There’s something known as the perfect customer life cycle. It starts from acquiring a prospect, nurturing them and then making them a customer. However, it goes even further: It includes turning that customer is your sales person. Any business that does this successfully will never lack for quality prospects because they are being referred by the best sales force available on the planet — People who have bought your product/service and love it.
Now the question is: How do you turn those customers into a strong sales force? Here are tips that will help…

1. Start From The Very Beginning
If you start thinking about making your customers your sales persons after they’ve made a purchase, then you are already too late. It starts from the very moment you are trying to acquire them as prospects. This will determine how you design your sales funnel. You will treat them with delicate care because you are NOT just interested in making a quick buck. You intend to build a partnership that will go on for a long time. You will make sure that you connect with your prospect at a level that other businesses in your niche don’t even bother about. You will ensure that you develop products that meet their real desires. You will ensure that any issues or challenges they may have are resolved in a very timely and professional manner. In fact, you’ll simply do everything within your power to sweep them off their feet.

2. You Will Make Them Feel Special Selling For You
How do you think a customer would feel if they know that their friends can buy your product at a special discount just because they referred them? Walk in through the door like every other person and you’ll pay 15% more but come with a coupon or discount code from this special customer and you’ll pay a lot less.
Remember, they already love your product and now you are showing them they are really special by offering their friends a discount. This will motivate them to promote your product.

3. Make Them Your Affiliates
How about paying them even after you’ve given their friends that special treatment all because of them? How about paying them a commission for referring their friends? You can easily start an affiliate program and make all your existing customers automatic members. How do you think your customers will feel if they got a check in the mail? They open it and discover that they’ve just earned commissions for referring some of their friends to your business? Do you think this will make them send over even more of their friends and acquaintances?

Don’t forget this: You are NOT trying to make them promote a product or service they don’t care about. They already love what you offer. You are only giving them an incentive to talk about it the more.

4. Make It Easier For Them To Share In Your Wealth
Affiliate commissions can motivate your customers to spread the word around. However, you can do something special to compel them to go the extra mile: Offer them lifetime commissions on every referral that comes to your business through them. Think about it: All you need is just one encounter with your target prospect if you have a great product. That’s where you spend a lot of money.

If your customers know that they’ll keep earning something (albeit little) for people they refer, they’ll be encouraged to do so. Have you ever been “waylaid” by network marketers? Do you see the enthusiasm with which they promote products from the parent company? It’s because they now share in the wealth. Can you make your existing customers go all out to promote your business this way?

Many businesses just focus on acquiring new customers without doing anything to turn their existing customers into fans. What they do NOT understand is that doing this would help them make more money from repeat sales (That’s apart from the fact that it would bring in more business just by word-of-mouth promotions). So how do you go about turning those customers into raving fans?

1. Over-Deliver On The Promise
Every business can make promises when they are looking to get the sale. However, very few can actually over-deliver. Yes, many just work hard to deliver what they’ve promised. Those who go a step farther by doing more than they promised are very likely to have very happy customers. And you know what? Happy customers easily convert to fans.

2. Make Sure You Provide Excellent Support
Can you remember the last time you encountered a company with poor customer support? How did you feel when you had to be sent from pillar to post just to get one question answered? How did you feel when it was obvious their support staff weren’t adequately trained and so did NOT understand your problem well enough to get it resolved as quickly as possible? You were turned off. Are you likely to do business with such a firm again? I doubt so.

But how did you feel when you met with support staff that resolved your challenge in minutes because they were well trained and knowledgeable? How did you feel when they went out of their way to ensure everything worked just fine? How did you feel when they called back a few days later just to find out if everything was still ok?

Now I know that many businesses do NOT go the extra mile to call back later to check on you and to ensure everything is fine. But that’s something that would turn normal customers into raving fans. Call them to check if everything is still working as it should and be willing to make their lives as easy as possible and you will win their hearts.

3. Show Them You Really Care About Them
The truth is that people love dealing with people who truly care about them. Technology has NOT changed that (and will NOT). How would you feel if you get a birthday present from a company you did business with sometime last year? “Wow, so they still remember me,” you’ll say. That single act will raise them above competitors who do NOT show as much interest in you.

So make out time to brainstorm ways to show that tender loving care (without breaking your budget). Remember that little things count for much in building a relationship? Let’s assume you run a restaurant: You could easily find out their wedding anniversary and give them a special anniversary discount to mark this special day. Depending on how loyal they are as customers, you can arrange a surprise dinner for them. After all, you are making an investment into a customer who would keep buying from you for years.

