Do You Know Your Customer?

Bob Williams, Eternality LLC October 2022

Over the course of my career, I have learned that most sales, marketing & business development professionals attempt to present their firm’s value proposition without actually knowing their customer or knowing if their customer has a need for their proposition.

Sometime the professional does not care who their customer is, only if they have a need and money; Sometimes they don’t know the importance of knowing their customer; and Sometimes they just do not know how to learn about a prospective customer.

I developed a “living” process for how to learn to get to know a prospective client or customer. I have used this process in virtually every encounter with prospective clients. In addition to using this process myself, I have trained many professionals in this process. These professionals vary in age, industry, educational background, nationality or technical competence.

As a side note, I have also used this process in every job interview with a prospective future employer as well.

I have used this process when working on five continents for non-profit organizations, privately-held companies, and Fortune 500/100 corporations.

This works.

Below I provide some of the key information I seek to learn about a prospective client. I answer as many of these as possible before my initial meeting and discover the answers to the rest of the questions during subsequent meetings. This is hard work but rewarded in developing both professional and personal relationships.
Under each of the a,b,c… points below there are many additional areas that I am not detailing in this short article that the professional needs to know in order to develop a successful relationship with their target client.

  1. Who is the target(s) at the client? (may be more than one)
    a. Key Background Information: Professional and personal
    b. Education
    c. Military / Volunteer experience
    d. Sports
    e. What they value in business and in life
    f. How I can help my target be more successful
  2. Who is the likely objector(s)?
    a. Same information as the target
  3. What is the prospective client’s business?
    a. Industry / Industry trends
    b. Offering / Product
    c. Success metrics
    d. How I can help my client become more successful
    e. Organization / Key Personnel / Management Style
    f. Number and locations of offices / personnel
    g. Time in business
    h. The client’s reputation in the press / media
  4. The client’s customers
    a. How the client’s customers measure success
    b. How the target client contributes to their customers’ success
    c. Reference projects
    d. How their customers value the offering and service of the target client
  5. Competitors
    a. Identify the target client’s competitors
    b. Understanding the competitors’ customers & value propositions
    c. Why are their competitors successful

In this short article I have not touched on how to select targets, how to know my own business, organization, offering, industry, competencies, weaknesses, and my competitors. This process covers all the above areas as well.

If you would like to discuss how to implement any of these areas in your organization, please reach out and let’s have a conversation.

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