Gone are the days when a customer reference was a handwritten letter, basically waxing lyrical about your services. Nowadays, testimonials come in many forms and you need to making use out of the most powerful sales channel you have at your fingertips…your customers.
In previous blogs, we looked at how you can build an army of advocates and how to incentivise customers to ensure you keep getting return custom and find new customers too. Here, we look at the top activities you can work on with your customers to get them selling on your behalf.
There are multiple ways for your customers voice to shine through. But remember, your customers need to be in control of the situation and be able to select both the type and level of engagement that they want to participate in. They have to be right for their business, since one size doesn’t fit all.
You need to provide your customers with a range of activities to choose from, including one-off opportunities and longer term commitments. Aside from the usual suspects, including asking permission for you to use their logo on published material, here are eight impactful B2B activities you can offer your potential advocates.
1. Video showcase
In this fast moving, dynamic world, prospects are more likely to watch a two minute video rather than read a two page document. And video allows tone to come across more easily; much easier than through written word. You also have the ability and flexibility to be more creative with video, with cutaways to explain product features or even show your product in use. And don’t be afraid about the cost. It may be more expensive to produce a video compared to a written case study, but there are budget options available that still deliver great results. If you have a particularly vocal customer, consider a webinar or a podcast, too.
2. Speaking engagements
This is an excellent way for your customers to become recognised authorities in their field, and speakers who are confident, engaging and have interesting views are likely to be asked back to speak again. By inviting your customer to speak at an industry event, you are opening doors for them by way of exposure, but also giving your business a boost through them name-dropping you as a supplier. Ensure you have prepped your customer as much as possible in advance, should there be any tricky questions from the audience.
3. Customer quote
Despite happy and loyal customers wanting to promote you and your services, many are put off by what they feel is an arduous task. If your CRM team has picked up on the fact that a customer is saying something positive about you and your brand, they may be open to providing a short paragraph testimonial. Make it as easy as possible for them, and ask whether it would be better for them if you drafted a short review; all they would need to do would be to read and sign their name. Such quotes are easily digested by prospects, but don’t forget to ask for a headshot!
4. Analyst/Media interview
Editors love to hear directly from customers as it cuts out the suppliers shameless self promotion; it allows the editor to garner a very honest view of a business and how it treats its customers. Although the danger with the press is not always being able to control what they write, or what your customer says, if your customer is media-trained then they’ll be able to use the opportunity to their advantage.
5. Award submission
An award speaks volumes, and if you and your customer can jointly celebrate success, then even better. Keep your eyes out for industry awards that may enable you to take advantage of such a relationship and offer to help them draft the submission if they’re short on time or resource.
6. Case study
The easiest way to prepare a case study is through written word, a number of images and creating a PDF file of it. You can share this on your website, on social channels and even send it directly to your clients and the media. Case studies allow prospects to actively look into the challenges your customer faced, why they chose you and how the service performed by way of changing their business. Don’t be too wordy…1,000 would suffice, and ensure you box out the most impressive points. In addition, use bullet points and imagery to break up the copy and make it easier to digest.
7. Guest blog
Not all customers are willing to be filmed, or stand up and present to people at an event, so a guest blog may just be the perfect way to capture a more passive customers viewpoint. If you have a popular blog channel, ask your customer to submit a blog topic. You could also use a Q&A format instead or a thought piece style article. You could even interview the customer and transcribe the session, making it super simple for your them to take part in, which is half the problem solved in most cases.
8. Round table
Most companies miss the opportunity to influence people through topic-led round tables. , yet they are a great way to provide shelter against a hard-sell. As B2B selling can often have very long lead times, organising round tables and inviting a mix of persuasive customers, prospects and an industry thought leader can really help. Your prospects are exposed to influencers without you having to drive the hard sell.
And don’t forget, even if a customer isn’t willing or able to publicly endorse you, they may be willing to speak privately to a prospect. Opinions from satisfied customers can often make or break a deal so ensure that you recruit these persuasive weapons into your arsenal.