How to Turn Your Existing Customers into Sellers

Here’s how to get new customers from old ones. Learn how you can turn existing customers into your top sellers with a few key techniques.

Turning existing customers into sellers

The number one aim of any business is to get more customers – because, without customers, you don’t have a business.

However, a big mistake a lot of businesses make is focusing solely on getting new customers. They try everything in their power to generate new leads, whether that’s via social media, SEO, or traditional advertising methods, but they overlook one really important and successful technique.

When treated right, your customers can be your biggest sellers.

Consumers these days aren’t as passive as they used to be, and they’re less and less impressed by traditional marketing methods whipped up by huge marketing departments.

Instead, they want to create a connection with a brand and buy into something authentic, which is why they’re more likely to listen to your other customers than elaborate campaigns you’ve thought up yourself.

Okay, great, you’re thinking. But how can I get my customers to sell my products?

Once you’ve provided an excellent service or product, the key is to keep engaging your customers afterwards and treating them like the loyal following they are. Here are some ways you can do that.

1. Set Up a Referral Campaign

These are all the rage at the moment. You know the deal – if you refer a friend you get a $10 voucher or some other kind of reward.

example of a referral campaign
Dropbox’s referral program is a perfect example that increased new customers by 3900% by using existing ones.

Dropbox’s referral program is one of the most famous examples of why referral campaigns are great for selling more products. After they released their campaign, they skyrocketed from 100,000 registered users to 4 million registered users in the space of 15 months – a 3900% growth if you want the cold, hard percentage.

DID YOU KNOW? 65% of new business comes from referrals.

So why do referral campaigns work?

Well, according to a study by Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know and people are 4 times more likely to buy something when referred by a friend.

Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most successful forms of marketing, because people are more likely to listen to their friends than marketing departments.

2. User-Generated Content

User generated content is content that is created by your customers or users. This could be things like photos on a certain social media hashtag or reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.

Getting your customers to create user-generated content isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard, either.

A lot of brands run competitions where users are asked to submit a photo under a specific hashtag, or share their experience with their product to win something else.

User generated content example
Starbucks' #WhiteCupContest campaign in 2014 is a great example of user-generated content encourages customers to share their designs and increase brand awareness. Image Source

Back in 2014, Starbucks launched their #WhiteCupContest campaign where they asked customers to design their own cup and submit it under the hashtag on social media. The winning design was put onto cups.

As you can see, the great thing about user-generated content is it doesn’t have to cost anything to create. People like to take part in things (call it the competitive nature of humans) and, by adding in a prize, you’re offering an extra incentive.

DID YOU KNOW? 86% of businesses are utilizing user generated content as part of their marketing strategy.

Reviews are also a great way to push your customers into the role of sellers. According to research, 71% of consumers feel more comfortable buying a product after researching user-generated reviews. Again, this ties into the successful nature of word-of-mouth marketing, because people are more likely to listen to what another customer has to say than what a marketing department has neatly put together to sell.

Why does user-generated content work?

It’s common knowledge that people like to try before they buy, but with most things that’s impossible – except, of course, if you’re virtually “trying” it through someone else.

Consumers can get all the information they need from previous buyers in order to make an educated decision to purchase. User-generated content is so successful, in fact, that 93% of consumers find it to be helpful when making a purchasing decision.

3. Going the Extra Mile

Going the extra mile always works. Think about it this way: how many times have you received a surprise gift from a company or a little special touch that made you want to tell your friends, family, and followers about it?

You see, the thing is, we’re more likely to do something for someone if they do something for us first. So, when a brand provides an extra gift or super-duper customer service, we feel like we should go out of our way to let people know about that.

Take Firebox, for example, who added in little “extras” into their orders like small packs of sour candy. It surprised the customers, and they found that it resulted in extra Tweets and Facebook updates.

Why does going the extra mile work?

Aside from the fact that it’s important to always treat your customers like they’re special, going the extra mile works because then your customers will go the extra mile for you.

Inexpensive items that don’t cost you much as a business are novel to the customer and encourage them to mention to experience to other people.

4. The Power of Email Marketing

Email marketing should not be underestimated in business. You have a direct line into the sacred space of your customers’ inboxes, giving you the chance to build rapport and connection.

This is key if you want to turn buyers into sellers, and there are a number of ways you can use your emails to encourage your customers to pimp out your products to friends, family, and followers.

Not only are emails great for loyalty campaigns (in the 2015 State of Marketing study, email loyalty campaigns came out as some of the most successful emails you’ll send, with 72% of marketers rating them as extremely effective), but they also provide you with the chance to turn your customers into sellers.

How do you do that? By adding in valuable and money-saving content that subscribers will want to forward to their friends and family.

Why does email marketing work?

You should be emailing your customers and subscribers regularly anyway, but if you want to kick-start the process of turning your customers into sellers, think of a campaign you can set up that they can share with their friends and family and benefit from.

People actively want to share things their friends and family will like, because it makes them feel good about themselves.

5. Offer a First-Time Buyer Discount

Like with email marketing, offering first-time buyers a discount means customers that have already bought from you will be more likely to share it with their friends and family.

Because you’re offering a one-time discount, customers who have already bought from you can’t access it again. This doesn’t mean they’ll forget about it. In fact, quite the opposite. They’ll want to tell their friends and family about the discount so the people they know and love can snap it up, too.

Why does offering a first-time buyer discount work?

It seems counter-intuitive to offer a first-time buyer discount if you want people who have already bought from you to sell your products, right?

However, like with the email marketing loyalty campaigns, people like to share things with their friends and family that makes them look good. So, if they can bring up a 50% discount you’re offering to new customers at a family barbecue, they will because they become the favorite family member.

Switching Your Customers from Buyers to Sellers

Above, we’ve discussed a number of different ways you can take your customers from buyers to sellers simply by putting the promotional power in their hands.

But before you even start doing that, you have to have your business set up in a way that customers will want to share it and be a part of your success.

These include making sure you:

  1. Have a great product – you’ll struggle to get your customers to sell anything if they’re disappointed with their purchase, or if your product isn’t what they were looking for.
  2. Make people feel a part of something – there’s a reason why Apple is so successful. It creates a community around its products – so much so, in fact, that it is sometimes described as a cult. When people feel like they’re a part of something, they’ll be more likely to promote it to others.
  3. Provide excellent customer service – you want the whole buying experience to be amazing for your customers. Not only will this ensure your customers are likely to come back for more, but it also means they’re more likely to refer you on to a friend.
  4. Be authentic – people buy from brands they trust, which means you need to give your customers an authentic experience that builds connection and respect.

While you might be spending tons of time coming up with new and exciting ways to get more customers, don’t overlook the most valuable tool you already have – people that have already bought from you and can vouch that your product is awesome.

When you put the selling power into the hands of your customers, you’re tapping into the world of word-of-mouth marketing and adapting to the new age of consumer; where they’re active instead of passive receptacles of marketing.

About the author


  • Lizzie Davey is a professional marketing and business writer who helps start-up tech brands and digital marketing companies create content that converts. When she’s not experimenting with the latest lead generation technique or researching new marketing trends, you can find her exploring new cities or attempting to write the next bestseller (usually with a cup of coffee in hand).

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