Do You Think It or Do You Know It? Knowing Your Customer
Guest Faculty Post by Eric Protzman
Athletic events are often won or lost before the teams take the field.
Major customers are often won or lost before you even talk to them.
The reason? Information. Let’s discuss knowing your customer.
In my previous article I talked about customers, dating and marriage. Transformational Accounts (TAs)(10-20 times the size of your current average customer or 5-10% of your divisional revenue) are marriages. You get to decide whom you marry, and you can know in advance the quality of the marriage. Choose wisely (and selfishly) was the message. Your choices are deeply dependent on the accuracy of your information. Your instincts are not up to the task. I promise.
So how well do you know your prospective customer?
You can promise to put more sweat into selling than your competitors, but you’ll make a lot better decisions and make a lot more profit if you out hustle your competitors on the research side. And your research guide is your PROSPECT SCREEN. Everything you consider crucial in a TA needs to be posed as a question in your PROSPECT SCREEN so you can research it.
We tend to quit researching way too easily. The good news is so, do our competitors.
Tom Searcy often said to me when we were developing my business “Do you think it or do you know it”. It toughened my resolve.
Succeeding in research starts with a belief that you CAN know it. I challenge my clients and I am often met with “I just don’t know how we’d ever find that information”. And so they don’t, if they give in to that (often understandable) posture. But I don’t quit on the challenge. Most of the time we find a way. We get the information.
Tom wanted me to know total revenues for each of the 75,000 North American HVAC contractors in my database. Guess what? They are the only ones who know, and they won’t tell me that number. What are you going to do? First, continue to believe there is a way to find what you need. I live by the notion that if it isn’t impossible then there must be a way. I love to find it. I can call any HVAC contractor and they will proudly tell me how many service trucks they have. I know that to keep two workers and a truck viable you have to do $250,000 annual revenue. You can’t be profitable on less and you can’t really produce too much more. If the contractor tells me they have 12 trucks I know he has a $3 million dollar business. We updated the number of trucks into our database every time we contacted them.
Company websites will tell you where they have facilities. Online searches can answer so many questions (but verify). Counting the cars in a parking lot of a factory can tell you how many employees are there. And your Executive Sponsors need for you to have all the right information in order to serve their company well.
It all starts with taking on the challenge: I will make better decisions with KNOWING the information I seek on my Prospect Screen, and I’m not giving in until I get it. I am going to out work my competitors by learning more about my prospective customers.
Be ready to ask your organization “Do you know it or do you think it?” Provide a safe environment where they can say, “well, actually I just think it”. Then lead them and encourage them to get creative. Let them know they can KNOW it.
A Passion for KNOWING is a moneymaker.