How To Turn Your Affiliates Into Your Best Customers

Posted on September 22, 2000

by Thom Schlip

Many Affiliate Program Managers view their affiliates as salespeople and that's good. But what happens when your affiliates are "parked"? Parked meaning they don't produce revenue?

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The first thing you need to evaluate and accept is the fact that many affiliates expect sales to come to them. Placing a simple link is sometimes all they will do. What's the problem? The answer to this question lies in the basic assumption of affiliates, that they are salespeople who will SELL your products and services, but, guess what? Over 90% of salespeople fail in the first year. Why is that? Because people don't like to sell!! The key here is to accept the fact that people don't like to sell and then figure out what they are willing to do.

Here's the secret, People don't like to sell, they like to save!! They like to look good to their friends and family. How you integrate this into your affiliate model with under performing affiliates will determine the success of your affiliate program! First, ask yourself, who are my affiliates and why did they join my program? Usually people join the affiliate programs that match their interests, right? We already know that most affiliates are not going to do the things that they need to do to become successful, but they still apply for loans, don't they? Auto loans, Mortgages, Credit Cards so, in the offline world what would you call a person who's interested in your products that also happen to be standing at your counter? A qualified buyer, right?

Think about it, the cost of acquiring new customers can be as high as $170 per new customer. If you have hundreds or thousands of potential qualified buyers and you're not doing anything to turn them and their friends into customers your really throwing away thousands of dollars and saying, I don't like the easy sales, I like rejection. You've got the right products (your products) in front of the right people (qualified buyers) and remember, the most difficult and expensive sale you will ever make with a customer is the first one.

Do the math; if you only turn 100 of the affiliates into buyers you've eliminated 3 problems for you and helped a consumer (affiliate) save money.

1) You've made the most difficult sale you'll ever make to a new customer and did it in a fraction of the time!

2) If the lifetime value of a customer for your business is $1,000, you've now generated a lifetime revenue of $100,000 from these affiliates/customers.

3) We all like referrals. How many will you get and how much is that worth over time? If a happy customer tells three of his friends, and if only 50% are happy with their experience dealing with you that is another 150 new qualified buyers! Based on the same numbers that could be another $150,000 in lifetime revenue. Keep running the numbers!!

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The significant benefit of this virtual sales force is that it's compensated when results are produced. This is the best business model available today.

Now, how do you explode this even further? First, Set up a buyer's network and give them a set percentage discount for being a member of your network. What they are really doing is becoming an affiliate and buying from themselves. Remember, people don't like to sell they like to save!

Second, develop a "Share it with your neighbor" or "Friends program" where you provide a coupon for your network (via email) that they can use or that they can pass onto some of their friends. This is the crucial part. People like to feel good about helping others, make this easy for them with online coupons that their friends can redeem and take advantage of the savings. Let your affiliates/customers know that they can pass this coupon along to anyone they know for use before the coupon expires. Do this a few times and your sales will skyrocket!

Why? The new affiliate/customers feel good about letting their friends in on a good deal and their friends are thankful and appreciate someone looking out for them. What they've just done is sold for you without having to sell.

Affiliate programs are so much more than a system to leverage people to sell your products. Properly positioned and with the acceptance that people don't like to sell, they like to save, can transform your business into a massive order taking machine, instantly!

Remember, It's easier to pick the cherries that have fallen to the ground than climb the tree to pick the ones on top.

Thom Schlip,
PlugInGo Affiliate Network


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