Your Customers Are Your Sales Force!

Every day, it becomes easier and easier for your competitors to reach your customers.

That's not an opinion; it's reality. Look at all the opportunities they have: Groupon coupons, social media information bombardment, Google placement and advertisements, Rue La La ... the Internet has opened doors that no one dreamed existed ten or even five years ago.

How can you compete?

You can't. It's that simple. Unless you have an endless advertising budget and a sales force of hundreds, the best way to compete is by eschewing competition altogether. Why spend your time, energy, and money frenetically working a marketplace where your voice is one among thousands? Isn't your time and money better spent doing what you do best?

Paradoxically, it's by doing just that -- creating and producing a superior product or service and linking it to the best customer service in the business -- that you'll find yourself not only keeping your current customers, but also gaining more.

Instead of participating in the fray, focus on supporting and growing relationships with your core customers and turning those customers into your best salespeople.

And they are. When people get really excited about a company with which they do business, they share their positive experiences with colleagues, friends, and family, brag about how great it is to work with your company, even sometimes note how clever they were to find your company. Most importantly, they will passionately recommend your company to everyone who will listen.

Retention is the way smart businesses are growing their customer bases. While other companies spend the majority of their acquisition budgets interrupting people with too-frequent emails and in-your-face advertisements, smart marketers leverage the internet and focus on keeping their current customers happy -- and armed with the tools and information they need to become brand advocates and ambassadors.

Those tools aren't difficult to find. Shares and likes are at your fingertips in social media forums, forward-to-a-friend is available on most emails. Put them in the hands of your most enthusiastic customers and they can drive dramatic growth ... at low or no cost to you!

Setting up a positive experience for your customers is painless, takes little time, and will give you an amazing ROI:

• Make the customer experience of buying from your company an event, like going to a great party.

• Make the customer service experience over-the-top easy and straightforward.

• Enable group buying discounts.

• Enable your own branded community where customers can feel like they are part of the company.

• Enable subgroups on your social pages.

• Enable product discussions and allow your customers to feel they participate on the product delivery team.

• Make it easy for your customers to bring their friends along for the ride, which makes the party better for everyone.

This is what excellent CRM is all about ... making sure that your customers are so committed to your product or service, and to the experience of shopping with you, that they become your ambassadors.

But remember that you have to put in the time and the effort to making them become committed. You do that by following up with them, using transition marketing techniques if they're new to your company, sending them relevant offers and specials, making sure that every contact they have with your company is positive (and "making it right" if ever the contact is less than satisfactory), and asking them to share their experiences with others.

Your customers are your best sales force. Make sure that they have something to brag about!

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