Three Tips to Fire Up Your Customers to be Your Best Sales Force!

At The Daniel Group, we are learning more and more about referral activity in the B2B world, and we now have three tips to help you increase your referral activity and fire up your customers to become your best sales force. My own Google research revealed that there are about 25 times more resources to “fire up your B2B sales force” (3.2 billion results) than there are for getting “getting referrals in B2B sales” (122 million).  Without examining the quality of these results, the difference is striking. This upside-down ratio illustrates a modern-day marketing and sales problem. Over the past ten years, 90% of our new clients have been the result of a referral or having first-hand knowledge of us. However, we have done too little to make it easy or encourage our delighted clients to tell others.

The Data: Why You Benefit from Firing Up Your Customers:

Personal or influenced knowledge is essential in B2B selling. For example, in a recent research project, we found that 25% of the buyers of construction equipment relied on the experiences of others as a source of information—the most significant source by far. Another 15% relied on their relationship with a dealer or sales rep. And another 15% from their own experience with recent purchases of the product.

25% of B2B buyers rely on the experiences of others. Fire Up Your Customers to be Your Best Sales Force

Over the years, we have learned that referral activity is surprisingly high (30 to 40 percent of respondents on our surveys indicated they had referred a dealer or a product to another person in the last six months).

When a buyer makes a significant purchase such as construction equipment, farm equipment, or similar items, they turn to trusted sources, such as friends and their own experiences with the brand, to inform of their decisions.

Before you ask about the impact of websites, B2B customers do not use websites a lot to get product information.  Ten percent visited the OEM’s website to get information in the earlier noted research project. Only two percent visited the dealer’s website. What can an industrial OEM and dealer do to fire up customers?

Tip # 1: Rethink Your Marketing Approach

An essential source of information for B2B industrial buyers is their relationships with others. Dealers and OEMs have few ways to influence those “discussions” within a buyer’s network of friends and colleagues. Websites, either those by the OEM or the dealer, are not especially effective at providing information for a buyer. It is time to rethink the marketing approach. Rather than “firing up the sales force,” it is time to “fire up” your customers. Start to think of your customers as a very potent sales force.

The first way for B2B dealers to fire up customers is to provide dependable and consistent service to support the products you sell. Product support services do not need to be flashy, but they MUST be consistently good. You want customers to have experiences that will cause them to talk positively to others.

Tip # 2: Don’t overlook your sales organization

While technology aids the selling process, buyers are still unlikely to purchase an expensive piece of industrial equipment online. The adage that accounts buy, but people decide is still true.  Therefore, a human with the necessary trust relationship needs to be involved. Especially today, effective salespeople must be technically knowledgeable and approach the customer as someone with a problem to be solved, not an “account to be conquered.”

Tip #3: Consider every touchpoint with the customer as essential

We may laugh at leave-behind materials after a sales call currently. They do matter! For example, a few months ago, a salesperson from a technology company left a brochure with me after a sales call. I filed the leaflet in a “hold” folder. Later I realized they might have a solution to our firm’s problem. They did. The combination of a very effective salesperson and the leave-behind information caused me to reconsider this company.

Monitor customer engagement throughout the journey with your company. It is surprising to see how few companies measure simple engagement metrics such as post-purchase spending on service and parts. However, this metric is a simple way to identify customers with low engagement (fired up). While it is not a perfect measure, product support spending is a great way to identify customers heading out the door. Remember, those might be the customers that will influence others away from your company’s products and services.

Also, what else should we consider on the customer journey? Do you have materials and information for your customers after they become customers? Once a customer has bought, is it easy to find user and warranty information and other information needed for a successful operation? Do they know who to contact for parts, service, or other needs? For example, one of our clients, a large equipment dealer, provides a post-purchase “briefing” session for customers. They ensure new customers know key product support people and who to call to keep the machine running.

It’s Time to Fire Up Your Customers! It matters to your bottom line!

As you think about what to do, keep the following facts in mind (ThinkImpact):

  • 83% of the customers are open to referring a business after a successful purchase.
  • 78% of the B2B referrals create viable customer leads for the business.
  • Just 3 in every 10 B2B businesses have a formalized referral business.
  • Referrals end up creating 65% of new business opportunities.

Time to fire up your customers and make them a central element of your growth plan.

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