How-To Guide Part 4 – Understand Your Customers and Markets

Welcome to our MWBE How To Guide, in which we give you simple and practical steps for reaching your sales targets. This five-part series covers the fundamentals of sales, and in this fourth part, we discuss understanding your customers and markets. Read the previous article, Improve Talent to Increase Sales, here.

Because the bar for customer service is so low today, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to WOW your clients. Today we will focus on six steps that will let your customers know that you value them and that you are listening to their needs. I am big fan of quick-wins and easy lifts. Use today’s information to achieve both.

Step 1 – Are You Customer-Centric?

The most effective marketing tool past, present and future is to put your customer at the center of everything you do. If you put your customer first, profits will follow. Answer these questions to confirm that your company is customer-centric:

  • Do you have a written policy that outlines your company’s commitment to your customers, and is that policy shared with all members of your organization?
  • Do you partner with your customers to provide solutions to their problems, not just sell them another product?
  • Do you respond quickly to emails and phone calls from your customers? Within 24 hours is ideal. Whether they are calling to place an order, ask a question or lodge a complaint, always respond, and do it quickly.

Step 2 – Profile Profitable Customers and Segments

Spend part of every sales meeting sharing intelligence about your customers among your sales team. If you don’t understand who your customers are or why they are buying your products, you can’t hope to grow your customer base. Your customers may all fit a single demographic profile, or they may be one of several very different profiles who buy from you for very different reasons. The point is, make sure you understand who they are, so that you can attract more like them.

Step 3 – The True Value of Case Studies

The best case studies are those that your customer produces for you. Have two or three of your best customers submit answers to a set of questions that you or someone on your marketing team generate. Once organized in a concise manner, have them posted on your website or otherwise integrated into sales materials.

Step 4 – Conduct a Product Sales Analysis

Which of your product lines are growing and why? Which are declining and why? Answers to these questions will keep your company focused on the products and services that will contribute to profitability.

Step 5 – Consistently Measure Customer Satisfaction

Use customer satisfaction surveys, quarterly or bi-annual calls, and/or annual customer focus groups to regularly measure customer satisfaction so that you can respond before dissatisfaction leads to defection. In Part 5 of our How-To Guide (coming next!), we will focus on measuring and monitoring sales results.

Step 6 – Position and Differentiate your Products

Help your sales team understand how your products stack up to the competition in the industry. Listen to customer feedback to take advantage of marketplace needs that the competition isn’t meeting.

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