Getting to Know Your Customers

With the third “Get to Know Your Customers Day” coming right around the corner, I thought it would be an interesting topic for this week’s blog. 

To be honest, I think the idea of a “know your customers” day is a bit silly (even if it is four times a year) as successful businesses know their customers everyday. But I guess the idea of having a day to remind yourself of its importance isn’t all bad. 

So what’s the best way to go about knowing your customers? First, you need to be 100% sincere in actually wanting to know them – customers can sense a disingenuous company and person a mile away. If you go into your efforts saying “OK, I’ll feign interest if that’s what it takes to get a PO”, forget about it – you need to either be involved in transactional sales or in another line of work entirely. 

Once you have a decent understanding of your customers desires and requirements, the next step is always putting their needs first – even if it means losing a deal. One of my favorite success stories demonstrating the power of putting the customer first was very early in my career, even before I was officially in sales. 

I was the field engineer for a good customer and they contacted me with a new application. My company did technically have a product for this application, but it was one of our weakest offerings and I knew this customer would not be satisfied with its performance. So instead of risking a great relationship with a really good customer over one deal, I actually sent them to a competitor who I knew had a far better product for the application. Although we lost the product portion of one sale (we did get the integration portion), we proved to the customer beyond a shadow of a doubt that we put their interests first.

From that point on, no matter how large the project, they never put any of the work related to our products/services out to bid – they just came directly to us and never once questioned the cost.

Now, what would have been better – taking that one small sale, or ‘owning’ the customer for life? All of that was accomplished by “knowing our customer” and ensuring their needs were met.

Good luck, and check back next week for more!

Rick, Your Chicagoland Sales Strategist

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