Your customer advocacy program is a powerful tool in strengthening your brand and shortening the sales cycle. Here is how your program can impact the various sales milestones:
Pre-Qualification by B2B Buyer
According to Forrester, ‘today’s business buyers are increasingly self-directed: 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information; 68% prefer to research on their own, online; and 62% say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list — based solely on digital content’. (The Ways And Means Of B2B Buyer Journey Maps: We’re Going Deep at Forrester’s B2B Forum).
Logos, quotes, press releases, media interviews, and customer success stories on your company’s site and promoted through the various social media platforms, including your user communities, are a powerful driver to your brand awareness.
Namedrops, customer success stories, and online reviews reinforce proof points of your company as a contender in the buyer’s journey. Oftentimes, your customer has already pre-qualified you prior to the call to engage in an in-person meeting. Your ability to know who are your advocates makes a difference. It demonstrates you have a relationship with those customers.
Proof of Concept Demos
During and after proof of concept demos, prospects are looking to be reminded why you should be on their short list. The ability to refer to positive online third-party product reviews pacts a powerful punch. A portfolio of customer success stories about your solution, whether sent in an email, through a mobile app or via other technology reinforces your message.
Formal proposals still exist especially in very competitive markets, like software or hardware. Increasingly common is the need for referrals for renewals. You can make this tedious process easier by having an arsenal of customer namedrops and proof points. In the public sector, oftentimes, you may need more than just a namedrop of a customer using your solution. You may need the customer live or a summary of their story with your product(s).
You have made it to the sales milestone where you are now hopefully one of two vendors being considered. What makes you stand apart from the competition – your customer advocates. They can tell your story best whether on the phone in a 1:1 call or in-person via a site visit. This is a more intimate engagement and allows both your advocates and your prospects to network with each other.
With strong advocates sharing their positive experiences about your brand, you demonstrate your desire to build long-term customer relationships. This leads to a shortened sales cycle and increased revenue.