Know your customers better than yoursef

I recently wrapped up a customer engagement that was centered on marketing effectiveness and sales force optimization. Two big words that represent the quality of a company’s message and the successfulness of their sales force.

I began the engagement like any other, by looking at the data. The company I was working with had really good data sets and measurement tools. It was easy to obtain various types of sales close rates, margin averages, product data and profitability metrics. This company managed these metrics and their sales teams well, but still delivered growth rates that were not consistent with their industry or other company’s in their space. This is a solid, respected, well run and long standing company. Why was it slogging along and lagging their industry growth rates?

Contrary to their executive’s thinking, the answer was in the data they DIDN’T have, not in the data they had collected. They spent all of their energy managing the heck out of their internal metrics, but paid little to no attention outward facing and collecting their customer data.

Here’s what I told them:

  • Customer info is GOLD

Use every customer interaction as an opportunity to collect data. Task your sales and marketing teams with systemically collecting the data. Make it part of their jobs and don’t rely on free form or note taking. This data is gold and forms the base of all your sales and marketing strategies (or it should anyways)

  • Manage the data

Don’t use broad categories, catch all segments or, my personal pet peeve, the “unknown category. Finely slice your customer data sets so you can understand in minute detail what each customer means to you and what you mean to them.

  • Intimately know your best customers and treat them that way.

That’s right, I said it. Treat your customers differently. News flash…not all customers are good customers. Instead of using a transaction mentality, use a relationship mentality and use your customer data to improve customer profitability over time. This will help you determine true “core” customers whose business you want to earn and whose loyalty actually pays off in terms of growth.

In short, know your customers better than yourself (or at least as good as) and watch your growth rates consistently improve.