Start Replicating Your Most Profitable Customer Relationships
Start Replicating Your Most Profitable Customer Relationships
A frequent observation I make during sales and marketing assessments is the lack of customer discrimination within organizations. Rather than qualifying customers that fit predetermined profiles, many companies pursue every customer and every deal as if all are a fit. Stated differently, the sales team attempts to pursue the entire target market rather than the addressable market, a subset of customers that fit the client’s unique selling proposition. This approach generally results in reduced margins while sub-optimizing company resources. To drive awareness, companies must conduct a basic analysis of which customer relationships are the most profitable or what some refer to as Dream Clients.
Reviewing the profitability spectrum of different customer relationships helps to identify those that provide maximum value to the organization. Based upon my experience, unprofitable customer relationships begin with a disconnect in fit resulting in mutual disappointment and short-lived customer relationships. It’s frustrating for the sales team but, when reviewing the sales process, the warning signs presented themselves but were dismissed in favor of taking the business. On the other end of the spectrum, profitable customer relationships tend to be win-win in nature. By that I mean the client sees value in the mix of products and services delivered, is willing to engage on a deeper level and takes a long-term view of the relationship. It is these relationships that need to be replicated through a cohesive marketing strategy.
The following outlines a process by which B2B companies can begin to replicate their ability to attract dream clients.
To begin the process, focus on (3) specific actions:
1. Identify those customers you deem as dream clients by establishing some definitional requirements. As an example, a dream client might be characterized by one or all of the following:
a. A client that meets or exceeds a sales or profitability threshold.
b. Engages your company in a broad and deep way.
c. Views your company as an extension of their organization and is willing to invest and push your organization to expand its services/solutions.
d. Fits a positive profile of clients that have grown from small to large accounts.
e. The success criteria between parties is clear from the beginning, with regular team reviews in place to keep the relationship on track to achieve agreed upon goals.
2. Map the buying journey of your dream clients and identify the buyer personas your sales team encounters. Specifically, how did this client come to know you and process map the entirety of the conversation that led to them becoming a client.
Document the common result or business outcomes you’ve been able to deliver to your dream clients.
3. Your organization may create a different definition for dream clients than what I’ve outlined above. It’s not how you define a dream client but that you actually take the time to do it, communicate it to your entire team and commit to qualifying prospects against the profile.
Once completing the (3) steps above, you’re now in a position to build a compelling message and content strategy to promote your products/services to prospective dream clients. When building content, it’s important to prioritize and execute on a few levels. I recommend building content and deploying it in the following fashion:
- Sales Toolbox – Build a content-rich sales toolbox so that the sales team has go-to resources to advance client conversations based upon different buyer personas and different types of deals. An important tool in the sales toolbox is the message the sales team takes into the marketplace. When you consider that prospects are awash in information, it becomes that much more important for your message rises above the noise. A major differentiator is to document the common results and business outcomes you’ve been able to deliver to clients and incorporate them into your message.
- Digital Strategy – Make sure your website has compelling content with the appropriate calls to action. Today’s prospect is a digital consumer and their buying journey is self-directed in nature. The website needs to support the buying journey so that the client is able to conduct their pre-purchase research autonomously before reaching out for a first conversation. Obviously, your website needs to be found and that’s why having a digital strategy is a crucial component in attracting dream clients.
- Content Marketing – Create content to position your business as a thought leader or influencer your industry. Be a resource to customers by creating relevant content in different mediums and publishing it through different channels (i.e., LinkedIn, company website, contributing articles to trade publications, YouTube and other social channels). It is key to prioritize your content development efforts based upon a competitive advantage, specialized knowledge or unique perspective that creates value for your audience. Remember that content marketing is the business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Attracting your dream client really amounts to:
- Building the ideal customer profile and having the discipline to prospect against that profile (and not pursue every deal).
- Optimizing your internal resources to maximize profit potential.
- Developing and deploying a strong message in the marketplace within an overarching content strategy.
There is no shortage of challenges within client organizations and, if you can communicate and demonstrate the ability to solve a mission-critical need, you’re halfway through the selling process. The client’s decision to hire a vendor often hinges upon a company’s unique knowledge and a track record of solving similar challenges for other customers. Once your sales team lands multiple dream clients, they’ll realize it takes no more effort to win these types of accounts than any other. With this new found knowledge, the company is more discerning on which clients to pursue and which to walk away from. Implementing a process to effectively replicate your most profitable relationships creates alignment and focus within the sales team resulting in higher quality conversations and sales pipelines.
 Content Marketing Institute – http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/06/content-marketing-definition/