4. Make Them Look Good Before Their Friends
Make them look good before their friends. How do you do that? Give their friends special discounts and add something like “Special discount for John’s friends.” Get creative. What would make you look good before your friends? What would make your employees look good before their friends? Ask questions and you’ll get a lot of tips that will transform your business.

Customer acquisition is one thing that eats up the budget of most small businesses. However, many of them do NOT pay close attention to building a loyal customer base. What these business owners do NOT recognize is that repeat customers spend about 33% more than first-time buyers on average. Furthermore, loyal customers become brand evangelists who go about telling everyone who cares to listen about your products or services — Wouldn’t you rather have such a customer base? Here are things you can do to achieve this…

1. Always Give More Than They Expect

Every business is driven by a desire to profit. However, some make it so obvious by cutting every corner that they can legally. You can differentiate your business by pretending you are NOT interested in maximizing profits.

Give your customers much more than they expect. Yes, it might eat a little in your profit margin but it won’t go unnoticed by your customers. Some might NOT tell you, but they’ll tell others and they’ll keep coming back to you for more.

Do you deliver services? Try to give a little more than they expect. Do you sell products? Throw in something extra from time to time. Make sure they get delivery of their orders a little earlier than they expected. Think of something that is much more than your competition would dare to do. Do it for them and you are on the right path to building a loyal customer base (or do I call it fan base?).

2. Turn Lemons To Lemonade

Take advantage of every bad situation. Studies have shown that you have a window of opportunity to turn an unhappy customer to a raving fan. Let us assume you just got a call from one of your customers about how they are having issues with your product…

a. Do your best to resolve the matter without compelling them to make another call. If it is such that can’t be resolved on the first call, tell them when you’ll call back and make sure you do.

b. Even if you were able to resolve the matter at the first call, call them again just to check on them and ensure everything is running smoothly. This will show them that you really care about them and are NOT just interested in their money.

c. Can you offer them something extra just to say “we are sorry” for the inconvenience they’ve had to put up with? Try this and you’ll have a customer who goes about using your business as an object lesson of what customer support should be.

3. Make Them Feel Special

Don’t we all gravitate towards people who make us feel special? Your customers are NOT different in any way. Show them they are special by giving them special privileges. Can you give them a unique coupon that entitles them to a special offer? Can you give them another that extend such privileges to a limited number of people they choose?

Do you know their birthdays? Do you know a few things about their families? If the business you do allows you to get such information about them, then it makes sense to use it to your advantage…

How would you feel if your get a handcrafted birthday card from a company you did business with a year ago? I guess it will awaken the better emotions in you. And believe it or NOT, unless their products are totally useless (and you don’t have any need for them), they’ll be given top consideration. After all, it takes special people to take note of other special people.

4. Make Sure You Keep In touch

Just call to ask how the product they bought three months ago is performing. Just call to find out how their business has grown due to their interaction with your business. Just call to follow up and find out if they are really happy with the services you rendered.

Call immediately after they make a purchase. Let them know you are there for them (And, please, make sure you are really there for them). This will take up some of your resources but it would be well-worth it.

5. Align Your Business To Be Customer Focused

Make sure you set your business up in such as way that anyone that is contacted can offer some form of support to the inquirer. Make sure you empower your employees to take proactive actions. Does a product need replacement? Make sure it is done with minimum fuss. Yes, you may lose a bit, but it is usually far less than the damage you’ll do to your business if you keep the angry customer waiting.

Along these lines, make sure your employees are trained to deal effectively with customer-related issues. There are few things that can repel customers from a business more than having to be sent from pillar to post just to resolve a minor issue.

Lastly, make sure your customers know that they can get to you, the owner, to report any issues. You may need to delegate matters to competent executives as your business grows. However, the point is that they (your customers) must be able to speak with someone who can wipe all their tears away.

6. Could You Just Pay Attention, Please?

You will get to learn a lot about your customers if you only pay close attention to them. You own the business, quite alright, but it’s NOT about you. It’s about them. All you may have to do is get accounts with the different social networks where your customers hang out. Assign an executive to give just a few minutes a day to monitor what the conversation is in your industry.

People are talking and telling businesses what they need and how they can make them loyal customers. However, few businesses are paying attention. How can they when they are too focused on developing the best products and services those customers will never need?

Listen to what they are saying and you’ll be in a better position to give them what they are looking for.

7. Return Calls Promptly

Do everything within your power to ensure every email is replied to as quickly as possible. Make sure you return every call promptly. The quicker your response is; the better for your business. Go to forums and read product reviews and you will find a number of customers who became raving fans simply because of the promptness of response from a product creator.

Nobody likes to be kept waiting. It makes us feel we are NOT that important to the other party. Most of us will opt for a firm that shows us more respect even if they are NOT the very best (But at least they deliver the goods and value your time).

