Now that’s reversing the question, for a refreshing change. We work so hard to provide value to our customers, even if they are early-adopters for startups, and justify their spend on our services. In order for them to show us the money we show them how we are going to deliver the goods to help them move their businesses forward.
In the long run, after all the justification and negotiation and revisions and engagement, what is the ROI our customer base delivers to us? More specifically, which customer segment delivers the greatest ROI to us?
There are the folks who nurture and endorse us, promote us, help us gain greater visibility. Without ever having spent a dime for our services. Certainly these relationships are worthwhile. These aren’t necessarily the people we would, or should, expect to directly monetize our businesses. They are extremely valuable. We have earned their respect and they, in turn, have ours.
Then there are the folks with whom we directly do business, who are our A-List customers. We look forward to working with and for them. They bring out the best in us and we, in turn, bring out the best in them. The work is creative and satisfying. And lucrative. These are the folks who provide the greatest all-around ROI for us personally and professionally.
There are the folks who are browsers, ask us to generate proposals which go nowhere, and generally do not take what we bring to the table seriously. They haggle with us over pricing and contract for less than what we have proposed when we stand firm on our proposal. We still put in our A-effort; these folks never recognize what an A-effort can mean for their business because they are too busy ticking one project off the list and moving on to the next. The bottom line for the contracts we negotiate with them is less (sometimes far less) than the ones we create for our A-List customers. But there are a whole lot more of these types of C-Customers in our client base than we really want. They form the bulk of our revenue stream; and even though they drive us crazy, we feel we are stuck with them.
Time to recalibrate.
Re-think what creates customer ROI for you and your business. Think about the hours in the day you spend pursuing new business, identifying and following up leads, responding to requests for proposal. What category do they fall into: Nurturers, A-List, or C-List?
Which folks should you focus on throughout the year?
Set a goal of acquiring one new A-List customer throughout the year. Eventually you won’t have time to respond to as many C-List requests for proposal as before: you will start to evaluate their value to your company, and realize they aren’t worth responding to all of the time. You may end up eliminating some of the C-List customers from your client base, which can be done with a conversation thanking them for their business in the past, as you move forward to pursue different business development goals in the future. Then you will have a new success story to share with your Nurturers, who will be happy to share it with their network as they continue to support and endorse you.
In the world of entrepreneurship and start-ups, we call this a pivot. That slight – or even major – shift in perspective that results in your seeing your big picture differently.
It makes all the difference in the world. It makes you even more valuable to your customers. It generates greater return on your investment of time on behalf of their businesses.
Have you ever pivoted?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.