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How to Include Customers in the Sales Process

While Salesforce is often associated with tracking leads, managing contacts and deploying marketing campaigns, it has the potential to be utilized in a more unique way.

In many respects, customers are the best sales people. There's no denying the value that experienced sales professionals bring to the table, but a solid reference can go a long way in converting leads.

Finding influential entities with analytics 

While developing top-notch products and services is a key component in generating public, laudatory comments among existing clients and customers, the Salesforce environment can be leveraged to support such views. According to iTWire contributor David Williams, it starts with deducing which patrons are the most influential and reputable.

Many Salesforce consultant firms take note of the solution's analytics infrastructure, which can scrutinize web and social media activity to identify figures who hold sway over particular target audiences. Integrating a sophisticated text mining tool into a Salesforce deployment can single out a critical component: positive association.

Positive association occurs when a person writes a blog, Facebook status, tweet or public comment that states a viewpoint or opinion and readers agree with the expressed sentiment. This concurrence is supported by re-tweets, likes, good-natured responses and so forth.

Engage the contingency 

Once you find such individuals, it's important that Salesforce is customized to allow targeted engagement. While greasing these influential customers with attractive offers and upsells is a common route some companies may take, the sales team needs to go a step beyond that.

Sharing information and generating genuine conversations foster a level of trust that can't be attained through quick, "targeted" marketing campaigns. Employees need to make the communication colloquial, in-depth and respect customer opinions and advice. While platforms such as Community Cloud can support such an environment, it's imperative that the sales team and customer representatives have an incredibly high work ethic. Initiating discussions and then abandoning them isn't going to develop empathy.

Increasing sales 

ZDNet contributor Paul Greenberg acknowledged the symbiosis of conventional record-keeping tools and engagement applications. Leveraging this cohesive environment involves taking the aforementioned conversations and funneling them through lead-generating avenues. Putting positive customer testimonials at the forefront of marketing is a powerful action to take.

That's where the logistical nature of CRM comes into play. Seamless connectivity between customer contacts and reference programs should be enforced, as it will eliminate a number of tedious steps that prevent customer relationship professionals from deploying campaigns quickly.
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