On the topic of why your customers buy, lets talk about identifying your ideal customers, then researching the decision makers in those companies. This is part of our series on business growth for Automotive companies...
Do You Know Why Your Customers Buy is one of my first questions when I'm getting to know a new company and looking at ways we can help them with business growth. Most people have a fairly good answer and can describe their customers and how the market ticks. But, when I ask "is that based on asking your customers" there's normally a delay and this is where ideal customer research comes in.
People that work in an industry will know how it ticks from their perspective; trends in sales, what competitors are doing, what happened at the last trade show, and the latest gossip. That's all important but the most valuable is being able to identify your ideal customers and the reason why they buy the products and services you sell.
Lets start by identifying your ideal customers
It's easy to fall into the trap of trying to sell your products and services to everybody that shows an interest. If you run an internet business with ecommerce then online purchases allow anybody to buy from you. But, if you run a business that includes sales people and any form of considered purchase then you can fall into the trap of wasting time with the wrong opportunities as well as letting new customers down purely because they're not a good fit for what you're selling.
An ideal customer will be the best fit for your products and services. You'll know that you can help them, they'll typically spend more and overall you'll achieve greater profits and long term revenue through repeat business. You'll also have the chance to convert a customer into an evangelist who will be a promoter and advocate of your business.
Some ways to define your ideal customer profile and the companies that are a perfect fit
If you already have a customer base, start by looking at your best customers based on the ones that generate the best revenue, profit, and that you and your team like working with. Then get into the detail and consider these areas:
- B2B: Number of employees, revenue, customers, industry etc.
- B2C: Income, education, household size, phase of life, occupation etc.
- Are there geographic locations that are ideal or not ideal?
- Are there legal standards that are required to purchase your products or services?
- Are there any other attributes that make a buyer ideal or not ideal?
If you’re a B2B company, your ideal customer profile might look like this
- Industry: Manufacturing
- Size: <1,000 employees
- Location: UK or France
- Other: NOT publicly traded
If you’re a B2C company, it might look more like this
- Age: 55+
- Income: <£75,000
- Location: London, UK
- Family situation: Married, no kids at home
Then research the decision makers in those companies
This is the part that many companies have never done. If you're the company taking time to 'ask' questions then you'll be seen as outward facing and that will differentiate you from your competitors. This part of the process is also about knowing what triggers your ideal customer to buy and the way they want to be sold to.
Preparing assets for the research
I suggest creating a questionnaire using Google Forms then have all responses feed into a Google Sheet so you can easily spot trends for each question. Then create one email Template that asks for feedback and add that into a Sequence so you can send the first email off and, if you don't get a response, the Sequence will automatically send a chase email and a couple of reminders for you to call.
Then you'll want to create a list in your CRM so it's easy for you to call and email the people that fit your ideal customer profile. It's also a good idea to create a search in LinkedIn and send out messages to people that you'd like to work with.
As a salesperson, you can use this as a sales opportunity. You're not picking up the phone and trying to sell, you're asking questions and gather feedback. How you phrase this is important and something like "I'm doing some research and would value your opinion" normally works well.
Some questions to use in the questionnaire - I'll stick to B2B at this point
You'll want to replace the blanks with the products and services that you sell.
- What are you responsible for at work? What are your goals?
- What challenges do you face at work?
- What are some of the names you use to describe __________? If you were searching online, what words would you use?
- What is your buying process for __________ from (1) Realising you have a need to, (2) Investigating solutions and suppliers to, (3) Finally deciding what __________ to use/buy?
- What are your frustrations with companies that supply __________? What do you dislike?