While most of you live in a business environment where you need to focus on weekly, 10-day, monthly or quarterly sales, your customers live in a world ruled by a 365 day calendar (leap years aside) where civic, religious and traditional holidays, moon phases, the zodiac and many other intellectual and emotional ‘triggers’ can be used to stage sales events: Valentine’s Day and Boxing Day are two examples.
From a psychological standpoint, winter is a great time to gather customer data that you can use to fine-tune next year’s strategic plan. In the winter people spend more time indoors and are already predisposed to make New Year’s resolutions. Whether you visit people like my wife does with a little gift and a ‘Pop-By’, invite them to a breakfast meeting, give them a call, send them a card or send a holiday email, ask your customers how they’re doing and how you can serve them better.
GUARANTEE #1. I guarantee you’ll learn something you can put into action to help put your organization at the top of their shopping list for the products or services you offer.
GUARANTEE #2. I guarantee you’ll need to wade through a bunch of boring data to get at the juicy bits.
Often the customer response cloaks a bigger issue:
1. Longer hours of operation is a common request that often means “I can’t get there after work” and can be solved with satellite offices, online stores or call centre options.
2. Too expensive often points to a self-serving sales proposition. Great value is the desired response and a function of the vendor explaining and the customer understanding and believing that the proposition is money well invested – not spent.
3. I can do that (faster) myself is the practical cousin to #2. The people are saying they don’t understand what value you’re bringing to the table. Like those in #2, these people have a point. Your selling proposition should be crystal clear and support the brand position and promise to help close the sale.
Regardless of what questions you ask and what answers you decide to take to heart, asking your customers what they think sends a very powerful message: “I’m interested in your Point of View.”
On that note I’m going to end this article with a few questions of my own.
• If you could replay 2011 – what would you do different?
• If you gained share this year – what do you attribute the gains to?
• If you lost share – what do you attribute the losses to?
• What is your directional business forecast for next year – why?