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How to Leverage Your User Group to Differentiate Your Company in the Sales Process

Written by Julie Dietz on May 30, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Your user group is a product feature that differentiates your company during sales.

Sales are competitive. Even companies with quality products that get great results must fight to win new customers because there are always half a dozen other options that customers are comparing to yours.

Every good sales professional knows that. They know that while potential buyers are talking to your company, they’re also talking to your competitors, weighing cost, functionality, support, and features that will help them achieve their goals.

Your company – and your sales team – need a way to break through the noise.

User groups, which bring customers together to learn and discuss best practices for using your product, can help. User group conversations will differentiate your company from others, increasing the chance to close more deals. The following tips will help you leverage your user group to highlight your company and its product’s strengths during sales.

1. Position Your User Group as a Feature

Don’t pitch your user group as a side benefit. Position it as a feature that improves customer satisfaction and makes your product more valuable. Customers who choose your solution get this premium feature for little to no additional cost.

Explain how your user group helps customers learn from their peers and access product documentation on their own time to make learning your product easier. This takes away some of the trepidation that comes from large or complicated purchases, making it easier for prospects to make a commitment.

2. Show Social Proof

User groups naturally collect stories of how customers are using product and the results they’re achieving. Share the most impactful of these success stories with your prospects (get permission from customers first) so buyers know that your company isn’t the only one raving about its products. Your customers are thrilled, too.

If you don’t want to share individual success stories informally or in case study form, you can also give prospects access to your user group. For instance, by granting either full or limited access to your user group’s online community, potential buyers can see how customers are using, talking about, and succeeding with your products for themselves.

3. Demonstrate Customer Focus

Business customers and software buyers don’t just want to make a purchase. They want to start a relationship with a company that values their needs and is there to support them. User groups clearly demonstrate these values within your company. No business creates a group for customers if they don’t value their customers.

Take things to the next level by encouraging your staff to participate in the user community, especially in the online customer community, which is easily accessible. Your staff can answer questions, gather product suggestions for development, and build relationships with customers over time.

Expert Tip: Customers love to see that your company takes product suggestions seriously. When multiple user group members suggest product enhancements, evaluate them and put them in your development pipeline. Prospects will love that you’re improving your product based on what they need, not just what company executives think is best.

4. Minimize Risk with Always-On Support

User groups that revolve around an online customer community are always available, even outside of business hours when your company’s support representatives aren’t on duty. Any time your customers need help they can take advantage of peer-to-peer support by asking questions in discussion forums, browsing past conversations, or reviewing product documents in the online community.

The constant availability of support makes purchasing your product less risky, especially for customers who regularly work outside of traditional office hours. Someone or something is always available to help, which sets your company apart from competitors that only offer nine-to-five support.

5. Highlight Innovative Product Uses

Your user group members will probably surprise you with the different ways they leverage your product. Often, they’ll come up with innovate uses that you never considered.

Point out these customer-generated ways to use your product during the sales process to highlight your product’s flexibility. That will help prospective customer see that they can tweak your product to fit their unique needs. One of the new use cases may also resonate directly resonate with your prospect, giving your business a boost that competitors don’t have.

User Groups Grow with Your Company and Its Product

Your user group’s biggest advantage is its adaptability. As the needs of your customers change, so will their use of your products and their conversations in your user community. If you watch for those changes and develop your product to fit new market needs, your user group will help ensure that your sales team always has a valuable—and distinctive—product to pitch.

Original research explains the impact online communities have on businesses.

Topics: B2B Communities, User Group Communities, Customer Support, Customer Success, Online Community

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