Every business needs customers - that's obvious. You may have lots of them, and always be searching for more. You may have repeat customers, or you may not. Your customers may be massive corporations or individuals. It really doesn't matter how big or small, or how often they return to you, you cannot afford them to be strangers to you. How well you know your Customers has a direct impact on your ability to unlock Perfect Prices and develop your most profitable business.
But what do I mean by 'Knowing your customers really well'? You may be think that you already do. I did. I thought my sales team and account managers knew our customers well enough. After all we were on first name terms and we spoke to them regularly. But then I realised that while personal connections are important, especially when you have repeat customers, that wasn't enough. In any case we had so many customers that we couldn't have personal connections with all of them.
So I will let you into a secret. Well not such a secret really. Because it's true with just about every company that I have worked with over the last number of years. When I ask about customers I am usually told a few pieces of information. The company names, the products they buy (or rent) and how much they spend. The customers are generally handled by a sales force that is deployed based upon the same company names, the products they buy and how much they spend. When I looked at the personal relationships that existed; too often they're with procurement and not actual users. Just like other company's mine didn't focus upon our real Customers well enough. What we actually needed to know was why they are our customer, what they want to achieve, why that's important to them and how valuable it is to them. Without this we'd never be able to sell value and get to Perfect Prices and the profits they deliver.
Now I bet you are thinking that its not possible to know your customers to that level. To know what they want to do, why that's important and how valuable it is to them. Well its is possible. It's a marketing technique which has developed over the last decade and its all about developing Personas*. Personas are not real people (though they are often devised with particular people in mind). You create Personas to describe those that have a need for your services and recognise that they don't want to rent something just because they can. They want to do achieve something that's valuable to them in their business or personal life. Your aim is to understand what they want to do, and how valuable it is to them. This analysis needs to be done methodically and carefully. When its complete you may find that you actually have between 5 to 15 Personas which describe all of your customers. You'll find that large Accounts have, within them, multiple different Personas. This is your starting point for a whole new way of Marketing and Selling and achieving perfect prices.
*For a great introduction to Personas try this blog post