Understanding your customer is important to your company’s success. Know what makes them tick and do your research when needed. Looking after your customer and knowing how to best service their needs will help ensure they will be great for your business.
Dynamic Business asked experts how to know whether a client will be a a boon or a burden to your business.
Sara Berry, Managing Director, Marketing Sense:
How can you make sure you are attracting the right client? The quick answer is by having a very specific idea who your ideal client is (remember not everyone is your client). You need to really understand your customer – what makes them tick, you really need to ‘get’ them – this will of course also help you to understand who your customer is NOT. Know your customer, know your strengths (your superpower), know what your customers value and know your style and approach. You must also have a very clear sales process in place that ensures the wrong clients don’t slip through the net; the best way to do this is through a discovery call so you can determine if the prospect is the right fit for your business.
Fleur Brown, Founder & CEO Launch Group, Executive Producer Entrepreneurs TV Show with Sky Business:
As an SME, resourcing can be tight. The choices you make about where to build your customer relationships can help scale or sink your business not only financially but also energetically. Focusing on which customers deliver profit to your bottom line is the obvious metric – and any good accounting dashboard can tell you that. What is less obvious is whether that customer or category of customer is the right cultural fit for you and your team. Ask questions such as do you understand that category of customer? Learning on the job can be costly, time-intensive and draining – you may be more efficient focusing on a strong niche. Do your staff team enjoy working with those customers? An unhappy client-staff fit can be a severe blow to staff morale, and can also lose you staff and customers. Are you an obvious choice for this type of customer? Without the right kind of credibility in the space, you can waste a lot of time and resource pitching and marketing your services.
Emma Lo Russo, CEO, Digivizer:
Customer acquisition is of course the lifeblood of any organisation, alongside retention and nurture. That doesn’t stop some customers being burdens (although never start a relationship with a new customer thinking that way). What helps, though, is analysing companies before they become customers – perhaps easier for B2B engagements, but still relevant for B2C, and definitely relevant to organisations of any size. Use social and digital analytics as part of your customer acquisition process, to fill the top of your sales funnel, and you’ll also gain insights into their backgrounds, motivations, incentives, needs and even style of doing business. You can gain insights into the individuals who are important and influential at the customer. You can then win and engage them on the basis of data and insights. They might still become a burden, but you will start the relationship with stronger foundations. At which point, far fewer customers will become burdens, and those that do stand more chance of being saved.
Peter Gardiner, Executive Managing Partner, Findex:
Successful business arrangements often hinge on the understanding you have of one another. There are three key questions you should answer about your prospective client, prior to engaging in a business relationship, that can help inform how successful the future will be.
- How did it begin?
The context around how initial conversations begin with a potential client can have a big impact on expectations from both perspectives. Its commonplace that an initial misunderstanding can balloon into a larger problem with long-term impacts. Take a step back and assess how the initial contact occurred and how that might impact perceived outcomes.
- Are you on the same page?
When you engage with a new client, it’s vital you have a deep understanding of their operations, their objectives and their vision. Successful business relationships can often be measured by their longevity – ensuring both sides understand that you are embarking on a journey together, with the best interests of both sides firmly in mind is really important. Oftentimes, prospective clients that demonstrate an inability to think long term will present far greater challenge to keep satisfied.
- Can you deliver?
Just because a deal could be hugely profitable for your business doesn’t mean it will be good for your business. As you look to bring on board new clients, your business will be judged on its most recent successes, not your balance sheet so ensure you are the best placed to help them achieve their goals. Financial success is a by-product of good work and long-term business relationships.
Patrick Coghlan, Managing Director, CreditorWatch:
Performing due diligence on a potential customer is the best way to determine if you want to have a business relationship with them. Reviewing their credit score and credit report is a great start. Look out for red flags such as payment defaults, debt collection actions, court actions and insolvencies as these could all suggest payment patterns which can negatively affect your cash flow and credit management. If you are unsure whether to accept or decline a customer, you could place them on cash on delivery (COD) payment terms for an initial 6-12 months. This is an opportunity to trial their payment habits and protect your business from risk. With CreditorWatch, you can also set up monitoring and alerts to ensure that you never miss important changes in regards to that customer. Doing everything you can to know your customer is essential for managing risk.
Alan Manly, CEO, Group Colleges Australia
Mutual advantage is a great test as to whether a customer is for you or equally, if your company is a good fit for a potential customer. Ask yourself, if you were the customer would you buy your service or product from your company? If there is any doubt be warned, listen to your sixth sense. Seek out a customer that you can look squarely in the eye and say ‘I know that we have a good deal for you!’ Then prove that your proposal is sound because the two organisations are a natural fit for the proposed task. The confidence to be assertive in sales comes when you have done your homework and know that your proposition will yield mutual benefit to your customer and you.