How often do you speak directly with customers about their needs/wants/concerns? Q4 is here. It’s the season to deepen customer relationships and move into 2022 with momentum.
Most CEOs would rather have a root canal than make calls on customers. They don’t know what to say. They’re afraid the customer will blindside them with a complaint they haven’t heard before. They’re fearful that the customer is going to pull work from them or ask for a price reduction.
Gaining information beforehand will prove invaluable in getting the most out of such important conversations. Here’s the information a CEO needs to know before calling on a customer.
- How long have we been working with this customer?
- What is the dollar value of the sales done for this customer by year?
- What’s the profit margin on these sales?
- What percent of our total sales does this customer represent?
- What challenges have been encountered working with the customer?
Speak with all the people in the company who have had contact with the customers you plan to visit with. Questions to ask them:
- What is your impression of this customer? What advice do you have for making this a fruitful contact?
- Why does the customer contact us? Do they-
- Call to issue change orders?
- Ask for price concessions?
- Move the delivery date?
- Check on why an order is delayed?
- Complain about quality issues?
- What could we do to improve our service to them?
- Does this customer have other work we could do?
- What kind?
- Why should they give it to us?
- In what ways could we add value for this customer?
The CEO now has intimate information about every aspect of the customer relationship.
Chances are your customer knows they are an important part of your business. Be prepared to demonstrate how your company will continue to improve value for the customer. Here are some things to share.
- How did your company weather the pandemic? What changed and what will continue to be different?
- What new equipment have you added since your last visit?
- What new equipment do you plan to add in the future? Estimated date?
- Have you added new systems? (For example MRP, ERP, CRM, Quote?)
- Have you updated any processes that will affect the customer? In what way?
- What new skills is your team developing? How will they impact the customer?
- How will your goals for the future impact this customer?
Now it’s time to schedule a visit with your customer in whatever format the customer feels most comfortable with.
Part II next week: Smart questions to ask your customer.
The road is easier together,