Champion Engagement Model: Best practices for identifying your customer champion

Learn how to spot your customer champion and discover some best practices on how to enhance your customer champion engagement.
April 24, 2023
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More resources:

  1. Watch customer onboarding experts share their insights in Propel23
  2. Learn how to qualify the right customer champion and how to leverage them. 
  3. Discover how to scale your business without compromising on customer experience.
  4. Explore how to build trust with customers during the onboarding phase

At Propel23, Jasmine Reynolds, senior customer success manager at UserGems, talks about identifying your champion early on in the process and how to engage with them effectively.

In this session, Jasmine shared her insights on:

  1. Early champion identification
  2. Engagement best practices
  3. Building a community for customer champions to advocate your product
  4. Establishing long-term relationships with your clients

Here are some of the key takeaways from Jasmine’s session.

How to spot my customer champion?

A customer champion is someone in the customer’s organization who advocates for your product/service. They play a major role in vouching for your product, whichever company they visit, adding credibility to your sales pitches. Here are some tips on how to spot your customer champion.

Who is advocating for your product/service?  You can identify your champion during the sales or customer onboarding process. This person tries hard to get the contract signed and sees the value of the product.

Who has been most successful with your product/service? You can identify this person during the ramping and success planning processes. This would be a person who has had the ‘Aha’ moment with your product.

Pay attention to users who provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Form a strong relationship with people who connect with you multiple times daily and are always ready to jump on a quick session to walk through some topics. Encourage the communication because most of the time, customers don’t prefer engaging in communication too often.

Monitor usage and adoption metrics to identify power users.

Identify the people who are using your product every day. These power users share resources with others if they find your product effective.

Importance of early identification of customer champions

Customers with a positive emotional brand connection are less likely to churn

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, customers who have a positive emotional connection with a brand are more than twice as valuable as a customer who is simply just satisfied. These emotionally connected customers are also less likely to churn. Think more person-to-person rather than business-to-business.

Increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%

A study by Bain and Company found that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. Identifying user champions early and keeping them engaged can help improve your customer retention rates. 

80% of the company’s future revenue comes from just 20% of its existing customers

According to research by Gartner, 80% of your company's future revenue comes from just 20% of its existing customers. Identifying and engaging with these top customers, who are often user champions, can be critical in reducing churn and increasing revenue. 

Every lead source gets harder as you grow. But tracking your champion and encouraging champion engagement grows naturally with your business. To increase revenue in a repeatable way, ask these questions: 

  1. How can your company increase the number of product users? 
  2. How can you turn your product users into product champions? 
  3. What is a scalable method of tracking champions across job movements? 

The setup: Milestones that showcase that you are doing a good job

  1. Increased user engagement
  2. Improved customer satisfaction
  3. Higher retention rates
  4. Increased brand advocacy

Customer champion engagement best practices

Your customer champion is someone that has used your product and loved it. Their recommendation adds more credibility to your product. This is why it is crucial to motivate your champions and keep them engaged and satisfied. 

Here are some best practices to boost your customer champion engagement.

A ‘Champion Corner’ - a dedicated community for your customer champions

If you have a community you use, it's beneficial to create a space where your champion can share their expertise, tips, insights, and more. In such a community, hearing advice from a seasoned user carries more weight than listening to a salesperson.

Advocacy program (Voice)

Promote content by encouraging your champion to post on their social platforms such as LinkedIn and actively engage with their audience. Be sure to like and participate in the conversation on their post, as their audience is your target audience. The marketing team and your champion need to work together closely and build a strong relationship. 

Product VOC (Buy-in)

When customers become advocates and collaborate with the product team by providing feedback and testing new features in beta, they will feel valued and respected. This can make them feel even more involved and connected, especially if their suggestions are implemented or a new product emerges from their feedback.


Your customers serve as role models both within and outside their company. They should showcase consistent success, attract more users, and explore untapped potential in other departments. These actions will greatly contribute to motivating their colleagues within the company.

You could explore various ways of motivating your customers to use your product. Sending swag, creating a LinkedIn badge, inviting them to collaborate in your webinar, or engaging with their social media posts and stories through likes and comments are effective ways to motivate your customers.

Champion university

Developing a user champion ‘university’ is a great way to empower your customers and create a community of customer advocates who can help spread the word about your product or service. 

Here are two tips on developing a user champion university:

  • Offer exclusive training and certification programs. Create a structured training program that enables your users to become experts on your product or service. Offer certificates that validate their knowledge and expertise and give them access to exclusive content and events.
  • Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing. Create a platform where users can collaborate and share their knowledge and experience. Encourage them to participate in forums, online communities, and events to learn from each other and exchange best practices. 

Salesforce, Hubspot, and Hootsuite are some of the best examples of companies that created rich online communities and academies with training resources for their users. It encourages the customers to get into the weeds and invest in their product or service. 

A forever customer

Once you have successfully closed a deal, you have established a relationship that should be maintained. The likelihood of selling to an existing customer is much higher, ranging from 60% to 70%, compared to selling to a new prospect, which only has a 5% to 20% probability. Acquiring a new customer costs significantly more, around six to seven times, than retaining an existing customer.

Champion lifetime value

Champion lifetime value refers to the estimated dollar value of individuals who have moved on to new jobs or businesses that fit your ideal customer profile. This includes your CRM’s primary contacts, decision makers, admin users, and end users. 

By combining this with customer lifetime value, your business profitability can experience a substantial boost. The focus here is not just on business connections but on nurturing human-to-human relationships.

Developing strong connections with people can bring about significant changes in your life. Dive deeper into these relationships with individuals, as they can bring in revenue far beyond their initial involvement in the purchasing decision. When they transition to a new role or organization, even if they are not the decision maker, they can still influence and refer to others.

How to implement champion lifetime value?

  1. Identify your most valuable contacts. Champion lifetime value highlights the value of individual users and your contact list. Your champions may include primary contacts, decision-makers, power users, and users of your product.
    These people are familiar with the value you bring to the table and are primed to influence the purchase decisions within their companies. They are already comfortable with you and your product, so they would not want to learn something new unless they have to.
  2. Develop a tracking process. Whether you handle things manually or use automation, it's crucial to keep track of your champion's job changes. This way, you'll stay fresh in their memory when they start a new position. 
    When someone lands a new job with a fresh budget, they usually spend most of it within the first 100 days. So if you only find out about their job change six months down the line, they might not have any budget left for you, even if they liked your work. That's why it's vital to be proactive, get ahead of the situation, and start the conversation early.
  3. Set up a process for contacting your customer champions. While it's possible that the champion may feel strongly enough about your product or you, they may need a little help and a push from your marketing or sales outreach.
    Even if your champion cannot make the purchasing decision, they can be crucial in helping your revenue team push past the gatekeepers or reach the right decision-makers.
  4. Keep track of the dollar value these individual users contribute to your revenue members. Have they been influencing purchases and bringing in new customers since changing jobs? Did they get promoted within their company? Are they also driving upsells or cross-sells? How often has your champion influenced a product purchase at their new company? By keeping track of their job movements, you'll get a better idea of their overall value as your champion over time. 

References used by Jasmine Reynolds:

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Madhushree Menon
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Madhushree Menon is a content marketer at Rocketlane. She mainly focuses on SEO blogs, but also dabbles in other forms of content. A true Hufflepuff at heart, she loves to binge-watch anime, explore new cuisines, and learn new languages.

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