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The Vital Importance of Customer Advocacy

The Vital Importance of Customer Advocacy

Condensed from a Pipeliner SalesChat Interview with Joel Capperella 
Interview by John Golden

Joel Capperella is a leading marketing consultant with 20 years of strategic marketing execution in enterprise software, SaaS and technical professional services. Joel specializes in guiding his clients to obtain bigger pipelines, increased brand and product awareness, faster revenue and empowered transformation. Joel has worked with companies of all sizes, from juggernauts like SAP and Oracle, to small startups with new injections of cash. He is also a contributing writer to Huffington Post, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, HRO Today, and ERE.

Recently Joel was our special guest on Pipeliner SalesChats, and gave us some amazing insight into the right way to bring about customer advocacy.

Q: What would be your explanation of customer advocacy, and why is  it important?

A: When we think of customer advocacy, we oftentimes mistakenly think of it as something that serves us. We want to gain that level of relationship with our customers so, quite candidly, we could use them in the next deal to offer us a testimonial, or get on the phone with one of our prospects.

This self-serving approach usually results in a not-great ability to serve the customer and decreases our ability to tap into our most important customers, help them partner with us and extend our ability to sell our solutions. It needs to be customer-oriented and focused.

Q: If you’re really going to look at being customer-centric from a non-self-serving viewpoint, what are some of the things you’ve got to do?

A: Somewhere along the way I think we’ve lost the concept of being more prescriptive to our customers—in other words trying to understand their business even better than they understand it themselves. They’ve got one set of challenges within their context; we’ve got the good fortune of seeing it across multiple businesses. We see these challenges in different scenarios.  

I think to achieve this level of service-oriented customer advocacy, we have to make it our business to understand those challenges across all of our customers, across the entire industry, in a way that we could identify something that benefited customer A that’s also going to equally benefit customer Z, maybe in a bit of a different nuanced way. That’s our job—to  serve them in a way that’s going to let them tap into the information that’s going to help them do their jobs better.

Q: If you were going to start a customer advocacy campaign right now, how would you recommend going about it?

A: Getting back to the idea of placing their needs central, there are things we can do to begin to create a natural engagement.

For instance, every company that’s been in business for a year or 2 has at least 1 case study. I tell customers to dive into those existing case studies—look beyond the 2-page summary that actually got published. What’s the story behind it? What was behind the metrics? Who were the individual professionals on the customer side that benefited from that good? And what about the customer’s customer—how did they benefit?

You could take that 2-page piece and extend the life of it infinitely by creating additional blog posts, presentations, infographics. Video is so easy these days—get them on Google Hangouts, Skype or Facebook Live and ask them about the nuances behind the metrics.

That’s just 1 single case study. Let’s say you have 5—you could literally jack up your customer advocacy for the entire year based on just those 5.

Q: At Pipeliner we created a model called Network Selling, which is a win-win for both the buyer and seller, so that the buyer becomes the advocate and network multiplier. From your experience, how can salespeople get into that mindset of making it a win-win and almost an enjoyable experience?

A: I learned one of the best lessons of my career working with a life insurance salesman. The best life insurance salespeople have incredible networks. When they close 1 policy, they know there’s 5-10 more sales there, right in that same relationship. Nobody can talk about life insurance easily, so these salespeople serve their clients by helping them talk about what they’ve just done.

They also provide little favors, like if they’re moving they introduce them to their realtor.

Sometimes we forget about those things. The man or woman we’re selling to has a career and career aspirations. Connect with the prospect to help them advance and drive their career forward. Help them be a better manager or leader. It might not be related to our product or service at all, but it helps empower that network relationship. It helps embed us into a place of service.

Q: The period right after the purchase is a time you can really win advocates. What are your thoughts on that?

A: I thoroughly agree. I’ve worked for some really big ERP players. Back in the 00’s we could roll up a bus of 20 professionals to take down a deal—we had an expert on everything. The model doesn’t support that any longer, but the complexity hasn’t gone away. So the salesperson really has a greater burden on their shoulders.

I’ve seen that the best salespeople care intimately about the successful implementation of what they’ve just sold—they don’t just cash their commission check and move onto the next deal. They’re almost a quarterback of serving needs, and being the one “where the buck stops.”

Q: Could you give us some examples of where you’ve seen great customer advocacy programs and what they look like?

