3 Reasons Why Existing Customers Are Your Best Salespeople

Reaching out to contacts and prospects is a necessary evil for any small business. No company can ever get off the ground without learning how to sell their product, but calling, messaging, and visiting potential clients can be a huge time commitment.

Reaching out to contacts and prospects is a necessary evil for any small business. No company can ever get off the ground without learning how to sell their product, but calling, messaging, and visiting potential clients can be a huge time commitment. And it’s not even guaranteed to work. In fact, the sales research firm TOPO recently published a report showing that less than 24% of contact emails are ever opened and that call-back rates on cold calls are less than one percent. While recent technologies are helping many to automate their processes, cold contacting remains a necessary stumbling block in the path of sales teams.But cold calling is not the only way. Experts have observed that contact success rates jump up to 40%  when contacts come through a referral. That’s forty times the rate you should expect from cold calls! It seems obvious that salespeople should be asking for a referral at every stage of a customer relationship. However, a Texas Tech study showed that 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer others, but only 29% actually do. Simply put, too few salespeople are seeking referrals from their existing customers.Existing customers aren’t good salespeople just because they can connect you to people who are interested in your product or service. They actually bring value to the table when they introduce a friend that you couldn’t capture otherwise. Here are a few of the reasons why existing customers are the most valuable salespeople in your company:

1) They’re Not Salespeople

This point might run contrary to everything that’s been said in this article thus far, but it’s true. Customers don’t work for your company. Sure, they might get a commission or some other form of kickback, but to the new contact, they’re a friend. Your salesperson, on the other hand, will always be treated with caution.According to Nielsen, the opinions of family, colleagues, and friends are the most trustworthy source of information about a company. 84% of consumers trust those recommendations, compared to just 68% of consumers who trust online reviews. No matter how good your salesperson is, they still represent your company, and thus, will not be completely trusted by potential customers. Referrals come with trust already built-in. Because someone they trust relies on you, they know they can too.

2) They’ve Been Through It Before

Companies are typically slow to adopt new products and services into their business. While cost is the primary barrier to making such changes, the difficulty of adopting a new product comes in second. The truth is, buying from your salespeople requires a leap of faith. If what you’re selling doesn’t work, their time and money is wasted. Business owners want stability in their decisions.One of the few ways that business owners can feel safe in adopting a new product or service is if they know how easy it is to use, and how it can help them be more successful. That’s where referrals come in. Knowing someone who already uses the product is like a safety net; it allows them to feel confident in their purchase decision because they know someone that’s already experienced all the positives (and pains) that come with the product.

3) Helping Others Builds Their Own Relationship with Your Company

Customers who give referrals aren’t just giving you new business, they’re building loyalty as well. When acting as a touch point for a potential client, your customer feels more involved and is more likely to offer referrals in the future. In fact, engaged customers refer 2.68 friends on average. If you can achieve the average 40% success rate on those referrals, you can expect to convert one referral per customer, effectively doubling your client base.If your sales team wants to reach its full potential, it’s crucial that they utilize the best salesperson they have on their side. Current customers not only offer connections, but they also have a trusting relationship with their contacts in place and can act as additional support for the new customer. When your current customers see their referrals signing on, they’ll feel motivated to sell more. The best part of all? Acquiring these customers is simple: just ask.

Taft Anderson

Taft Anderson is the former Product Marketing Manager of Swipesum. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis' Olin Business School, Taft is a content and branding expert.

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