Customer Advocacy: How to Break into Cutting-Edge Sales Roles
Steven Minsky | Nov. 7, 2019
Whether you’re in customer success, customer support, a renewal specialist, client services, or inside sales, there’s a more rewarding way to solve challenges and create an impact through a customer advocacy program.
As a customer success or client support representative, you get to do what you love – help people! But maybe you have been thinking of a sales role where you can make a greater impact in solving customer challenges? If this is the case, you may have encountered some common challenges of most sales jobs. They are often based on earning commissions that turn customers into transactions and create uncertainty in how much money you will make. Another barrier many considering a career in sales do not like is the monotony and brutal nature of cold calling.
How to Make a Customer Advocacy Program Your Reality
Eliminate Cold Calling: Cold calling has been the staple of sales for as long as there have been telephones. However, it is successful only 2 percent of the time. What a waste of resources in comparison to qualified leads converting 20 percent of the time, while customer referrals convert half the time. What a mind-numbing job of 8-10 calls per hour, all day, every day. Week after week.
Compensation: A Customer Advocacy program eliminates the conflicts of interest that arise when employees are paid by commission. It encourages performance by incentivizing employees based on skill development, solution competency, and how they help customers. It’s about investing in employees. Although the compensation is similar, the goal is to shift behavior from transaction-based interactions, which largely ignore the customer experience, to behaviors that create positive customer relationships. Additionally, investing in stronger employee competencies, in both the product and your customer’s industry, role, and challenges, makes sales professionals more effective problem solvers and higher performers. Instead of commissions, base salary is determined by solution certifications earned and sustaining key metrics. Bonuses are earned by performance against a baseline goal. An 80% starting base salary, which increases with skill competency certifications, gives an employee a strong sense of stability, control, and commitment from a company so they can plan their cost of living and enjoy their work-life balance. Customer Advocacy makes customer prospects more educated and in need of getting their particular questions answered and how a solution will specifically help them and about the advisory services that will walk-them through the onboarding process and ensure their success. This approach removes a lot of the uncertainty of goal achievement and erratic paychecks. Compensation is also much less susceptible to change during a recession, which means you can better predict your lifestyle.
Impact on Culture: Customer Advocacy groups encourage a positive overall company culture, fostering collaboration and innovation within an organization. Outdated sales compensation can instead foster an unhealthy culture of competitiveness that ultimately is not in the company’s – or the customer’s – best long-term interest. Instead of often territorial sales environments, commission-free sales groups are encouraged to share best practices, improving the entire team and creating long-term success. These metrics come through measuring the overall output of the sales channels on an ongoing basis, as opposed to measuring the results of specific individuals in a given month. When your teams understand this, it helps build a culture of continual improvement. It takes the punitive spotlight off people and focuses on what’s more important: measuring and continuing to improve the true capabilities of the overall system you built.
Churn Rate: Customers acquired by cold calling have a 10x higher churn rate than those acquired through a lead-nurture based approached. Although the customer journey for their purchase decision remains the same, educational lead nurturing eliminates endless cold-calling. With this approach, potential customers are already aware of your brand and solution by the time they interact with sales.
Sales Cycle: The time spent with account managers during the sales cycle is reduced by 75 percent when using a Customer Advocacy program combined with lead nurturing. When customers advocate for your solution at trade events, online, in user groups and through referrals, the confidence prospects have in choosing your solution increases and therefore decision-making time decreases.
Long-Term Results: The time from evaluation to purchase is often underestimated by prospects. Typically only one in three potential customers will adhere to the timeline outlined at the start of their sales cycle. This means that the customer journey experience for two out of three potential customers in a sales cycle needs to be future-focused. Prospects should be energized about returning to a purchase decision in the future. This can only be done as a result of a positive customer experience, created by Customer Advocacy representatives whose goal is to help customers solve their challenges, rather than to close a transaction.
Doing what’s in your customers best interest is essential to a successful business. As the See-Through Economy continues to strengthen, it’s vital that companies strengthen their customer experience along with it through a Customer Advocacy group.