Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Know Your Best Customers by Bob Sullivan

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How Well Do You Know Your Best Customers? 

By Bob Sullivan 
Expert Author 
Article Date: 2008-08-05 

As a marketer, how much do you really know about your best customers? How much more should you know in order to retain them and find more like them? 

I've posted several times about the importance of complete current top customer knowledge, Too Many Marketers Have Too Little Customer Knowledge and What You Don't Know About Your Best Customers Equals What You Don't Know About Your Best Prospects. 

I can't stress this enough because without knowing your best customers, you and your sales reps are just floundering when it comes to effective lead generation and customer retention. It's like trying to catch a fish without the right lures or equipment. You probably won't catch what you want. 

Most sales & marketing experts will agree that defining your best prospects and retaining your best customers hinges on what you actually know about those current best customers. They are the key to a successful business future. If you don't know them, you don't know enough. 

So, how much do you know about your best customers and how much more should you know? 

Here is a list of vital key customer knowledge that every marketer should be gathering and leveraging to keep their best customers and find more like them. 
Correct Name (seems simple, but think of how many different ways the same company is spelled and entered into your systems)
HQ address and other location addresses - plants, service points, etc.
Phone, Fax, Website, Email
Primary SIC code, and secondary if applicable
Industry Segment (your classification for analysis)
Annual revenue
Employee size
Number of years in business
Parent company (if any) and applicable information about them
Company divisions or units, if any, how many and what products do each sell 
Merger and acquisition history
Partners and affiliations
Major customers
Primary products and other related products
Product (s) they buy from you
What other products might they use from you? Which department/division/units might use your products, contact names, and will your current contact refer
How often they buy from you
Why they buy from you - price, quality, service, locations, effective communication, or other
How much of their total last year revenue was influenced by your product
How often you communicate with them and the method they prefer
Their current market share
Their major competitors and their competitors' current market share
What competitors do you sell to, what products, how much
Your share of customer wallet, share of competitor wallet and potential for each
Their current industry challenges
Their latest press releases and newsletters, plus external news on them
Trade publications the decision makers read/subscribe to
Lead Source - what lead source did they originate from
Outstanding proposals you have with them
Decision maker/Contact for each key account/division/unit, the product sold to those, along with titles, email, phone extensions for each and personal interests
Influencers to the decision makers, along with their contact information 
I encourage everybody to comment and / or add to this list. Perhaps, together, we can build a very effective type of "Vital Best Customer Knowledge List" for the benefit of all marketers.

About the Author:
Bob Sullivan is President of InfoGrow Corporation, a national sales & marketing consultant and applications provider that enables clients to leverage information and technology for increased sales & marketing effectiveness.

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