How to Evangelize Customers: Beyond the Bottom of the Funnel Jessica Lunk The process of gaining customers and generating sales is long and time-consuming – especially for B2B companies with a long sales cycle. By the end of a closed sale, it can be easy for both the sales and marketing teams to figuratively “wash their hands” of the customer and move on to closing the next batch of leads. But there’s a problem with this approach. The problem is that some of the greatest value generated from a customer comes after the close—or beyond the funnel. Entrepreneur and business leader Rory Vaden explains it like this in his article, The 7 Stage Customer Evangelism Lifecycle: You don’t need customers who are pleased with their experience and so they tell no one. That’s neutral and neutral is negative. What you need is customers who are so on fire about what you have provided to them that they have no choice but to take to social media and spread the positive love to all of their friends in the same way they would tell them about a great movie. Here’s how sales and marketing professionals can create go beyond the funnel to evangelize customers and boost revenue: Provide Excellent Customer Service It may be obvious, but the first step to evangelizing customers is to provide great customer service. Customers are much more likely to come back if they enjoyed their purchasing experience – that’s a no-brainer. After they have purchased, however, there is even more you can do to bring them back for future purchases: Offer special discounts: Your customer’s purchase history indicates which products and services they are most interested in. Email customers when the things they normally purchase from you are on sale or in season, or reach out to customers when their renewal or anniversary date comes up. Reward their loyalty to your business with special customer-only discounts or perks. Follow-up: A follow-up call or email ensures that everything went well with their first purchase and gives your business the opportunity to nip and issues in the bud before your customer turns to social media to voice any frustrations. Following up also keeps your brand top of mind and reinforces your relationship with the customer. Survey: It’s easy to develop products and services in a vacuum, but you don’t know for sure how they will be received until you listen to your customers. Collecting anonymous survey data can help you pin-point areas you can improve to make the customer experience better. Taking time to listen to customer feedback can turn one-time purchases into repeat business and referrals when your customers tell their friends and connections about their exceptional experience. Generate Customer Referrals Acquiring a new customer takes a lot of time, money and hard work. That’s why customer referrals are so important to your business. Consumers are much more likely to invest in products and services when a peer makes a recommendation – here’s how to boost your customer referrals: Ask for referrals directly: Getting referrals can be as easy as asking a question. After speaking with happy customers, a member of your team can simply ask the question, “would you recommend our product to others?” The worst they could say is “no.” If they answer, ask them who you could call about the product. You can also create a simple email that asks your satisfied customers for referrals – after all, sometimes the happiest customers are the ones you never hear from. Keep a list of references: Sometimes a reference from a happy customer is the final incentive a prospect needs to do business with you. Ask your happy customers if they would be willing to be a reference so you have a running list of folks you can reach out to and a moment’s notice. Try to build a list that includes references from each vertical – for instance, try to have a reference in each industry you serve so you can tailor the reference to the prospect’s unique perspective. Collect testimonials and reviews: A simple email campaign to satisfied customers can help you gather testimonials for your website or reviews for industry review sites. Tip: Don’t bombard your customers with too many asks at once – they’ll get burnt out. Track your communication so you’re only reaching out quarterly or yearly. Tap into social media: Peer-to-peer referrals are most widely generated by social media. Reward your customers for tweeting or posting about their experience to their social network. Using social media networks, you target your customers’ acquaintances or partner-companies and offer the same results you gave your customers. Make sure it’s easy to share your message. This includes social share buttons on your website and in your emails. When it comes to post-close success, the greatest achievement you can make is to create product evangelists out of your customers. These customers will actively invite others around them, whether in person or online, to try out your product. They become mini-salespeople and also your most valuable relationships. A successful sale takes work. An evangelized customer takes even more work, but the rewards are well worth it. Apply the principles above to ensure your customers keeping giving you value well beyond the bottom of the funnel.