Growing your business with your best customers

Growing your business with your best customers

In a tough market your biggest and most profitable customers are like gold dust. They are also your competitor’s key prospects!

Some key points to remember, when managing and developing these customers:

  1. Work like you were on their payroll not yours If you are doing your job 100% then your customers should feel like you are representing their interests more than your own company’s (in reality you are representing both equally).
  2. Know about your customers’ customers How can you be a real business partner if you don’t know about the business they are in? Learn about their competitors and other suppliers. Read the press. Go to the websites. Study the blogs. Look at the annual customers and directors’ reports. Become an expert in your customers’ business and you will often find you know more than most of their employees!
  3. Innovate and be seen to contribute to competitive advantage It is important to be seen as a business which moves ahead and makes progress – even if those innovations are not directly relevant to each customer. If their strategy is low price/high volume then help them to save cost. If they are a premium price supplier help them to justify that position by better quality. If they are niche strategists help them to seem different.
  4. The more business they give you the more you give them in return The worst crime is to take them and their business for granted. Give them more service, more value added and maybe even better prices – before they ask for them all. Even loyal customers can be very fickle and emotionally swayed. Make sure they not only feel good but also can justify continuing to give you their business – they may be challenged by procurement, top management or even by your competitors.
  5. Maximum friends – minimum enemies! Of course it’s a lot better if everyone likes you as well as knows you – and that means everyone you come in contact with regardless of their level or apparent importance. Not everyone can love everyone else in any walk of life but always try to adapt your behavior to the personality type you are dealing with. Never allow any disagreement or conflict to remain open. Do you know why you need everyone to feel positive about you? Friends help you solve problems. Enemies love to spread the word about them!
  6. Keep in touch with organizational changes People come and go and get reorganized. Strategies and priorities change. Change is a threat to you if you are a current supplier – so stay close to all your client contacts so that you learn about it fast. Change is an opportunity for a new supplier – so make sure that you behave like a new supplier even if you are the old one!
  7. Build your contact base Your success will usually depend on a wide range of people – users, authorizers, influencers, budget holders, procurement, consultants etc. How many of them do you know personally? How many do you keep in regular touch with? Every gap in your contact base is a threat to you and an opportunity for someone else.

Keep developing Aim not just to manage the business, but to build it. Develop your business by helping your customer to develop theirs!

The Boardroom Assessment Centre specialize in providing local businesses with world-class strategic sales consultancy, including sales assessment, sales training, leadership coaching, strategic consultancy, executive sales recruitment and executive outplacement.

Back to articles

This article has the following tags: