13
Jun

Utilize Customer Feedback to Drive Sales

By Heather Timney

Influence prospects by leveraging customer satisfaction programs.

Detailed customer insights are a veritable treasure trove of valuable information for your company.  They help inform process improvement decisions, the allocation of company resources, feature / functionality enhancements and employee development. An often overlooked application, however, is the use of insight and data captured from your feedback programs to help your sales team close more deals.

The long-term benefits of formal customer feedback programs are quite clear. Responding to customer feedback goes a long way in building trust and confidence in your business. Customers who feel their voices are being heard and action is being taken are more likely to become loyal advocates. But what if you can use the same information to improve sales close rates? Here are a few suggestions on integrating feedback programs with your business development efforts.

Validate and expand your reference list: It’s a common scenario. The decision comes down to your firm and one or two competitors.  Now the prospect wants to speak with references. The salesperson’s greatest ally for closing the sale are other customers who will rave about your business. In the absence of formal customer feedback programs, companies often rely on members of the sales, marketing or account service team to identify reference accounts. This can be a risky proposition as their view may not always reflect the full story. I have seen countless situations when using the wrong customers as references resulted in a lost sales opportunity. An impartial assessment of current customer sentiment will remove the inherent bias employees often have when identifying references. This way, only your most passionate customer contacts will be used as references for sales opportunities. Your survey data can also highlight other customer contacts who are enthusiastic about the service your company provides, thereby enabling you to expand your reference list.

Demonstrate your firm’s customer-centric culture: Customer feedback efforts can be incorporated into select marketing collateral such as your website, brochures, proposals or new business pitch presentations. Showcase your company’s commitment to customer loyalty by highlighting customer quotes or testimonials (with permission), describing your customer feedback process (like Net Promoter Score®) and sharing positive trends in satisfaction or retention. The evidence you present to them will have a powerful influence on their decision.

Refine the sales pitch: Businesses are always tinkering with their brand, positioning and sales pitch. Candid feedback from surveys, Client Advisory Boards and New Business Win / Loss Analysis will identify specific themes and messages that resonate with your company’s target market. You will also learn how existing and prospective customers view your value proposition compared with the competition. Sharing this knowledge with your sales team and incorporating key points into your pitches will further galvanize your business development efforts.

Differentiate from the competition: Voice-of-customer programs help to build credibility and trust. Show your prospects that you use customer feedback to drive changes. Share examples of how your products and services have evolved to adapt to the changing needs of the market. Let them know your organization is dedicated to ongoing customer-driven improvement. This will serve as a key differentiator and help your company stand apart from the competition.

The most successful customer feedback programs are leveraged to influence departments across the organization. Arming the sales team with this valuable source of insight will increase sales close rates and drive revenue growth for your organization.

®Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld