It is crucial to respond to your customers and where their needs are at this point in time. This might sound too obvious to repeat, but, still, many business owners compare their companies against what their competitors are attempting to offer, rather than aligning with their customers' goals. Customer metrics can all too easily become an abstract calculation, but without a deeper understanding of what drives their behaviour, it is difficult to know how best to serve them personally.
Customers who feel a personal connection to your business spend more, make more return purchases and give recommendations to their friends. In real-world terms this entails offering a product or service that adds value to your client’s businesses by either boosting productivity or saving them money, and by making the day to day jobs of the people you deal with at these companies easier in some way. So how best to understand them?
A Deeper Understanding of Customers
With online commerce, marketing through websites and social media and all manner of data-gathering systems, it is possible to hold a huge amount of information on customers and potential customers. These metrics are valuable, but intelligent analysis is needed to form a picture of the customers behind the data. These people aren’t just concerned with end-of-year profits and ROI – for most people below director-level these are just figures on a graph – but with how a product helps them do their job with less stress and hassle. Data analysis should be combined with other, more experienced-centred approaches, to form richer profiles
The Personal Approach
Behind every buyer persona are real people. Demographics are abstractions. If potential customers are confronted with marketing based on age, region or occupation, they may see it as impersonal. This doesn’t mean you should discount demographic data, but behavioural cues can be more informative about a person’s likely purchasing behaviour. Analytics from website usage can be very detailed. Tracing individual browsing interactions, for example, can provide insights into customer motivations, sales-conversion points (and failures), and where customers face work-related difficulties that your business can solve.
You should also look beyond the data. Consider your business offering from the customer's point of view. Sometimes these perspectives are overlooked. So put yourself in their shoes: did you find the website uninformative or boring? Were the product instructions comprehensible? Did you have to wait a long time on the phone? Did the receptionist seem harassed? These are only a few examples, and may not apply, but the point is to take the customer's perspective in every nuts-and-bolts initiative you put in place to grow your business.
How to Gain Customer Insights
Ask customers themselves what they think using surveys or feedback forms. If you want productive feedback, it is important to listen and be seen to be listening rather than influencing. Questions should be neutral, not leading. More importantly, you should follow-up on all leads, enquiries and points of contact from prospects. Respond to negative perceptions and make changes where necessary.
If your company has customer service reps or others who deal face-to-face (or keyboard-to-keyboard) with prospects, ask them for their experiences. What patterns of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction do they encounter?
Despite the cautions, data is always valuable. Just make sure it is rigorous, individualised and well analysed. Used in combination with personal communications, data can help to fill out a rich customer profile you can use to be more effective at sales.
Meeting Customer Goals
Ask yourself, what are prospective customers trying to achieve? Use your various sources of input to determine what motivates them. Are they trying to solve a problem, shave costs, or impress their line manager at their next one-to-one? What are their price parameters for your service? Is personal contact important to them? How much do they care about after-sales service?
The answers you receive will depend very much on the nature of your business, but you must be prepared to act on them. Consider how customer goals align with the products and services that you offer. Rich data can help you here.
Use analytics tools to trace customer interactions through your website, social media accounts, and marketing materials, for example. It may be particularly useful to think through the failed customer journeys. If site visitors showed an interest in your product but then failed to follow through, why was that? What was the point of failure?
Consider also the importance of nurturing lead relationships. Stay in contact with previous leads with communications based on the rich individual profiles that you have developed (unless they’ve opted out!). If you think of sales as a personal relationship, developed over a complex and non-linear buyer journey, your customers are more likely to do the same. Such relationships have an organic expansion effect, of benefit both to you and your customers.
Find Out More
One of the ways we help customers make more sales at JDR is by developing highly targeted buyer profiles, or personas. These help to personalise your marketing messages and sales messages, leading more sales and a faster deal cycle. Give us a call to find out more.
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