Regardless of how good your service and products are, no one is going to buy unless they believe they need what you’re selling. Without sales, your business simply isn’t going to last. The key to getting sales is to convince customers that they must have your products, and to do this effectively you need a deep understanding of what it is your customers actually want. If this is all new to you, check out this course and learn how customer insight can help you to grow your business.
This guide will run you through everything you need to understand about your customers, how to find this information and use it to make effective sales, and ultimately win more business from your competition. If you’re a new business owner just starting out, try this course and learn the fundamental pillars of success for your venture.
Why Do Your Customers Need You?
The first question you need to ask yourself as a business manager, is why should customers purchase your products, and not the competitors. In management theory this is also referred to as your unique sales proposition, or USP for short. This will be fluid, and can change as the market or your business changes. To get started you need to answer the following question:
My customers want to buy from me, because my company is the only …
Taking a local office supply store for example they could have the following USPs:
- Customers needing fast delivery, “my company offers free, same-day delivery to local customers”
- Cost conscious customers, “my company offers a 10% discount for corporate accounts that spend over $1000 a month”
- Professional customers needing a range of products, “my company has the most comprehensive stock of professional artist materials within 100 miles”
What makes these USPs effective is that they are driven by what the customer looks for when they are making the decision to purchase. Remember to review your USPs regularly, and always change them as needed so they better fit everything your customers are looking for. A good clarification is to ask customers why they purchase from you – it may surprise you if it’s not the reason you suspect!
In addition, remember to keep an eye on the competition. Once they adjust their USP, and begin offering the same services to your base of customers you are no longer unique, and you need to adjust. One incredibly competitive market is the life coach industry, this course will help you to better understand what your customers are looking for, and turn your dream into a successful business.
Research Your Customers
Doing your background research on your customers is critical, as it gives you the information you need to target your sales and marketing efforts. Spend the time to discover:
- Who your customers actually are
- What they actually buy (in addition to your products)
- Why they are making these purchases
When you’re selling to business customers, you should also investigate which people have the final say on the decision to buy your product. The best way to get all of this information is to simply talk to your customers. Ask them why they have made particular purchases, and what they are looking to buy in the future. You’ll soon develop a very valuable insight into what is most important to your customers. If you’ve not yet made a sale, this course will help to get you on track and land your first paying client.
Once you know what your customers value, you will be able to sell even more effectively. This allows you to target your approach and highlight the features of your product that exactly meet the customer’s needs. You should also work to recognize future needs, and the developments that occur in both the market and in the lives of your customers. When you can pick the trends that influence when your customers decide to buy, you can position yourself and offer the solution – as soon as they need it.
The best information is gathered from talking directly with your customers, but you can also run surveys and purchase existing market reports that give you an idea of where the trends are happening. It’s critical you stay on top of this.
Current Suppliers of Your Customers
There’s a high likelihood that the customers you’re targeting already purchase services or products similar to what you’re offering. Most new businesses don’t reinvent the wheel, but take a new spin on an existing idea or concept. Realize this, and before you reach out to a potential customer, do your research and discover:
- The supplier they are currently using
- Their opinion of their current supplier (happy or unsatisfied)
- The benefits the customer would get if they purchase from you instead of their established supplier
This information is generally easy to obtain, the simplest way to get it is to pick up the phone and call your target accounts. You’ll be able to pick up on their tone, and any more direct comments as to whether they are happy with their current set-up. Putting together a list of benefits that the customer will receive from switching to your company will form a core part of your sales strategy, perhaps you can offer a higher service level, or a more competitive price.
Key Customer Information
When you’re talking to your customers, or potential customers, run through this list of questions as you’re doing your research to help you get an idea of what it is they’re looking for.
- Demographic information on gender, age, marital status, and their occupation.
- When selling to businesses, research the size and kind of business they represent.
- Learn their interests in their personal life, or what their business is trying to achieve.
- Try to determine the key factors that make them buy a product or service. Is it price? Convenience?
- Investigate when they make the decision to buy. If you can approach them at the right time, you will massively increase your success rate.
- Learn their preferred method of interaction. Some people prefer face-to-face meetings, while others are happy purchasing over the internet.
- Research their buying power. Try to match what you’re offering to what the customer can afford.
- Discover what it is about buying this product or service that makes them feel good.
- What the customer is expecting, so you can deliver on this and win repeat business.
- Learn what the customer actually thinks about you. If they like you, you’re going to get more business.
- Learn what the customer actually thinks about the competition. This will give you information to further refine your USP.
All of these questions are geared around understanding your customers even more. Once you know what makes them ‘tick’ you can focus your sales efforts accordingly, and serve each customer exactly in a way that makes them comfortable
Anticipation and Exceeding Expectations
Now that you have a base information on what your customers want, use it to anticipate and meet their needs before they even expect it. This will help you exceed customer expectations on every interaction, and will create brand loyal followers that come back again and again. This recent post covers some of the most common customer retention strategies, as it’s actually cheaper to bring back an existing customer than to find a new one.
Retaining customers isn’t always easy to do, but what you’re aiming to do is put yourself in your customers shoes. They may have an unusual request, but you won’t know unless you ask the million dollar question “may I help you with anything else?” This is best demonstrated with the massively successful McDonald’s campaign, “Would you like fries with that?” which was an excellent example of both meeting customer needs, combined with an up-sell of additional products.
Finally, you should also spend time playing with, and using your own products. Is there anything that you would like a little more explanation on, or you can change that will help your customers even more? Being empathetic to what the customers need is critical, even if it’s an unusual request that you can’t help with. Acting sympathetic will help to smooth the whole situation, and find a polite and reassuring way to communicate how you can help the customer (or advise why their request is impossible).
Wrap up every interaction with just an extra moment of your time, perhaps a little more eye contact and a sincere thank you that reassures customers you value their business. Most customers will not have needs outside of their basic purchase, but they all will appreciate that extra couple of seconds you’ve spent to make them feel special, along with a big smile. This course is excellent at teaching the little customer service tricks that make your customers feel extra special.
Getting the needs of your customers right is key to the overall success of your business. Every customers thoughts, feelings and experience with your company affects your profitability, and it’s your job as a business owner to understand what it is your customers are looking for. Once you do, you can develop products and services that meet their needs much better than the competition, and be much more successful as a result. So what are you waiting for? Start researching your customers today!