A: I have a software company I’m doing business with right now, and they’ve taken on the concept of the advisory panel. They’ve made the advisory panel customer-driven, and the panel brings up the topics they want to discuss.

What’s interesting is that the customers participate not because they are compensated or get preferential treatment—they’re not and they don’t. They feel they’re collaborative partners in what they’re trying to accomplish with the solution.

The same could be said for services. One of my professional services clients profiles the different freelance professionals that they place and that they use in their projects. They raise and elevate them to an all-star status. Each month they’re actually profiling a different professional and a different skillset, on a different job, on a different project.

It’s a good story to tell for talent, because they need more of that to be able to do these different jobs. But it’s also a portfolio of expertise they can then offer their clients: “We’ve done a job like yours, and here’s the story.” So it serves both ends.

Q: With all your experience in working with and talking about customer advocacy with people, what is the biggest mistake you see people make?

A: I think without a doubt the biggest mistake is simply not asking for the referral. Any good salesperson knows that you’ve got to ask for the business, even ask for the close. You should likewise ask for the referral.

Another big part of it is setting expectations, and doing it early in the customer relationship. “We’re going to do this for you, you’re going to love it. It’s going to have a big impact to your business and your careers, and we’re going to want you to talk about it.” You could even make it part of your contractual language.  

Q: What would be the #2 biggest mistake that you see?

A: Video is so easy today. Every salesperson has a video device they’re carrying with them. We should set the expectation with our sales force that every time you have a great conversation with a customer and you’re face to face, ask them to take a selfie video with them. It might seem silly and you might be uncomfortable with it at first. But once you get in the habit of doing it, all of a sudden you have all these video testimonials.

Q: How can people get in contact with you and find out more about customer advocacy?

A: You can find me at My email is, and I’d be happy to chat with anyone further.

Customer Advocacy is greatly enabled by Pipeliner CRM.


How Your Positive Attitude Can Win You Sales

How Your Positive Attitude Can Win You Sales

Have you ever been in a situation where everything about your product and sales process seemed so right; product quality, pricing, sales presentation, buying audience, and suitability of the product to soothe buyer’s pain points and yet deals are not closed? If you have been selling for a while, either as B2B or B2C, this will be very familiar. In business, your attitude determines whether customers buy from you or not. With positive attitude you are able to exude the bright side of life that makes your personality likable and acceptable.

There is no way an optimistic salesman will expect a failure not to talk of accepting it. Even though there may be failed attempt(s), it will be seen in the light of generating useful feedback for improving business sales process or product itself. Interestingly, sales reps with the positive attitude always expect the best to happen and they are constantly winning sales. I keep reminding my sales team, selling is fun and tough. It is tough when you are confronted with an opportunity embedded in rejection, and you fail to notice it. When you have mastered the art of handling sales challenges that may arise in the present and future, you will experience the fun side of selling.

Let me share with you this story of how a great attitude can uncover an opportunity. In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition.

No wonder Keith Harrel said “attitude is everything”. I will give three suggestions on how you can develop positive attitude towards sales;

Believe in your selling ability

Confidence in your selling ability goes a long way in sales success. While it is not the only ingredient to closing deals, it is a vital factor. Regardless of your line of business, you need to successfully sell yourself first. Customers will not believe what you don’t believe. If you don’t have trust in your ability to sell, customers will not even give you the opportunity to waste their valuable time in pitching. So you need to set your thinking right. James Allen in, As a Man Thinketh said, “All a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his thoughts.”

Every customer is important

There is a strong likelihood you treat your customers differently. Consciously or unconsciously, some customers are treated special while others are grouped as not-too-special customers. If you are culpable, have a rethink. Customers are quick to know how important they are in your buyers classifications. While grouping our buyers is great for sales and marketing, sales organization need to see every customer as a VIP, treat them with due attention and respect. If not, your sales reps will be the first to sell you out and start a show off bad attitude to a customer that may turn to great customer in the future.

Considered deals closed before they really are

Over the years, research has shown that what we believe and consistently think about all day can create itself. Be it sales or something else. If you believe a deal is closed before you even get to discuss it with customers, the forces of nature often bring it to past. I have experienced this in my sales business and it worked pretty well. When you visualize a deal as closed you are more likely to act in a frame of mind the will make the sale happen.

