I have the same problem, less definition in the back of my hair, and for me, the issue is definitely product application. I just can't get good saturation of product to the back of my head.
I've gotten better at it, but my method sounds like the method you don't like: I put my product in upside down. Soaking wet hair, flipped head upside down, gently scrunching in the product from the bottom up to the scalp/roots. (Well, I start out gentle; I get more agressive as the product gets saturated into my hair.) After I get good saturation upside down, I flip over, and scrunch in at the back, the sides, and the crown. I do the exact same thing all over again (upside down, flip over and do the back, sides and crown) with my hard hold gel, then when my hair is all clumpy from all that product, I super soak very, very gently with a few palmfuls of cool water, and then plop very gently with a floursack towel.
Since I started doing the back, sides and crown like this, and following with the super soak, I've noticed I get less frizz and more definition in the back (Well, all over, really). I used to get next to no definition in the back, but nice def in the front. Now I get really nice Shirley Temple curls all over. LOL
But: I don't rake product in my hair at all
. I think it ruins my curl pattern. And frizzes my hair. I don't believe in raking. So that's a complete opposite philosophy.