the ceo magazine, sales

Let me start by saying that if you are thinking of the “wrong” customers as the ones who are mean, hard to handle, and treat you disrespectfully, then just call them tomorrow and ask them to move on. These aren’t the wrong customers, they are bad customers. What I am talking about here are the wrong customers versus the right customers. The wrong customers are the ones you serve that do not take full advantage of your value proposition and simply disrupt your ability to focus on the right ones.

It is like they walk into Morton’s Steakhouse and order a glass of water, bread, and a side order. Your place is set up for a different type of customer, your service levels and system are ready to take care of bigger better parties, but this customer comes in often and simply asks for bread, water and green beans. They are nice, loyal, and everyone likes them, but what do you do with them? They are just in the wrong restaurant for what they want and it’s a win-win when you find a solution for them that isn’t you - like a diner maybe.  

As the owner of a Travel Management Company, we service companies and a growing number of great companies with travel budgets in the million dollar range. We are challenged when we are called for one-off tickets or when we are asked to service a company with just a few travelers. What we do is strategic and transaction – meaning that we build and manage their T&E procurement system and then manage the trips against them.

What we have chosen to do is work toward finding ten times more customers that we believe are the best for us. Since making this decision 3 years ago, our progress has improved profits, project prioritization, and overall confidence about what we do. When everything you ask for, say, market, do, create, and deliver is focused on the type of customer that makes you the most money and you are most happy to serve, amazing transformations in your business happen. Here are five tricks to move in this direction.

  1. Define who your best customers are and what makes a “best” customer.
  2. Evaluate how many “best” customers you have and set a goal to improve that number.
  3. Set a specific goal around attracting the right customer types and overall sales volume goal.
  4. Focus all your lead generation and sales time and energy on these customer types.
  5. Find ways to reduce the time you spend supporting the wrong type of customers.

We now proactively manage the customers who are the best and supervise those who aren’t. We changed compensation to ensure we incentivized the right types of sales and stopped talking about non “best” customer sales efforts and closures in our sales meetings. We had to help our team prioritize their efforts at every level. Consider finding the right place for the wrong customers and help them move.



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