Thoughts are very powerful. Whether we believe it or not, they influence our attitude towards prospects and customers. Great product with right attitude will edge you a mile ahead of your competitors. In reality, sales start with you, not your customers.

Four Effective Ways to Gaining Customer Loyalty

Four Effective Ways to Gaining Customer Loyalty

Every business owner knows from a financial perspective that it is much less expensive in retaining your current customers than acquiring new ones. The process of acquiring new customers, demands lots of marketing, selling and an increase in other costs in production and etcetera.

If a business has a strong relationship with its customers then they will continuously come back for more of its service. And business owners know that every happy customer will tell a friend and spread the word about their service. So it’s crucial to give them a reason to.

Here below are four effective ways to gaining customer loyalty:

#1: Find out what your customers’ value most

It’ll be easier to categorize your customers into demographics so you can tailor make or modify your offerings and services to satisfy the unique needs of each customer. For example; in terms of customer service – the older generation would prefer to communicate with a customer agent on the other line, while the younger generation would prefer engaging through email.

While communicating with your customers, ask them about what they value most. Would it be that they value quality or are they just interested in good deals? These are the sort of questions to help you find out what your customers’ value most. Once you have discovered that, place your focus there. You could also create complimentary gifts and give them out alongside the products and services you offer to your customers.

#2: Earn and keep your customers trust

A successful business is well founded on a trust relationship with its customers. The communication you have with your customer has to be clear, concise and importantly, you keeping your promise. This is the easiest way to earning your customers trust.

Introduce customer survey into your business and maintain a feedback database. You can use this to improve your products and services offered to your customers – this is a great way of showing your customers that their concerns are heard.

#3: Exceed your customers’ expectations

When you make a promise to your customers it’s important that you do whatever it takes to keep it. Customers have a lot of expectations when it comes to any business product and service. If the business has made the smallest mistake, the important thing is to quickly resolve it. An apology won’t be enough – offer your customer a refund and also giving them a discount for their next purchase will show them that you value and care for them.

#4: Incentive Offerings

Customers love free gifts and bonuses. If you want to build a strong relationship with your customers then offer them something that will forever remind them of your service – give free body massage if you’re running a Spa Treatment & Massage business or a certain percentage discount for all mother’s day and father’s day season. Be creative and come up with incentives that give your customers a rare experience that they will never forget.


Building a strong and long lasting relationship is essential for customer loyalty. Begin your customers’ journey by discovering what they value most. Provide them with a clear and concise understanding of what you are willing to offer them. Show your customers what they mean to your business and how much you value them. Remember a happy customer always comes back for more of your services and along with them come new ones.

Finding the Win-Win in Client-Centered Selling

Finding the Win-Win in Client-Centered Selling

A wise woman (Jill Konrath) once said, “Nobody cares about your product, service or solution. All they care about is the difference you can make for their organization.” Now that is what I’m talking about! Yet, I am baffled why so many sales reps and sales managers still sell the hard way. Often, it’s because sales managers send mixed messages about quotas. The truth is, when you align your products and services to attain the customers’ goals, the better chance you have of reaching quota.

The key is to make your customer the center of your sales process and show that you are interested in them. Dale Carnegie once said, “You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Turning around your focus toward the customer will strengthen the relationship by establishing a solid foundation of trust and credibility. The more you know about your customer and can talk to them in their language, the greater the benefits for you, your company and your customer.
Putting your customer at the center of your sales process is beneficial in four key ways:

  1. You can align your products and services to their business goals and MBOs ensuring what you sell is a priority to your customer
  2. You can be viewed as a trusted advisor and have people come to you for expertise, since many times you know more about different lines of business than customers do internally
  3. You can increase your credibility by showing your customer that you care about helping them achieve their goals
  4. You can provoke and challenge early to begin to align yourself with the customer’s goals and strategies

The greater the trust they have in you, the more information they will share. This knowledge will help you identify the customer’s priorities and future opportunities to continuously help them, because you’re always ensuring your products and services are aligned with their desired goals.

In today’s selling environment, the key is this: Placing your customer at the center of your sales process is a win-win. If you truly understand what they are trying to accomplish, appreciate their time lines, reduce or eliminate risk of implementation, and help them to win both personally and professionally, you’ll not only help the client succeed, you’ll reach or exceed your quota at the same time. Then, everybody wins.

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