“Your customers are killing your business” was the first thing I said when I presented my report to the CEO of a major service company. Naturally, the response I received was a look of shock from the face of the CEO as he sat back in his chair, utterly speechless. At that point I had 100% of his attention despite the fact that a detailed explanation was now in order. And it went something like this…
“Robert, in business, not every customer is the right customer” I said. “If you don’t adopt this mentality now then your business will never reach its full potential.” Let me explain…
There are only three types of customers any one company has. The first are your Promoters which are your best customers for if you give to them, they will give back in return. The second group are your Buyers who will only buy from you and nothing else. The last group are your Demoters who will end up taking far more from you and will never give in return.
A good business will define their Promoters in advance and will always know how to identify and focus the majority of your resources around these people. In order to help do this, you need to create an ideal customer avatar and make sure everybody in your organization has a copy and understands it as well. One of the chapters in my last book, THE TOP 20%, includes more details about these three customer types and how to best manage them. But before this process begins, you need to start with the Avatar. Below is an example of the Avatar template I use with other companies.
I then asked Robert to complete profiles of his best promoters and to look for commonalities between them. These can include any personal or professional demographics, activities, buying behaviors, interests, etc. Once these are created, we can then create a single avatar of the “ideal” customer and even use a picture and assign him/her a name.
Once this was completed, I then asked Robert what percentage of his current customers he thought met the majority of this criteria. He didn’t know…but his sales and service managers certainly did when I asked them and Robert was not happy with what he heard. “Less than 10% of your current customers even come close to your ideal customer avatar which means the remaining 90% are slowing but surely killing your business” I said. “But here is the good news; we can change this starting right now.”
The following Monday Robert held a company-wide WebEx to explain the following to his employees:
- “I want you all to meet our ideal customer moving forward – we will refer to this person as ‘Doug.’ You will all keep a copy of this customer (avatar) on your desk and know that this is your highest priority customer when it comes to sales, marketing, service, support, and any other interaction with our company. So anytime you are referring to this type of client, you refer to him or her as being just like Doug.”
- “The future of this company as well as the future and well-being of your own sanity (Robert was a colorful communicator to say the least) are predicated on attracting and retaining as many people like Doug as we can. This means that sales prospects and existing clients like Doug should always get the red carpet treatment from you moving forward.”
- “If you ever feel like prospects and clients like Doug are not being treated properly, I want you to personally bring it to my attention. That should show you just how important this new change is and why I want everybody on the same page with this moving forward. We all want to love our work and the people we work with and this is the best way to help us continue to move in this direction.”
As you can see, Robert had the right idea here but more importantly this new cultural change needed to come directly from the top in order to receive the full attention and commitment needed by everybody in his company to help make it successful. The fact that Robert gave his employees and open-line directly to him on any deviations also gave a clear message of accountability and his unfettered commitment to make it successful.
By creating an ideal client Avatar for his company, Robert also sent an indirect message to himself and his employees to avoid and say “no” to bad customers as well. In short, not every customer is the “right” customer and now his employees have a clear delineation between the two – all of which will help his business in a multitude of ways including:
- His sales organization will now look for and sell to clients that will lead to higher retention rates and even help the business grow by providing more new customer referrals.
- His customer support organization will now be able to better align their limited time and resources in a way that will produce better productivity, long-term results, and higher retention for the business.
- His shareholders will benefit by having a more profitable business with a much stronger long-term financial outlook leading to a higher business valuation.
- And Robert will benefit by being the person responsible for making all of this happen under his direction and leadership.
The results Robert is trying to achieve is not dissimilar to any other company or organization who wants to successfully grow and prosper. We often look for many ways in which to try to accomplish this but often the most overlooked yet critically important aspect starts and ends with your ideal customer Avatars. Once you define and proactively organize around them you can solve one of the most critical problems that continue to plague businesses from the sales organization on up today. And just like Robert, you too can take major steps to future growth and success today all by focusing on one critical element: your ideal customer avatars.
If you need help in building successful customer Avatars and strategies for your business, contact us today!