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Sales Strategies

Sharon Day is President of Greenville-based Sales Activation Group. They help companies who are frustrated with their current team’s performance and/or turnover, teaching a strategic process for revenue generation and employee development.  For more information call 864.293.6633 or e-mail: sharon@2activatesales.com

Do you know where your best customers are?

At the top of your competitor's ideal prospect list, that's where!
If that makes you nervous that's a good thing.  Your nerves just may drive you to make sure you're doing the right things to keep your customers engaged, happy and loyal.  
Customers leave because 1) a competitor offered them a lower price and what you sell is a commodity so you experience this often; 2) they were unhappy about something and used price as an easy out; 3) they are bluffing and are really just shopping you for price; 4) they had no idea that you considered them to be a valuable part of your business.
If what you sell is viewed to be a commodity, then price will always play a role in the customer's decision-making process. Determine how low you can price your product/service and/or how much volume you need to realize profit.  Don't waver from those numbers.  Have a plan to personally interact with your top customers regularly and meaningfully so they attach value to you, personally.  Be sure they know the full breadth of your offerings and the many ways you can help them.  Hopefully, the relationship you forge will mean something to them and they'll be loyal to you.
Once a customer decides to leave your business it's too late to figure out what went wrong without going into panic mode and sounding desperate to keep them.  If you truly had no idea they would consider leaving, then you haven't spent enough time with them figuring out what's important to them in your relationship. You erred somewhere.  Take responsibility and learn everything you can from the experience.  Then, immediately turn that learning into practice with your other important customers and begin a strategic campaign to a) engage with your top clients and 2) win back the customer that left, if it still makes viable business sense to pursue them.  
Take a look at the purchasing habits of each of your top accounts to determine when their contracts come up for renewal.  Three months prior to that expiration date, contact them for renewal proceedings.  This is where you'll discover their plans and concerns and whether they're considering other offers.  Go into those negotiations with a solid plan for what you're willing to do to retain them as a client.  If a competitor offers a lower price you must know the difference between your offerings, what guarantees you're able to make that they can't, how you've adapted to your client's changing needs, etc.  In other words discover whether the client still places a value on the things you think they do.  Armed with this information, you'll have a better chance of negotiating through a pricing ploy.
Go to great lengths to let your customers know how valuable they are to you.  If you use an internal system of categorizing them as 'key' accounts, for example, let them know they're key to you. Have a plan for what you'll do differently for your top accounts and how often.  In every relationship it's key to let the other party know and witness how much you value them.  It's a new quarter. Suggestion:  have your top officers make a personal connection with your top customers in the next 90 days; and, have them continue that practice each quarter.  
The wolf is always scheming to knock on your customer's door. Your plan and actions will determine whether he stays outside or gets invited inside.

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09/17/2012 9:30AM
Do you know where your best customers are?
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