You can win more customers for your business through social media if you really know how to go about it. There are dos and don’ts if you want to get excellent results. Here are things to bear in mind…

1. Join The Conversation
Don’t ever forget that it is all about holding a conversation. And it is NOT a conversation if you are the one doing all the talking. Listen to what they have to say and then share what you have to say. You’ll soon have no one listening to you if you are the only one doing the talking. People can get that kind of stuff from their TV stations. When people come to social networks they want to hold a conversation.

So how do you get them to hold a conversation? Share tips and ask for their opinions. People like sharing their opinions if they know you’ll listen. Also, ask them what they’ll like your business to focus on the more. Make it about them and NOT you and you would have taken the biggest step in drawing them out of their shells. Many businesses miss the opportunity of holding conversations with new prospects and this costs them dearly as these people move over to competitors who understand how to do this right. Don’t worry if you are NOT skilled in the use of social media. Just get a competent SEO firm and they’ll set things up in a way that you’ll get the best results for your business (You can focus on the things you understand best).

2. Give Much Value
People have so many options these days. Therefore, make sure that they only get top value when they give you their attention. If you are sharing tips, give tips that they can’t find easily elsewhere. If you are sharing something that most people already know, add a slant that isn’t so common. Give them special discounts for paying attention to you. They really deserve it and a move like so would make you stand out more. Think of different ways to reward them for choosing to be part of your audience. But whatever you do, make sure it is always something that they’ll place a lot of value on. Remember, they have very many options.

3. Sell Only 10% Of The Time
Yes, you are into this whole thing to build your business. This isn’t just a game. This means that you’ll have to sell from time to time. However, make sure you only sell for about ten percent of the time. Give free value for about 90% of the time (That is, if you want to maintain your audience). If all people get from you all the time is a pitch then they will tune off and look for your competitors.

4. Look For Networks That Suit Your Business Best
There are different social networks out there and NOT all of them would serve your business equally. Let’s assume you are into a line of work that lends itself to visuals (say, you sell paintings). You will get the best return on your time and investment by taking advantage of networks that are media focused. Think Pinterest. Think Youtube. Your target customer usually hangs out on places like these because they are visual persons.

The point here is: Look at your business and where your ideal customer is most likely to hang out and then spend more of your resources at such networks.

Social media engages your audience. There’s supposed to be a conversation. That is, if you are doing it right. In such a case you’ll be able to give them what they really want and increase your revenue easily. Here are tips to help you indentify and give them what they really want…

1. Make Sure You Give Them Top Quality
The first step is building an audience. However, you can’t build the right audience if you don’t deliver top quality content. This is very important. Also, make sure that the content you deliver ties in well with the core message of your business. That is, make sure it is revolves around your unique selling proposition. Are you focused on making delivery of products faster than anyone else in the industry? Then deliver top quality content that draws attention to getting prompt delivery.

2. Make Sure You Ask Them What They Really Want
Do you want to find out what they really want? It’s very simple: Don’t make assumptions. Just ask them. Many people use social networks the wrong way. They believe that it’s all about them. They believe that people who have elected to follow or like their business are interested in just hearing them talk. Therefore, they just keep talking and telling them all the great products they have released for them.

They don’t just pause to ask: “Do these people have unanswered questions?” “Is it possible that we are NOT meeting their needs at the deepest level?” The few busineses that are smart enough to stop taking and start asking move faster and attract a more loyal and responsive audience. Don’t make this more complicated than it should really be: Just ask them.

3. Watch The Direction Of The Various Conversations
Sometimes people can tell you what they want in very clear terms. Take advantage of such times. However, there are times when they may NOT be able to tell you what they really want if you ask them. You can find out by reading in-between the lines of what they are saying. Make out time (as a business owner) to hang out on your favorite network and just “listen” to the conversation. If you are too busy, delegate a trusted executive to devote half an hour a day to just listen to the conversation. This is NOT going to cost you much in terms of resources but it would help your business position itself better.

4. Reposition Your Business Accordingly
If you’ve asked them the right questions and have also taken the time to pay attention to the various conversations in your niche then you are ready for the next step…

You can tell what they are raving about. You can tell what they think isn’t worth it. It would be great if your product or service is what they are raving about. But if NOT, don’t worry. All you have to do is reposition accordingly. Sometimes your product isn’t different from what they are raving about. It’s just packaged differently. In such a case all you’ll have to do is change the packaging. However, there are times when you just have to dump a “beloved” product that they don’t appreciate. Sometimes you might have to restructure your business. Sometimes you have to retrain your staff. But whatever you do, make sure you are giving them what they really want or else you won’t be in business for too long (That is, unless all your competitors are making the same mistakes as yourself).

