Specifically, your sales people have a list of customer needs or opportunities that your products and services can meet.Their customers might need access to mobile devices, faster data processing, point of sale information, and so forth. Salespeople use this to quickly determine if a prospect would be interested in their offerings.
Your team can create a similar needs or opportunities assessment. Our research has shown five main types of social capital that are particularly appealing to potential Rock Stars:
1. Expand your affiliation networks.
2. Help you learn and grow.
3. Build your reputation.
4. Establish a higher status.
5. Have a say in your products and services.
By offering to help a potential Rock Star to increase any of these, you help him derive greater value from his peer and other support networks. Helping him increase his reputation, for example, makes him more visible to the rest of his network. Helping him learn important information makes him a person of greater interest to his peer group -- much like your neighbor who knows the best contractors and handymen in the area.
Use this information to create exceptional value for your Rock Star advocates.
Now as you build your relationship with potential Rock Stars, your needs assessment can guide you into having conversations like these with potential Rock Stars:
YOU: "I've noticed that you're active in a number of peer or professional groups. What do you get out of those?"
PRS (POTENTIAL ROCK STAR): "I really enjoy spending time with my professional peers. I like to help them, and they help me."
YOU: "Would you be interested in expanding your peer affiliations?" (#1, above)
There's a high likelihood she'll say yes, making her open to participating in your customer community or advisory board.
YOU: "I notice you do a good deal of blogging, and seem to have great access to information that your peers really value. You seem to like to learn, and to make your 'insider' knowledge available to others." (#2, above)
PRS: "Yes, I love being in-the-know and have cultivated a lot of sources."
YOU: "It might make sense for us to give you an early heads up when we issue new releases."
Chances are excellent he'll say yes to that, and blog or post about it your early releases to his audience.
You get the idea. For PRS's who enjoy building their reputation among their peers, it might make sense to offer to line up interviews with the media or speaking arrangements. For those who want to have a say, you might want to give them access to your product teams. And so forth.
To sum up: to land Rock Star customer advocates, there's no need to rely on legal requirements, monetary or other "market-based" incentives, asking for a favor, or crafting quid pro quo arrangements. These are, at best, boring and can undermine the very credulity of someone you want as a spokesperson and advocate. Offer the something much more exciting and valuable: a stage, a platform, insider access, an audience.Offer to help build their social capital.