When evaluating new products, B2B buyers don’t want to speak with sales reps. After all, why should prospective buyers trust someone whose greatest motivation is likely to be hitting their monthly sales quota? That is why prospects may ignore attempts you make to build a relationship over the phone or via email.
Instead, they seek advice from peers who’ve already tried your products and are willing to share their positive (or negative) experiences. They’re turning to their personal networks, social media, and third-party review websites for helpful product insights. It doesn’t mean that sales teams and reps aren’t necessary. But you’ll need a new strategy to connect with customers in more meaningful ways.
If you leverage your happiest customers’ stories and networks, you can each new prospects and gain their trust before they ever speak with a sales rep. By implementing a customer-powered sales strategy, your sales team can also build a better pipeline, close deals faster, and open doors to new opportunities within an organization.
A customer-powered sales strategy has helped PowerDMS generate over $400,000 in new sales opportunities, and enabled Yext to grow their sales references by 1000%. Want to learn how they did it? Read on to discover how these organizations are earning their new customers’ trust and accelerating sales growth by empowering advocates as part of their team.
1. Target & train the right advocates to generate more referrals
With the right community platform, targeting advocates makes asking for referrals less awkward and impersonal. Use educational challenges to teach advocates what your ideal customer looks like and why referrals matter to your business.
Target your referral requests at the right time, and to specific advocates who have indicated a willingness to refer. Additionally, referral tracking that integrates with your CRM shows advocates the progress of their referral and rewards them appropriately at each stage of the process.
Success story: PowerDMS influenced $410K in opportunities with a customer-powered reference program
PowerDMS—a policy management software provider—started their advocacy journey with an ad hoc program that was managed using spreadsheets. However, once their executive team saw how effective their early efforts were, they were very eager to launch a full-fledged advocate community.
Since launching the PowerDMS Champions program in 2016, Ray Lau, Director of Customer Marketing, has been harnessing the power of customers to boost sales efforts. Ray has built genuine relationships with community members, and ensured an excellent advocate experience.
After customers were nurtured with fun and educational activities, many were happy to step up and raise their hands to act as references on calls with prospects. Ray has also encouraged customer advocates from the program to give qualified referrals. In addition, PowerDMS Champions have volunteered to appear in case studies and give product feedback.
Here are some of the results they’ve achieved:
$410,000 in opportunities influenced
91 referrals sourced through the program
92 referenceable customers
173 positive online reviews
“Our community has allowed us to quickly mobilize customers and improve every area of our company.”
— Ray Lau, Director of Customer Marketing, PowerDMS
New Playbook: The Customer-Powered Enterprise
Like what you're reading? This blog was excerpted from The Customer-Powered Enterprise Playbook. Download the full playbook for strategic guides for 7 different departments of your business, plus 9 inspiring case-studies & 7 tactical worksheets to get you started.
2. Identify & grow your customer reference pool with advocates
Stop burning out your small list of “go-to” customer references. An engaged community with advocates makes expanding your reference pool and connecting customers with prospects a faster, more rewarding process.
Uncover which customers in your targeted industries are using which products successfully. Then, send reference requests to the right groups quickly and reward customers when references are complete. Since this is all opt-in for the advocate, they can participate when the timing is good for them, and let others in the community pick up the slack at other times.
Success story: How Yext increased referenceable customers by 1,000%
Yext is a digital knowledge management platform that helps businesses manage company information across digital channels. They were looking for a way to scale growth, increase retention, and identify and mobilize their advocates to gain new business.
Using Gainsight, they were able to streamline onboarding and identify where customers were getting stuck in the customer journey. Health scores and dashboards helped identify matches for sales references.
To grow the voice of the customer, they automated their Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, which had a positive effect on sales, product, and customer success:
Responses triggered a call from sales
Product feedback informed the product roadmap
Every new promoter triggered a notification to the customer marketing team to research and identify a potential advocate
As a result, Yext increased referenceable customers by 1,000% over six months, which meant a 1,000% increase in sales references and new logo pipeline influenced by references compared to the year before.
By evolving how Yext built and managed their customer journey, they were able to find hidden promoters and consistently engage them to provide value to other departments. This alignment is how the ideal customer-powered enterprise works. While all departments can benefit individually, the best results come from joint, tactical efforts with the customer placed at the centre, and every party operating on the same page.
“We now have a clear view into where a customer is in their journey and how they’re trending. And with very little effort, we’re identifying advocates that are excited to share how we’ve added value for their business.”
3. Ask advocates for help with internal cross-selling opportunities
Advocates don’t just promote you publicly; they also serve as powerful ambassadors to other stakeholders and groups across their organization. By leveraging these relationships, sales team members can uncover and win additional revenue opportunities that might have never been discovered without an advocacy program.
Make internal referral requests of your advocates, and create engaging digital experiences that they can invite their entire organization into for increased visibility of your solution.
A win-win solution for advocates & sales teams
Your sales team will undoubtedly benefit from the help of customer advocates to identify, nurture, and close more deals with prospective buyers. But your advocates can also achieve personal and business success from this symbiotic relationship.
Asking advocates to share their stories and product insights with their internal and external peers positions them as subject matter experts in their industry. Including their testimonials and reviews in case studies also helps them raise the profile of their business and personal brand overall. In turn, this can strengthen your sales team’s relationship with your advocates.
Hear from Tiffany Beddow, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at ON24 who will be sharing best practices and strategies on leveraging their customer community, to accelerate product development and improve user adoption, with Pendo guides.
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