Many business owners have heard of the power of social media. Yes, they know it has been used extensively by politicians. They know governments have been toppled by conversations that started on social networks. However, many of them don’t realize the power that is waiting to be unleashed in their business if they use social media right. Here are just a few…

1. Raise Brand Awareness

The brands that have a strong presence on social networks take up a stronger position in people’s minds. Facebook, for example, has hit a billion users globally. What does this mean for your business? You can easily build a strong brand just by taking advantage of this and other platforms (But that is if you do it right).

So what leads to this brand awareness? The increase in the number of mentions your business gets is one strong factor. The bigger factor is the number of positive conversations that revolve around your product or service. So make sure you get them talking about you. There are many ways to do this (But that’s beyond the scope of this discourse — Get a social media expert to help you out).

2. Establish Your Expertise And Credibility As A Professional

When people talk they show their ignorance, fears and challenges (among other things). Experts who engage in the various discussions going on (on those platforms) have an opportunity to establish themselves as experts by providing solutions.

If you can make out time to really help people out, they will flock to you (and tell their friends and followers). The more people who get useful tips and tricks from you, the bigger the followership you build. This establishes your expertise and helps build your credibility as a professional.

Many of those people will eventually choose to do business with you. After all, they already know and trust you. You are NOT a stranger. You are a friend who also happens to be an expert on the subject matter.

3. Engage Existing Clients

Leave your clients for long enough and they’ll end up with your competitor. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is. It is important that you stay in their consciousness always. Social media provide you unique opportunities to stay connected.

You can tweet about the things you are doing. You can post a new article that you believe will be helpful to your clients on your Facebook page. You can pin pictures of the last event you held. Simply put: You can keep them engaged.

4. Drive Traffic Directly

Once people are involved on any platform and you are allowed to link to places of interest, you have new opportunities to drive traffic to your site. This is one of the big benefits many people see in social media. They can get many new visitors to their sites (and with that new business).

For example, imagine you’ve just posted a great article on your blog. You tweet about it and some of your followers head over to your blog and really enjoy your post. They like it, share it, reblog it, tweet it, retweet it and get the whole web (at least in your niche) talking about it. What happens? They all head over to your blog to see what you talked about.

Some will bookmark your page. Some will hang around and look at other things you have to say or offer and some will eventually buy from you.

5. Improve SEO

Social signals have increased in importance with respect to search engine optimization. The logic is: People are bound to talk about it on the different social platforms if the content on your page is that good. Therefore, having a strong social presence will help your search engine optimization efforts in a big way.

Better SEO means higher rankings. Higher rankings mean more traffic, increase in your authority level, improved credibility and much more.

6. Help With Reputation Management

One happy customer can tell thousands about how great your products and services are just with one tweet. But by the same token, a competitor or unhappy customer can ruin your reputation with a tweet. So you really can’t afford to run a business without a strong presence on these social networks.

While you don’t really have to do much when you see compliments flying around the web, you have to rise up and counter every attempt to run your business down. You can’t start when people call you names – That would be too late. You should have built a strong followership before anything goes wrong. If you already did then your followers will counter a lot of the bad things being said about you.

And guess what? It’s best for others to defend you when someone tries to pull you down. Just make sure you already have the right structure in place before a hater picks on you.

7. Deepen Your Knowledge Of Your Customers

The more you know about your customers the better you can serve them and the more profitable your business will be. Social media give you unique opportunities to discover so much about your audience or target market. All you have to do is listen to their conversations. Here are things you stand to gain if you do…

a. You’ll Develop Products That Meet Their Needs

It is one thing to have a great product idea but it is another thing to have a product idea that coincides with exactly what people need. You can trust your gut feeling or you can just pay attention to what your customers are expressing as their needs. Companies that build products (or adapt existing products) based on what they gather from customer conversations stand a better chance in today’s market place.

b. You’ll Be Able To Deal With Their Fears

People respond to their fears. They do everything to make sure they never encounter them. But do you know what your customers’ biggest fears are? Pay close attention to their conversations and you’ll find out.

c. You’ll Be Able To Provide Superior Support

Hang out long enough with your customers and you’ll learn a lot about what they hate about your products and services. They’ll also tell you what they can’t live without. All you have to do is address issues that they don’t like and make sure you don’t let go of things they really love — It’s NOT always what you think.

d. You’ll Anticipate Problems Before They Become Full Blown

Is there a glitch in your product? You’ll learn about it quickly if your business has an ear in social networks. You can sense the feeling and the direction of a conversation. So if you sense there might be a problem at one point or the other, all you’ll have to do is release a statement that addresses that problem. This will make your customers love you. How else could you know what they were thinking about if you weren’t interested in them?