Five Steps toward improved profitability and customer advocacy.
Securing a customer takes considerable time & resources. It’s Expensive. Yet, we are sometimes too anxious to close the next prospect without first having a “cultivation” plan for our new-found customer. Extending our efforts beyond the sale of the first product or service significantly enhances profit potential. Establishing a Customer Relationship Management plan and getting the entire team on the same page is the first step. The goal is to become an indispensable resource and to attain the pro-active “word-of-mouth” advocacy of each customer—that is where true profitability lives.
Here are five steps you can take to ensure each customer relationship is managed for profitability and advocacy.
- Assign Responsibility for the Relationship. Whether the relationship continues to reside with the originating sales rep, the sales manager or a customer relationship manager, it is critical to assuring someone is held accountable for monitoring and managing the status of the relationship over time. Successful management will involve knowing how the relationship is performing at a point in time. Establishing accountability and processes will enable proactive management to assure each customers profit potential is realized over time. (See #s 4 & 5 below).
- Profile the Customer What are their needs and pain points? How does our current set of products/services align with the customers’ needs and pain points? What is the scope of your current primary contact? Does their sphere of influence extend beyond what is currently purchased from your organization? Is there an opportunity to “sell-in” a fuller set of services.
- Keep your customer engaged. Survey your customers after each sale completed to assess their satisfaction and identify opportunities. This step alone can lead to additional sales. Keep your customer informed about products or services that address their pain points and consider offering ways they can obtain trial of new products or services.
- Establish Customer Relationship Metrics that will indicate your organizations performance with each customer. Consider such indicators as: “Annual Orders” “Quarterly Orders”, “Orders by Product/Service”, Average Size of Order”, ”Lead-Time Required” and “Profitability” as compared to other customers.
- Trend the Customer Relationship Metrics over time. Measuring each quarter and comparing to the performance of other customers will help establish norms and “Same-Store” seasonality factors. Understanding the normal behavior of each customer will enable your organization to pro-actively manage the relationship as shifts occur— rectifying negative trends and leveraging positive trends.
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Pete Sitter is a founding partner of PSM & WONEgroup, an integrated marketing firm. His diverse marketing experience includes work with clients across broad business categories inclusive of: Industrial, Healthcare, Financial & Insurance, Packaged Goods and Retail. He brings an invaluable perspective as a client, ad agency executive, marketing consultant and sales executive. His insightful posts are viewed by an international audience across industry categories. WONEgroup provides high impact, integrated marketing &sales solutions for organizations interested in growing their business.
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