Article: Knowing your customer will increase your business

Sept. 28, 2011

It is important for any business to focus both on short term as well as long term goals. Short term goals for a sales man is usually quite simple and involves trying to persuade as many people as possible to purchase products and services. But, it is also important to focus on the long term goals and to understand that by knowing your customer you will be able to sell more than you ever thought to that one customer.

You have just been invited to a customer to discuss his needs and you think you have the possibility to help him. Since he has shown interest for what you might have to offer you have transformed him from a suspect to a prospect.
You go to his office, determined that you will sell him at least one product.

Being determined to sell something is great, but what would be even more great is to understand that if you can understand your clients needs you will be able to sell him even more.

I have been working with a lot of sales people. Most of them extremely good at selling the product they are about to sell.
However, I have worked with very few who are able to listen to the real needs of the client. What is really the problem that he is trying to have solved and what keeps him awake at night?

What we started to do was to do a needs assessment. The first thing when coming to the customer was to discuss what the problem was that they wanted to solve. They might think that a specific solution will solve their problem but since they are not experts in that field they are walking the wrong path.
By first being informed about their problems without thinking about what solution you can sell them you will be able to see the problem from a higher perspective. Sometimes you might not even be able to present a solution in that meeting but will go back home to think of a solution and come back later to present something.

By working in the path of getting to know your customer first you will be able to solve a lot of problems for them in the future. You might even have to say that you don’t have a solution for one of the issues but your role will then be to arrange a solution with another company, hopefully a partner.
With this kind of unselfish acting you will be able to start building a trust between you and your clients. This creates loyal clients that will be part of your business for many years to come.

When getting to know your customers it is also important to fund out what they really like. You might have one client who loves golf. What a perfect thing to take advantage of for the next sales meeting. You go out for a 4-hour round of golf to finish off in the restaurant discussing more solutions that he can do good with.
Of course it is invaluable to know about birthdays, family situation, etc as well. Things that you will get to know while talking and listening to the customer.

When you have all information it is important that you add this to some Sales Software. By adding information that is good to know about the customer you won’t forget it and are also able to add reminders in the calendar, for example to congratulate on a birthday or so.

Sales Software, or at least the CRM part of a software, is also good for adding all kind of activities connected to the customer. Even when you tried to reach the person should be in the system. This will help you to remember when you tried to call him but didn’t manage to get hold of him. This information can be very good to have when being in the next discussion with the customer.

Knowing your customer and create some kind of relationship that is built on trust is invaluable for your long term goals. Of course this will also make your job more fun but it will give you a much higher result and also help you not to have to chase new customers all the time.
There should be a balance on time spent on keeping old customers happy and trying to increase the amount of customers. There is always a formula where a customer costs too much for what he gives, but you also have to remember that he is likely to speak well about you to his contacts and friends as well, even though he himself don’t purchase anything at all.