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Do You Care Who Your Customer Is?

5 Feb, 2015 By: Tom Callinan, Strategy Development

It’s one of the most fundamental questions of marketing, and almost always the answer is a resounding yes.  The question is a foundational aspect of a company’s strategy.  Could you picture one of the ultra high-end retailers opening a store in the middle of a public housing project?  How about one of the super discount department stores opening in Beverly Hills?  My guess is that they would both be out of business within a year, but not because they are unsuccessful retailers, but rather because they pursued the wrong customer with these store locations.

When I ask dealers whom they want as a customer I frequently get the reply, “Everybody.”  I don’t understand that answer: Are they saying they want 100% market share?  That’s clearly not possible so that can’t be what’s behind the reply.  Given that 100% market share isn’t possible my guess is that the answer is a reaction because they have never given any consideration to this important question.

Who is the best customer for your dealership?  Let’s assume you replied commercial accounts with 3 – 10 copiers in your servicing area with local decision making authority.  Let’s also assume we could make an educated decisions on what company size by vertical would have between 3 – 10 copiers (we could).  Let’s further assume that we could buy a list of these accounts in our local area, which we can, and that there are 500 accounts that fit our criteria. 

Logically, we’d then take that list and compare it to the accounts in our CRM to determine how many of those 500 we have as customers and how many we have good activity with in the last 6 months.  I’d lay odds the average dealer has less than 50 as either a customer or with solid business development activity.  That leaves 450 accounts that we ourselves defined as the best customer for our dealership.  Shouldn’t we focus our resources on those 450 accounts before we spent one minute on any other account? 

Then after we had all 500 of those accounts clearly assigned to a sales professional and being worked diligently, shouldn’t we then focus on every account in our area with 2 copiers?  Then shouldn’t we focus on every account with a segment 6 device before we were concerned with an account with a segment 5 device?  And then focus on those with a segment 5 device before we’re concerned with an account with a segment 4 device?  The answer is “of course.”

So why don’t some dealerships take this approach?  Because it takes work and it takes a complete paradigm shift in management.  Our industry seems to believe in “non-management” as opposed to a scientific approach to business.  What could be more, or less depending on how you looked at it, of a lack of management then telling a sales professional to go out, randomly roam around and knock on doors, and try to find somebody who will talk to you and wants to buy a copier? 

Let’s face it, if a dealer’s management actually had an assigned list of accounts for each sales professional that worked for them they’d have to focus on how well a sales professional was working the account through the sales process rather than focusing on how many phone calls a rep was making.  Management would have to focus on how to engage in accounts to get higher and wider rather than asking how many business cards the rep collected today.  Management would be helping the rep build a pipeline rather than trying to find something to close this month, when that isn’t going to happen anyway.

Yet all of those changes are clearly a far better approach that anybody who thinks logically would tell you makes perfect sense.  So back to the topic of this post: Do you care who your customer is?  You should and you should change your approach as soon as possible to use your management team more effectively, reduce sales turnover, and accelerate your revenue and profit growth.


If you’d like to learn an entire sales management process that will have your growth accelerating, then join Strategy Development on March 17-18 in Chicago for our next Strategic Sales Management WorkshopClick here for more information or to register.  In addition, Tom Callinan is a speaker at the upcoming ITEX Expo held March 10-12, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.   Visit www.itexshow.com for full details.


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