Sales tips: How to leverage your customers to find new prospects

Today’s guest thought leader is my buddy Lars Nilsson. When working on a sales tips ebook for Radius, I asked him for his best sales tip. He came back with a great tip that I thought was not only very effective, but practical enough for any sales person to execute on right away. I love it. By the way, I chose today’s picture because I am always searching for examples of one-to-one face-to-face sales. Right or wrong, I respect the heck out of people who are making a living selling on the street. We can learn from them…thanks to zoonabar for the selling, customer marketing

And now Lars’ tip:

Sales people should call into their existing customers 3-6 months after they sold them their solution. (Editor note: The idea of calling back into your customers on a regular basis is a best practice in and of itself). When you talk to the customer, ask for three things:

1. How the solution is working for them

The approach is to make them feel loved and at the same time, ask questions around potential upsell opportunities now that they’ve been installed and are hopefully happy with what you sold them.  

2:  Why they ended up buying.

This piece of information is invaluable to the entire sales organization. The sales person should ask the customer exactly what triggered the purchase and when it was that they decided they were going to buy from them. The sales person will end up with crucial silver bullets and stories that can be used in new prospecting cycles.

3. Which peers would be interested in their solution

The sales person should ask their customer for three people he/she knows in similar positions at other companies that could also be interested in his/her solution. After all, if they are receiving value from the solution, then they should be happy to make their colleagues successful as well. Also, the sales person should ask if they can use his/her name in the email to the referral and even copy them on the email. Many customers will offer to actually make the introduction.

With one call, a sales person can accomplish three unbelievable goals and hopefully set in motion tons of new prospecting activities.


About our sales tip contributor:

Lars Nilsson is one of the most respected sales operations & Inside Sales leaders in Silicon Valley. He is currently the VP of Field Operations for Cloudera. Before that he founded SalesSource, a premier sales operations consultancy. He spent 8 years as the VP of Field Operations for ArcSight: An HP Company, where he was responsible for the company’s Inside Sales, Renewals and Sales Operations organizations; Lars’ efforts at ArcSight were instrumental in driving over 20% of company revenues and 70% of new business pipeline revenue. Lars has also served in Sales Executive roles at Riverbed Technology, Rapt Inc., and Portal Software. Lars began his sales and management career at Xerox Corporation where he excelled in the highly touted Xerox Management Training program.
Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic and a co-founder of Topo. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Mike McLaren

    Thanks Craig and Lars. Very practical tips that everyone needs to build into their task managers at the time of sale. I have also found it useful to put customers in touch with other customers that are in similar but non-competitive spaces to discuss how to take the solutions they have to the next level. This can re-enforce their initial purchase and set the stage for the next sale if you can bring additional value through this interaction.