So you have a sales & marketing team already. Or maybe you don’t. Either way, here are nine (other) groups of people who can help you increase awareness, drive demand and close business.
1. All Employees
Do your employees believe in not just what you’re selling, but what that product or service is enabling for your customers? Are they passionate about helping to make customers successful, and does that show in the way they do their job every day?
How are your employees serving as brand ambassadors at customer events, on customer forums, on their own social media channels and more?
2. Your immediate, collective network
Think about your immediate circle of influence. Past colleagues, fellow alumni, association members, etc. Do they know what you do? Do you know what you do for your customers? When’s the last time you updated them? Do they have any idea how they might help you? Have you ever asked for an explicit, specific referral or introduction?
Your network won’t know how to help you unless 1) they know what you do, 2) they know what you’re looking for, and 3) you ask, specifically, from time to time.
3. Current customers
Sure, start with your raving fans. Your ambassadors. Hopefully, you already know who they are and give them plenty of opportunity and incentive to spread the word. But what other, more subtle ways can the majority of your generally satisfied customers drive awareness and discovery among their own peers, their own immediate networks?
Oftentimes they won’t do that with a straight introduction, or a “pitch” for what you’re selling. But they might pass along a best practices guide. Or a webinar invite. Or something that helps those in their network, and makes them look good in the process.
4. Prospective customers
There are many reasons why prospective customers might not have yet bought. And some of them will still sing your praises, and drive referrals back your direction. So how are you identifying those prospective referral sources? What tools can you give prospective customers to share your story?
Sometimes prospective customers take another job, and have an easier time buying. Sometimes they have an internal decision-maker blocking the purchase, but will still passionately share your story to others in an association, at a show, in an online forum, etc.
5. Your customer’s (or prospect’s) employees or direct reports
The people working for your prospects might be upwardly-mobile. Have aspirations of promotions, raises and new responsibilities. Would they look good if they introduced your product or service to their boss, and got credit for the benefits and outcome it created?
This group includes gatekeepers. Don’t treat them as a barrier to decision-makers. Oftentimes, they can be catalysts to the sale, not deterrents.
6. Early adopters
Not just early adopters who are direct prospective customers. Think more broadly in your category about those individuals who always want to be first, not just to try something but to tell others about it.
Your industry, and the concentric circles that surround it, are full of these types of early adopters. Their glory comes in breaking news, having a scoop, creating a trend. Give them early and often access, plus tools and channels to tell others.
If you’re using channels to help drive sales, you may assume that your partners are already, naturally incented to drive business your way. But those same partners may be overwhelmed by the variety and/or breadth of other products they’re taking to market and sell.
Are you going to be their squeaky wheel? Will you give them tools to help them sell more to their customers – messaging, marketing templates, etc.? Do you know what their objectives are, what relationship they’re trying to create with their customers, and what role you can more actively play to enable that for them?
If you’re better than they are, have no fear. Meet them head on. If you’re really bold, encourage them to go head-to-head, drive reviews, reference you in their own collateral.
This is a slippery slope, but if a competitor has more resources than you do, and is helping you drive greater awareness and inbound interest, that can be a net-positive game.
9. Press (professional & amateur)
Few companies, especially in B2B, are adequately engaging the long tail of “press” who influence your current and prospective customers. Yes, there are the professional journalists who write for magazines, trade journals and the like. But amateur content producers can have equal if not greater readership and influence. These might be people like you (in some industries, the most influential media channels are produced by sellers themselves).
Matt Heinz is principal at Heinz Marketing, a sales & marketing consulting firm helping businesses increase customers and revenue. Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.heinzmarketing.com.