The Ladder of Loyalty - Turning Prospects into Evangelists

Every business owner dreams of maximizing the evangelists for his business. Evangelists are the people who will shout your praises from the roof top and help you in building an ever-expanding loyal customer base, all for free.

What more can you ask for? But where do you turn your prospects into evangelists? I say this is not an automatic thing, you need to have systems and process to make the customer experience as that of heaven.

This is where the Ladder of Loyalty comes in. It is a customer categorization with seven levels. You start with people who might be your potential customers. While keeping them engaged with your great product line and amazing customer service, you keep increasing their level of loyalty. Eventually, you will have an evangelist for your business.

First, let’s take a look at these different levels of the ladder of loyalty.

  1. Suspect – The first level is that of people who might be potential buyers. This is essentially anybody who could buy from you. For example, your product is available in Melbourne only, then the whole of Melbourne (regardless of demographics, target market, etc) would be your suspect.
  2. Prospects – The second level is that of people who are the potential buyers of your product or service. They haven’t bought from you yet but they have expressed some form of interest. This interest could be in the form of a phone call inquiry, request a quote. The greatest cost in running a business is that of getting a prospect. Advertising budgets speak for themselves.
  3. Customers – The third level is that of people who buy from you. The critical factor here is the fact that most people are just one time buyers. So, the company has to go out there and find new prospects. Some businesses spend millions on prospecting strategies, which leads to the lead generation. Out of these leads some buy from you and some don’t. If the buyers are just one time buyers then you have to repeat the whole process again and again. This is costly and the main reason why you must focus on taking customers to next level.
  4. Clients – The clients are basically repeat customers. They buy form you more than once. This is important as, they have found your product / service good enough to use again.
  5. Members – Members are the people who feel part of your tribe. They have a sense of ownership with your offerings. Loyalty cards, memberships, etc are all examples of techniques to get to this level. Achieving this level helps in communicating with your market.
  6. Advocate – Advocates are people who, when asked, will recommend your company. Many people take recommendations and a second opinion before they buy a new product. So, the next time someone asks for the best restaurant in town, if you are a restaurant owner and have advocate level clientage, then you can expect some new guests around.
  7. Evangelists – Evangelists are the people who don’t need to be asked. They are walking, talking testimonials of your product / service. They can’t stop talking about you. Nowadays, people hardly believe what you have to say about yourself. They are more interested and trusting about what others have to say about you. So, making evangelists for your business is ever more important today. With the boom of Social Media (facebook, twitter, etc), your customers can communicate better among themselves. A good or bad review tweet can make or break your business in today’s tech world.

Secondly, and more importantly, how do you take a suspect through the levels of the Loyalty ladder to be an evangelist for your business? I believe that the most important factor here is the culture of your business. Your sales team must not think of a sale to be the end. They should think of a sale, not as “closing a deal” but as “opening an opportunity”. You must have great people who live by this culture. It is a great idea to have a rewards program in your business for sales team who move customers up the loyalty ladder. Having different levels of service for different customers is another helpful factor.

In short, it is the systems, technology and right attitude that, when in place, would take your company to new levels of customer relationship. You would see your evangelists list expanding all the time.

About Tony Gattari, Achievers Group

The author is founder and Chief Energy Officer of Achievers group. He is a much in demand passionate professional speaker, business educator, author and corporate, business advisor. He has worked with over 140 businesses around the world.

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