Thousands of businesses have won the lottery but haven’t checked the numbers on the ticket!
Is your business sitting on a treasure trove of information and you don’t even realize it? Or, you’re pretty sure there’s something there but aren’t quite sure what to do? And then the phone rings and you head off to fight another fire...
Sure, you have a method for keeping track of negotiation information – price, quantity, model number, customer name, etc. - whether you paid for an expensive SaaS CRM solution or are using Excel spreadsheets. You also have records of what your customers ordered. Knowing what the customer will do in the future is the key.
Connecting the dots makes all the difference and therein lies the gold. But it’s more than just doing the easy math. If you have a business that depends on repeat business from an established customer base, you can use this. However, there’s one more element before you can use the information to your immediate benefit. You have to add Customer Behavior into the equation. Properly done, this element can turn coal into diamonds.
Here’s what I mean by Customer Behavior. Your customers (current, former and potential) have a process to buy goods and services. They identify a need, define the requirements to fill that need, issue an RFP, take bids, do an evaluation and place an order. You win or lose. Winning solves a lot of problems but losing is only slightly less valuable.
What to do? Ignore for the moment the hard data – was the project in the budget, was the budget approved, did your product/service fully comply with the specs, was the price competitive, how far up the food chain does the project have to go to be officially awarded...- and focus on the less tangible side. Do I typically get business from this particular buyer? If so, what kind of business do I get (assuming you have multiple product lines the customer might purchase), how long does it usually take when I do get business from them, have there been personnel changes at the customer since the bids were taken?
Assume the answers are: Yes – I usually get business from this customer, from this buyer and for the quoted product lines. It usually takes 60 days from the time we bid the project to the time it is awarded to us (key in on how long it takes to be successful) and No – there haven’t been any personnel changes. You can reasonably expect that combining the hard data (yes the price was competitive, the spec was met, it was in the budget) with the soft data will result in an order in two months time. You can’t automatically relax because no customer wants a supplier to assume they are going to get the business.
However, knowing this does allow you to focus on other customers for incremental success, and keep a light touch for 30 days on your connection with that customer (through your sales person or directly). No news is the polar opposite of good news in business, though, so don’t make any assumptions!