Identifying and attracting the right customers for your business isn’t always an easy task and you’ll often need to make tough choices at both a strategic and operational level to optimise your sales.
Remember those grammar tests you were set at school? The ones where you completely changed the meaning of a sentence by emphasising a different word.
This is one of those.
The word to emphasise is “right”. How to attract the right customers for your business.
If you’re focusing on how to attract customers – any customers! – then you might have a marketing problem. Or worse, it could be a lead gen issue and you’re considering diving into those shark-infested waters.
How to attract the right customers for your business should be a vital part of any sales plan. Yet doesn’t it also imply some customers are the wrong ones?
The wrong customers
Anybody who’s started a company remembers the thrill of the first customer.
It doesn’t matter that you worked day and night, offered a whopping discount and drove half the length of the country to make the delivery. It was your first customer. It was proof that your idea was more than a pipe-dream. It was the start of something.
That probably applied to customers two and three too.
But after a while, you probably started to figure out that you enjoyed working with some customers more than others.
In fact, if you really did give away a big discount in the early days you might resent working on wafer-thin margins to keep the wheels of business turning.
Maybe it’s impractical to keep making that drive, or the way the customer wants your product or service always needs some tricky tailoring.
But more than anything it’s probably about culture. When you had a “proper” job there were some people in the office you instinctively got on better with than others.
Customers are no different. Some of them are a joy to work with whilst there will be others where you never quite seem to be aligned.
Recognising which ones are the right customers for you and your business can help you optimise your sales and save time.
Ask many business owners who their most important customers are and they’ll answer “my ten biggest”.
In the short term, scale (and money) trumps everything.
Yet, if you accept that some customers are more rewarding to work with than others it follows that you will be happier and more successful if you find more of them.
So what are the characteristics of those customers you most like working with?
Do they pay on time, do they follow through on commitments, respond to emails quickly? Whatever criteria you identify start to build your ideal customer persona.
Project this forward 3 years as part of your business plan and you’ll come to acknowledge that your “ten biggest” might not always be the most important.
Some will play in channels that are more important for you. Some will be more open to innovation, partnering, or bringing on board new suppliers like you.
Whatever the reasons they will be the ones that should get the lion’s share of your attention!
Make those tough choices
Unfortunately, attracting the right customers also means making tough choices at times.
The difficult reality of business is you only have one team and one budget. Spending more time and money with the customers you want implicitly means less for the rest.
And it has to mean that. For many companies the customer getting the biggest discounts and most management attention is the one that shouts loudest. Would you settle for that?
So attracting the right customers needs thinking through at both a strategic and operational level.
Who are going to be your growth partners in the next three years and how do you give them more?
How do you build stronger relationships, what new skills does your team need and how can you explore new products and services?
How do you nudge down the resource invested in your other customers in a way that keeps them working with you?
How do you automate the services you offer them, reduce cost or increase prices?
How to attract the right customers
Follow these three principles and you’ll be on the road to choosing the right customers. The ones you’ll most enjoy working with and the ones that can really be the rocket fuel in the engine of your business!
Read also: “Three ways to understand your ideal prospect“