It’s a fact that in many businesses, the only information we think we have about our clients (customers) is their name, address and email/telephone details and the balance outstanding on the account. We don’t see the marketing opportunity that is available to us by looking at the information we have a little differently. What we find out about our current clients could be used to identify better prospects for our businesses.
Sales trends by client: weekly or monthly – can tell you whether you are becoming more or less important to your clients. Are they using your products or services more or less?
A sales breakdown by product/service type by client can tell you even more. Is there an opportunity to cross-sell? We assume our clients/customers know what we supply, but quite often there are additional opportunities for us if we look a little closer.
Changes in timing of payments: A change here can be the first sign of a weakening relationship or a cash flow problem. Both can affect your profitability and your relationship with the client and both require action.
Customer Websites / Brochures/ Annual Reports etc. can help you better understand your clients/customers’ needs, how they see the future and may even provide you with material for discussion at your next meeting. We all prefer to deal with people who we believe understand our business and needs. So time and effort spent doing just that should strengthen your relationship with your customers.
However, the value of the client to the business goes beyond immediate sales. Weigh up some of the following factors, when assessing the value of your clients:
- How frequently do they use your product or service?
- What is the value of the business to the company?
- How loyal are they? Do you get all the business they can possibly give you? Do they give you the run around with every order, looking for discounts or threatening you with your competitors?
- Do they speak highly of you to others, suggesting that you are a good supplier and creating additional business for you?
- Is your product/service important to their long-term success or on the fringe of their business (Their view . . . Not yours!)
- Are they responsive? Do they call you back, even if they are not ready to do business with you at that particular time?
Analyse the information you have on your clients and turn it into knowledge. Look beyond the obvious and you will be better able to focus your business. You will start to identify your ideal client and you will make conscious decisions not to pursue others. You will look beyond immediate sales to longer term profitability and better working relationships.
Establishing a database of marketing information may seem like hard work, but it can be built up over time, whether you’re a one-man business (using client cards) or a large company with the relevant computer facilities.
Successful businesses in the future will know who the profitable clients are as well as the profile of the clients/customers they would prefer to deal with.
This kind of knowledge will provide that marketing edge that will separate us from our competitors.
By: Karren Hodgkins
Managing Director / Brand Strategist