7 Questions to Evaluate Customers and Prospects
Businesses work hard to get and keep customers. We value these relationships and as a result, we tend to treat all customers with great care and attention. Prominent grocery store owner Stew Leonard keeps a painted rock just inside his flagship story with a two-step philosophy:
“1. The Customer’s Always Right; 2. If the Customer is Wrong, See Rule Number 1”.
While there is a great deal of wisdom in doing everything you can to keep your customers, there is also a growing understanding among business leaders that treating all customers the same is different from treating all customers fairly.
The fact is that not all customers have the same level of impact, fit, and mutual benefit to both parties. And customer relationships are not static. Customer ownership, direction, and results are subject to change, making a rigorous review of accounts a necessary exercise. And since this review helps frame where we go to look for new customers, it makes even more sense to commit to this approach on a regular schedule.
As you embark on this activity, here are seven questions to discuss with your team to get you started.
- What is the fit between our customer’s needs and our capabilities?
- What is our ability to serve our customer compared with our major competitors?
- What is the overall health and the future prospects for the customer’s industry?
- What is the customer’s overall health and prospects for growth?
- What are the customer’s prospects for growth with us?
- Can we learn from this customer?
- Can this customer help us get other customers?
This exercise is not just for the sales and/or marketing team. Involve your senior team in this discussion and allow for robust input, feedback, thoughts, and ideas.
I have facilitated a number of these sessions. In many cases, information about what is happening inside key accounts is revealed to the group and new insights shared. In one more memorable example, the fact that a significant customer was the target of an acquisition by a much larger, publicly traded company. Armed with this new information, the team was able to prepare for a potential transition and planned accordingly.
For more information (and more discussion questions) contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.