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Top-Shelf Tip No. 113:

"The best advertising is done by satisfied customers."

Philip Kotler

Five Ways To Make Your Customers Your Best Salespeople

Your customers are among your most valuable assets. They create revenue by purchasing your products and services, and they can also help you enhance your leadership, marketing and sales. Every customer you interact with has the potential to become a brand ambassador, generating even more sales revenue. These customers do the work, but you don't need to supply them with a paycheck or health benefits.

Writer Elisa Abbott says that just as you try to maximize your return on any other asset, you should look for ways to convert your customers into a powerful salesforce. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today , we share Abbott's five ways to do this.

1. Create a referral program. If you want your customers to promote your offerings, give them an incentive to do so. Through a referral program, you can provide discounts, rewards points, gifts, cash or special access. Abbott advises sales leaders not to confuse this with an affiliate program, where compensation comes after a sale is made. A referral program should be simple and straightforward. Let your customers know how they'll be rewarded for bringing new business your way.

2. Use customer testimonials to build trust. Abbott says that while it's always important to show prospects how you can help them solve a problem, you should also focus on building trust. Through customer testimonials, you allow prospects to see what their peers have to say about working with you. This goes a long way toward inspiring confidence and trust.

3. Identify influencers and brand ambassadors. Customer reviews and testimonials are valuable. When they come from influencers and brand ambassadors, they're priceless. When prospects receive information from someone influential to them, they often feel inspired to make a purchase. Think about how YouTube and other channels are full of product reviews. Abbott says that if you connect with the right influencers, you can significantly boost your sales figures.

4. Get customers to share user-generated content. Look for ways to get your customers to create content such as tips or advice, customer stories or pictures and videos of customers using your products. Abbott says as a brand you can use this content to create engagement among your audience members. Make it easy for your customers to share content by giving them a platform for thoughts, ideas and images.

5. Simplify and encourage sharing. Even thrilled and enthusiastic customers will only go so far when it comes to advocating for your products and services. Abbott says it's important to make it your role to encourage them and make the process as easy as possible. Place social sharing buttons on your website, ask for likes and shares in your posts, send order confirmation emails with links to review sites and solicit customer testimonials from happy customers.

When you keep your customers happy, you can turn them into a powerful secondary sales force. Try using the tips above to make the most of your satisfied customers.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Elisa Abbott is a freelance writer who writes often about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues.