We have talked in the last few weeks about finding new leads and then qualifying them but there is another great way that you can find new business that in many cases is already perfect for you.
How good are you at turning your new customers into great customer ambassadors?
The best customers are those who are so pleased with the delivery of your promises that they would not hesitate to recommend you to other people. They become ambassadors for you and your company and become a mini salesforce for you.
I believe that it is essential that every single one of my customers are thrilled with what I do and I believe it is my duty to ensure they are happy and really pleased deep down with the help I provide them.
I don’t just ask the standard questions, I like to probe beneath the surface and really gauge my customer's satisfaction. I ask questions like;
What can I do differently that will help you?
How can I improve the service I offer?
What is the real impact that I am having on your business?
Where could I adjust my approach to get better results for you?
It's vital to ask different questions and really scratch beneath the service as its normal for anyone to be polite and say 'everything is great' when deep down they don't feel that way.
Use your emotional intelligence to really probe beneath the surface.
Showing a continuous focus on wanting to add value to your customer counts! This week has been a fantastic reminder of the value of having customer ambassadors who are so pleased with what you do that they are happy to help you.
On Monday I had a conversation with a lady who is the Head of HR for an organisation. She’s looking for a sales trainer to come on board and help a new sales manager that’s joining their team. She’d been referred by a customer of mine who sent an email introducing us. In the email, my customer communicated that I was great at what I did and that I was someone she should have a conversation with. I don’t have the business yet, but I have a fair chance of winning it because of the word-of-mouth referral.
On Wednesday I was with my customer, The Innovation Beehive, who have successfully built their pipeline to over three times the size of their sales targets. (That’s my little #toptip – you should have a pipeline value of 2,5 to 3 times over the value of your sales targets). I’ve been working with Joe Nagle one of their Directors, to help convert that pipeline into customers.
Joe has very kindly given me a great video reference which I will be sharing on my YouTube channel soon. That video testimonial is a great asset and it will be valuable in building trust with future prospects.
I’ve also just started working with a new client called, Inspired Playgrounds, who help children become better leaders and help improve children’s behaviour through their innovative playground product. One of the key factors in the guys at Inspired Playgrounds choosing me, is that they were able to speak with two of my other customers (thanks Alex and Sonia) who were both able to talk about how I was able to help them get better sales results.
What’s the point I’m getting at? It is this.
What you say about yourself is nothing compared to what your customers say about you.
The best salespeople know that if you can get customers to refer you, then you’re going to be in a fantastic position to win more business. This is because we trust what our family, friends, colleagues, business affiliates and people we know have to say, more than we would anything from a salesperson.
Long term customer happiness and referrals are the final stage in my seriesHow Sales Success is Very Similar to Datingand I want you to be in a position to have your customers working to help you grow.
Here are four activities I’d encourage you to focus on in your week ahead so that you can get your customers to help you win new business.
ACTIVITY 1 – ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS HAPPY?
The first thing you have to do is mark your clients on a scale of 1 – 5 to assess their happiness levels; 1 being the customer who will go out of their way to talk about how bad you are, and 5 being your disciples that they will proactively talk about and promote you. Mark on the scale where you think your customers will be. Look at The Customer Happiness Scale below for details of what I mean.
When you next speak to them, ask them the question. “I’d love to get your feedback on the impact we are having for you and what we are doing, how would you rate our service out of 5?”. If they’re a 2 or a 3 then you’ve got work to do on the promises you made. If it’s a 4 or 5 then you’re right where you want to be and you know these clients are going to be referring you to others.
ACTIVITY 2 – MAKE YOUR SELECTION & TAKE ACTION
Write down three of those customers who are hopefully at a 4 or a 5 on your scale - who can you talk to and ask for a reference quote or testimonial?
If you can secure a testimonial, it’s better if the person you speak with can put their name alongside the testimonial it as that helps to reinforce trust by showing who they are. Using a photo alongside their quote is even better if you can. Pictures help to reinforce trust.
