The evangelist equation: How to get your customers to fill your sales funnel for you

My hammock gave out in the spring of 2010. Squirrels had ravaged it while preparing nests for the previous winter. I’ve been meaning to replace that hammock but last summer was busy and wet (not conducive to “hammocking”). So yesterday I went outside and realized that the weather was perfect but I remained hammockless.

I posted on Facebook: “It’s beer-and-hammock weather. Sadly, I’m out of beer and my hammock was eaten by squirrels.

Seconds later, a friend messaged me and told me that she had just bought a hammock for her husband. She briefly described it and sent me a link to the seller’s website. Within minutes of posting my sad status, the sale was closed. I’ll be picking up a hammock from this importer this weekend!

SALES FUNNEL EVANGELIST IN ACTION

My friend was first a hammock Customer. She had purchased the hammock, was happy with the quality and price and service. Then, she became an Evangelist by sharing her success story with me. I will (shortly) become a Customer by purchasing a hammock.

This hammock importer’s hammocks have now become more profitable because she didn’t have to spend time and effort and money marketing and selling to me. I’m already in her sales funnel and I’m basically sold; it’s just a transactional issue at this point. My friend’s advice was enough to compel me toward a buying action.

Turning your Customers into Evangelists is critical for your business. Rather than expend the costly effort of marketing and selling to every single Customer, you can turn your Customers into an army of marketers and sellers who are working on your behalf.

Here’s how to do that:

THE EVANGELIST EQUATION

The right combination of elements need to be present in order for a Customer to become an Evangelist… and not just an Evangelist but an effective one that actually closes the deal for you. Those elements come together in the following equation:

Effective Evangelism = Trust + Satisfaction + Shareability

Where Satisfaction = Problem Solved + Perceived Value + Satisfaction with Service
And Shareability = Ease of Sharing + Context

Here’s what those equation components mean:

  • Trust: Trust needs to be established between the Evangelist and the prospective Customer. In order for the prospective Customer to act on the advice of the Evangelist, there needs to be a foundation of agreement between the two. In my situation, I know my friend is a very careful shopper who thoroughly researches everything before she buys.
  • Satisfaction: Satisfaction is actually made up of three components: (1) the problem was solved; (2) a sense of value was perceived between the price of the product and the degree to which it solved the problem; (3) a sense of satisfaction with the service received during the process.
  • Shareability: Shareability is made up of two components: (1) how easy it is to talk about your product or service in relation to the problem; (2) the context in which an Evangelist has an opportunity to share.

When all of those components are present, an Evangelist can effectively talk about your product or service with their friends and their friends will act on the Evangelist’s advice.

If any components are missing, your Evangelists might still share but the likelihood of success diminishes with each missing component. For example, a recommendation on Twitter about a great soup restaurant is still Evangelism but might not result in any new Customers if there is no trust between the tweeter and their followers or if there was no context for the recommendation.

TAKE CONTROL OF EVANGELISTS IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

The truth is, you can’t control every part of the equation. You have little influence over the trust established between an Evangelist and their network. And, you have little influence over the context in which your Evangelist shares.

But, you do have a lot of influence over the other parts of the equation — the components that make up Satisfaction (Problem Solved, Perceived Value, and Satisfaction with Service), as well as one of the components that make up Shareability (Ease of Sharing).

Creating an army of Evangelists to help you market and sell your business is done by looking at each of the following components and improving/increasing each component:

  • Solving problems: Your product or service solves a problem or fulfills a need, even if you don’t think it does. Figure out what the problem or need is and make it clearer in your marketing.
  • Providing value: Customers who feel that they got ripped off will never return. Customers who feel that they got exactly what they paid for might return or they might not return. But Customers who feel that they got more than they paid for will be far more likely to buy again and turn into Evangelists.
  • Satisfying with service: Like the above component, Customers who feel that they received poor service will never return. Customers who feel like they received “normal” service may or may not return. But Customers who were surprised at how good the service was will buy again and turn into Evangelists.
  • Making your product or service easy to explain: Use clear, compelling, picture-words in your marketing, and use the same messages over and over. Make your business name and your web domain easy to talk about and share. Spread your presence around the web (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) so that people can share you far more easily.

The equation to turn your Customers into Evangelists is pretty simple. And it is made up of several components, many of which you have a considerable amount of influence over. The time and energy you invest into these components will be an investment into creating Evangelists who will fill your sales funnel for you.

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