From Brand Trust to Brand AdvocacyArticle by Colleen Francis, October 11, 2018
It used to be that buyers needed to know you first before they could trust your product. Today the reverse is true. You’ll only get the chance to build a personal relationship with a buyer once they trust your brand can help them. And, once you have that relationship in place, you can recruit a fan base for your product to generate future revenue.
But let’s first go back a step to building that personal rapport. You’ve earned a client’s trust of your corporate brand. Now how do you strengthen ties at a more personal level ? In today’s market, you need to connect ubiquitously. Engage your buyers via every means possible, including (but not limited to) Skype, Facebook Live, LinkedIn, email, websites, Google, networking and association events, and even how-to videos on YouTube. Also reach out by phone, referrals, and via association content. But remember: all of these efforts to connect with buyers personally will only be effective once your corporate brand has resonated with clients and has built a foundation with them. In this sense, it’s never been more critical for Marketing and Sales to be aligned in their messaging and targeting. When was the last time you met with your marketing colleagues to set a common focus?
In this market, relationship building takes time. Give your buyers the opportunity to form an opinion of you first, based on their own research and communication. Then reinforce that opinion through the personal relationships.
Here’s an example of how personal and brand rapport work together to improve revenue:
For years, a commodity trading client of mine was suffering from an average-to-low closing rate of 25%. The company was also using only cold calling and emails to find buyers, engage with them, and to close. In short, they were employing a traditional sales process.
With my help, they implemented a series of buying insights that were posted on their website as well as in social media groups, targeted emails, and industry newsletters. They started sending articles and ideas to their contact database, used them to produce high-value webinars and how-to videos, and began speaking at conferences. In less than six months, their closing rates improved by 30% and their time-to-close rate (i.e., the number of days required to close a deal) rocketed up 50%. Profitability also grew 4 points per order.
Advocacy from near and far
Once you’ve built personal relationships with your buyers, it’s time to leverage the social proof. Turn a happy customer into an advocate who can attract more prospects for you to convert into new customers. (And remember to hold onto a large percentage of your existing clients!)
An active customer is uniquely positioned to speak with authority on how your product or service is the real deal and benefiting them with measurable ROI. Your customer can say true things about you publicly in a way that no amount of advertising can buy. In other words, they can provide testimonials and case studies that can be converted into buying insights for new client attraction.
A business services software client of mine was suffering from an abysmal closing rate of 68:1. It was stifling their growth and causing sellers to leave in droves. After all, who would want to work that hard to close one deal! After we implemented a campaign to flood the marketplace with testimonials, case studies and referrals, closing rates soared to 5:1 — with no drop in profitability! That’s a 13 times increase, or 1300% increase, in sales annually. Can you top that annualized growth rate?
Generating advocates won’t happen unless you ask. And sadly, most sellers don’t. They assume that their customers are too busy, or that testimonials aren’t effective. These are all excuses. The word of your client remains one of the most powerful tools in any seller’s arsenal. They are persuasive because the person delivering that message isn’t you making promises; it’s someone who can affirm how your promises turned into meaningful, positive results. You must leverage those positive experiences and capture that success. Once you’ve done that, your customer will become deeply integrated into your success story. They’ll want to see you achieve more because now they’ll have a stake in both you and your corporate brand.