Also at this time ask if they’re happy to do a written or video testimonial so that you can have something you can use in your own prospect engagement. If they are happy, then maybe ask the most powerful question of the lot and see if they would be happy to make some time available to speak to a potential new prospect you have.
When I engage with new prospects, I outline what I can offer but invariably I encourage the prospect to speak with 3 or 4 of my customers. I introduce them to each other via email and say 'please have a chat'.
I believe that this is a key asset in helping to convert new business. It also helps my sales mentality as I feel very proud to know my customers are happy to give up some of their time to help me. It tells me that I am helping them which is why I do what I do.
If they’re not able to do this, then in a nice way ask the reason why. Sometimes you can wrongly assume that their unwillingness is related to your performance. Ask the question and gain clarity. Perhaps it’s related to confidentiality? Perhaps they can’t divulge the details of the work you have done and therefore aren’t able to offer a testimonial.
A way to get around this is to say that you are not looking for a descriptive testimonial but something which is short and just shows that they recommend you. Your recommendation essentially needs to communicate that “you promised this” and “you delivered this”. Too much description can make some people uncomfortable, so keep it simple.
ACTIVITY THREE – BE HELPFUL
If you’ve asked for a testimonial and your customers says yes, it could be very low on their priority list and unfortunately take a bit of time for them to put pen-to-paper and get it written down.
It’s not that they don’t want to do it, but they’ve got other things going on in their world. From their perspective, it’s not a priority. If you write the testimonial for them, often customers are happy to say “yes, I’m happy to put my name on that”. Be helpful and write the testimonials for your customers and ask them to add it on LinkedIn or any platform you know they engage on. Some good examples could be something like;
James did an excellent job with his work and I would have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone else
If you want to have a provider you can trust to deliver on the promises they make and add value to your business then I would strongly recommend James and his company to anyone thinking of hiring a sales trainer or mentor. He is friendly, helpful and adds value to our business.
You don't have to use these exact words but you get the idea. The bottom line is that if you help them do it, you’re more likely to get that testimonial.
ACTIVITY FOUR – ASK FOR A REFERRAL IN A DIFFERENT WAY
Sometimes if you say to a customer “can you refer me to someone” then it’s a challenge for that person to think of someone offhand? I’ve found that changing the way you ask the question can help to get the results you’re after. Maybe phrase it like this.
It’s been so great that I have been able to help you solve this key problem you had. How are your friends or other business contacts dealing with these challenges? What do they do? Would it help for you to introduce me to them so that I can provide them with the help to get things solved the way we have?”
Now you’re not making the referral a cold referral, instead, you’re focusing on helping and showing value. Consider the way you’re asking for a referral and opt to change it up.
If you’re successful and your customer can think of someone that would benefit from your help, don’t delay, ask them to get the referral in straight away. Say “It would be great to help them, why don’t you drop them an email introducing me and copy me in”.
An introduction where you have been copied in the communication is so much better than approaching that person coldly. If your customer has identified the opportunity, focus on getting the referral there and then. You can even do what we said in point 3 and be extra helpful and offer to write the email for them so that they can send it on right away.
Do as much of the work for your customer as possible. The more work you do, the better the position you’re going to be in.
Talking about work and having to make adjustments to get better results, take a look at a video I shared last week about how Sales is just like golf!
If you do these four things you’re going to get more referrals from your customers which is going to help build trust and belief in your company or who you are as a salesperson.
This will be a big factor in winning new business!
The other factor from this is that if you're doing it right and keeping your existing customers happy, they’re going to want to do more business with you as well. Continuing to work with you means they could buy new products that you make available and they will also continue to recommend and refer you. At the end of the day, your existing customers can have a great influence and help you to do the business that you want to.
Take action this week! Let me know which customers you have asked for a testimonial and how it made you feel! If you are not sure how to approach them then reach out and let’s talk about how you can do that!
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James White is the UK's leading prospect conversion expert. He understands what it takes to convert leads into real business within the modern digital era and what it takes to achieve business success.