Sales, Meet Customer Marketing

This article was written by @Mik  – a member of the CLG Campus Crew

“What is customer marketing?”… said a seller once upon a time. More likely said by roughly 90% of sellers today. That was me once. But, it truly shouldn’t be that way. Over the past year, I’ve learned and lived the power of customer marketing (as a seller) and feel it would be an absolute crime not to share my vantage point with my fellow sales kin.

To all the challenger sellers, lone wolves, SPINsters, nervous nellies, and thousands of other unique profiles, the climate is tough, our leads are going to slow down and we’re most than likely going to be missing quota more frequently than normal. Tough, but true.

What I’ve learned is to turn to experienced sellers for some secret ingredients to weather the storm. But what I’ve more recently learned is to turn to your customer marketers to help with some magic tricks as well.

Customer Marketing = The team/program/person responsible for creating & nurturing 1:many relationships across the company’s customer base to help promote engagement, retention, growth, and overall advocacy.

Below are 4 ways your customer marketing teams will help support you in getting to your number (or close):

(1) Progressing New Business Deals

The customer reference. We all want them. More of them. Our ‘back pocket’ references may not be good enough or getting tapped out. As you may be sensing, more proof points in your tighter deals seem to be correlated with more closed/won deals.

Real-life example: A company deep in its buying process has narrowed its choices down to two platforms: Platform Alpha and Platform Beta. The buyer requests to speak with customer references to help them better differentiate between these two platforms that have very similar features, pricing, and customer service promises. Platform Alpha takes a few weeks to coordinate two customer reference calls that go exceptionally well and are somewhat of a good fit for the company to speak with. Platform Beta quickly finds five different customers with nearly the same use case, size, and geography for the customer to speak within a matter of days. Which Platform do you think the company went with?

The above example exemplifies the impact that your customer marketing team can have on your deals through customer proof and differentation. Follow their process and let them do what they do best (find, activate, and nurture existing happy customers across your company’s customer base).

Not to mention all those customer proof points can be used in parallel. Who wouldn’t want more case studies, testimonials, videos, and quotes? Me, me, me.

(2) New Leads

Those same customer proof points, reviews, and customer referrals lead to more pipeline for us salesfolk. As your manager says, more pipeline! More! But seriously, the more customers they can tap on and activate for these activities, the higher likelihood that more leads will flow in as a result.

What you can do to help: work closely with your customer marketers to educate them on interesting use cases, ‘wow’ factors in the market, recent customers ripe for success stories, etc. I know you’re focused on prospecting, progressing deals, and keeping your forecast clean, but these little acts of service will go a LONG way with your customer marketing team to help you when you truly need it.

(3) Upselling/Renewing (if incentivized on that)

Not all salespeople keep the show going after the big event (the close), but for those that do, your customer marketing team may become your best friend to keep the conversation going. A big piece of what they do is nurture customers at scale and will aim to move them into the ‘advocacy’ phase where these customers will be involved in a program that allows them to participate in a variety of activities and many times be rewarded/recognized for their efforts. Sometimes they even run customer interviews where feedback is given that maybe your CS team is unaware of. Regardless, they typically are working hand in hand with CS to identify keystone moments to have growth conversations and if you stay close to them and let them do their magic, you may get some easy wins for your cross-sells/upsells. Go ask them about it.

(4) Reducing Existing Customer Advocacy KPIs

Something I mentioned in a few sections before was helping customer marketing identify good customers with stories to tell. Some companies out there place pressure on their sales team to surface a certain amount of customers a month, and if not, it is something that salespeople should work on regardless because it helps the customer marketing team and deepens the relationship with your newly signed customers.

If you work tight with customer marketing and let them take the burden off you through things like automated campaigns across email, community, academy, etc. to your customers, you may find yourself with more deals you’ve signed wanting to be involved than you thought, and less work on your end to have made that happen. Win, win in my books…

We discussed 4 ways Customer Marketing can make a positive impact on your success.

So let’s get this partnership rolling and find more ways that they can help you, but also how you can help them. What is there to lose?