you, but providing guest blogging opportunities is one good option. Encouraging people to share pictures and videos via Instagram is another option.
2. Build Up a Referral Program
“Referral programs are a common aspect of thousands of websites as they are a great way to get new registered members,” SurveysSay.com explains. “As you may already know, some of the biggest e-commerce giants as well as other companies offer rewards and bonuses to users for referring their website to their friends and family.”
Referral programs are awesome because they directly incentivize your customers to sell for you. There’s no indirect selling going on here. They are being told that, for every person they sign up, they will get rewarded. It’s a good way to tap into customers who have large peer groups with the same interests.
3. Try Affiliate Marketing
Similar to a referral program is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a little less direct, though. It usually involves the brand directly compensating the affiliate customer for every sale that they’re responsible for.
The wonderful thing about affiliate marketing is that you only pay when a sale is complete. If a member of your affiliate marketing program drives 15 conversions one month, you pay them for those 15 conversions. If they only drive three the next month, you only pay them for those three. It’s a cost effective way to scale without overpaying.
affiliate marketing is one of the best in the business and you can learn a lot by studying how they leverage their network of “associates.”
4. Gather Customer Testimonials
Sometimes your customers can sell for you without even realizing it. Social proof is the psychological phenomenon by which the opinions of others directly influence how we view the world. By gathering testimonials from some of your most loyal customers, you can incorporate valuable social proof into your website and social media profiles, using this positive feedback to reach new customers.
Groove, a leader in help desk software, is walking proof of how valuable customer testimonials can be. Over the years, they’ve found that good testimonials increase conversions by up to 15 percent on their home page, landing pages, and in email marketing. That’s a pretty substantial lift!
5. Use Contests to Jumpstart Social Sharing
Another effective way to utilize social proof is by encouraging your followers to share positive content about your brand on social media. Instagram is one of the more popular platforms these days, but any other major network – including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and even LinkedIn – can be equally high returning.
Since it’s hard to just ask a customer to share something positive about your company, you’ll need to get a little more targeted and come up with a formalized plan. One popular method is to launch a contest that requires followers to share a certain piece of content (or their own user-generated content) in order to be entered to win. You can see some good examples here.
6. Give Away Free Products to Influencers
One final method is to give away free products. While this can be expensive, depending on what you sell, it can help you build your brand presence over time. The key is to identify who the “influencers” are. These are the people who have large social media followings and regularly interact with other people in your target market.
Once you identify these people, you can offer to send them free products in return for some simple exposure and honest feedback. Most customers will take you up on this and will have nothing but good things to say about your brand.
The popular power tool brand Rigid is one example of a company that uses social influencers to grow its brand. They give away thousands of dollars worth of tools every single month because they know that their customers will post YouTube videos and online reviews as a way of saying thank you.
Put Your Customers to Work
Customer loyalty isn’t something to take for granted. When you notice that you have loyal customers who are proud supporters of your brand, you should do everything within your power to leverage this goodwill. Put your customers to work and let them act as unofficial salespeople for your brand. It’s a powerful and cost-effective way to grow your bottom line with very little investment on your end. What are you waiting for?
Augmented Reality Customer Reviews Photo via Shutterstock