Should You Strive for Fewer Customers?
By Richard Fouts | February 15, 2013 | 1 Comment
“Less is more” is a piece of advice we hear frequently. But not when we think of customers. We want as many of those as possible. Where this gets short sighted however is the long tail of sales.
When I sold to local government at HP, I was both hunter and farmer, meaning I was responsible for growing the new accounts that I landed. The Cites of Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach bled me dry with service demands. And they never bought anything. The Cities of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica were more middle-of-the road. But Los Angeles County? They bought a lot, and weren’t terribly demanding. They were very self supporting and made excellence use of our online support resources and their peer connections.
But, I couldn’t give LA County the attention they deserved because I was busy responding to lower value accounts. And I soon lost wallet share to IBM, who seeing the value, dumped their paratroopers downtown while I was at the beach. I remember when we had an account review, there I was with egg on my face. My sales manager, being a constructive type asked me to apply the attributes of these service demanders to my sales pipeline. “You can’t really fire these demanding customers,” he said, “but you can stop acquiring more like them.”
It was good advice. I applied my crude analysis of service demanders (that bought very little) to my pipeline. Lo and behold, there were two prospects that echoed the behavior my excessive high service demanders. Hard as it was, I told those prospects that HP was not a good fit, and that they should call IBM.
My predictions were pretty spot on, something computer software can now be trained to do. In fact, the use of predictive analytics in areas like lead scoring promises to dramatically help us get to a scenario where all of our customers are our best customers.
Many B2B marketers are way behind in this thinking. These are the same marketers that have not yet translated their post-sales observations of customers into business rules they can apply to prospects. If this is you, fix it now. If you’re past that stage, check out this announcement from KXEN, who is bringing even more sophistication to the process to help us “make every customer a good customer.”