Customer, Where Art Thou?

In the last two weeks I've met with three different companies in different verticals and of different sizes. As usual, I asked a lot of questions to get a deeper understanding of each company's issues, their various challenges and how we could best address them.  And as usual in such cases, they all had the same lead management challenges.  Specifically, they all had ONE thing in common:  None of them had a clue as to who their customers were!

You see, even though they each had a customer database, and even though they knew the names of the customers in that database, they still had no real understanding or knowledge of their customers' wants, needs, and desires.  They could not effectively profile their customer, or provide a description of the ideal customer.

They say it's easier to sell to a customer then to try and get a new one.  (Don't worry; I'm not advocating avoiding new business development).  If this is true, then wouldn't it behoove companies to know as much as they can about the customers they're selling to?  In each of the engagements I mentioned above, I asked the executives with whom I met what cross-sell/up sell opportunities exist with your products? They all answered the same … "I don't know"!  This is because they don't know what their customers need.

The sad reality is that these companies are not in the minority. Many companies have no clear understanding of their customers, and therefore are leaving huge dollars on the table by not growing their customers.  I once worked for a software company where I managed the SMB Global Team. As part of our growth strategy, we made the decision to market and cross sell back to our customer base.  Before we began contacting customers, we segmented our database and found customers who had purchased only one product. After appropriate research and analysis of the customer segment, we targeted them with information on new additional products. This resulted in $10 million in revenue for that year!  Segmentation. Research. Analysis.  This helped us to better understand our customers, and subsequently meet their needs. 

So get to know your customers. Find out who they are and what they want.  You may find revenue you didn't know existed.