Word of mouth can be either the stuff of dreams or nightmares for sales professionals. When it’s positive, it can have a major beneficial impact on lead generation and winning new sales. When it’s negative, it can seriously damage credibility and overall sales efforts. Since it’s such an important factor in your sales success, we wanted to take the time to discuss some of the best ways to both boost positive word of mouth and guard against the negative.
- Provide an excellent customer experience
This sounds obvious and it is. To both garner positive word of mouth and ward off reputation damage, make sure the customer has an excellent experience. And yet, too often, businesses forget that most basic practice. We want to emphasize excellent here – a perfectly acceptable or average experience won’t harm you, but nor will it help.
What precisely this superior experience will look like depends on your vertical and your clientele. For example, if you’re a B2B business, really get to know the ins and outs of your clients and how your solution fits in with their overall work flow and plan, and be prompt with any questions or support requests – responding within 24 hours or less is a good measurement to follow.
Regardless of what the fantastic customer experience looks like, it’s both the simplest and most important part of generating positive word of mouth. Without it, your efforts will have limited success at best.
- Ask for referrals – both informal and formal
The most direct way of generating positive word of mouth is to ask buyers to refer you to others who might be good potential prospects. Typically, this is most effective when implemented after you’ve earned some goodwill.
- Incentivize word of mouth
Used in conjunction with referrals, a growing number of businesses are offering perks for successful referrals, such as a discount, free swag (which doubles as another promotional channel), etc. As a sales professional, ensure you find ways to show your appreciation and add value to your customers who are willing to help.
- Be active and engaged on social media
Active, engaging content on social media is a winner for many industries. Two world-class examples are Wendy’s Twitter account - acclaimed for its genuinely hilarious snark - and Sephora’s Beauty Board, which features the popular retailer’s clients – not just the manipulated photos of literally too flawless to be real Instagram models.
In the B2B sector, that means LinkedIn - engaging with clients’ content and posts in an organic, natural conversational way and making sure to respond to their interactions on your own material. It also means outreach should be meaningful and not a sales pitch.
Regardless of your social media marketing strategy (itself conditional on your business specifics of course), one primary principle stands out for positive word of mouth: engage in meaningful interaction with your customers.
Starting from a base of a wonderful customer service experience, you can branch out across multiple channels to interact with clients and encourage buyers to spread positive word of mouth. Paying attention and following these guidelines will help increase credibility, leads, opportunities, and ultimately sales.