Winning new customers. No matter what your business, it’s vitally important. Most leaders I meet with are not happy with their company’s results in mastering this challenge. After successfully improving new customer wins in my last four leadership roles, and now with several companies in my current consulting business, I am going to share with you what I have seen work in real companies that I have helped lead.
HOW ARE YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS?
If you have succeeded at making your current customers raving fans, and your churn rate (attrition rate) is low (<5%), congratulations. You are halfway there to winning many new Customers! If you are having an issue here, you need to fix it now – or you will be wasting all your money capturing new customers, only to let them later run out the back door.
“To succeed as a business in the long-term, the pre-requisite for winning new Customers, is to have current Customers who are raving fans.”
THE STRATEGIC PLAN.
When we talk about winning new Customers, my first question is: ‘Specifically which Customers are we trying to win?’
There is a document that describes this: The strategic plan. The strategic plan defines your strategy to grow your business. It can be 3 pages or 103 pages – but it must contain thoughtful team-developed targets and programs that define how you will grow your business.
The place to start – with your management team.
You know what your management team is going to say if you tell them you want to develop a strategic plan? It won’t be good. We have all been part of planning processes that are a total waste of time. Months of work in planning sessions making sure your words are just right, that your charts flow, only to end up sitting on the shelf or on the planning drive on your server.
Do you know why this happens? Because the CEO and his/her direct reports did not inspire everyone to implement it! He/she did not hold people accountable to deliver on the plan. That’s all everyone wants! To execute the plan that you all agreed was important!
It does not have to be this way; and that’s what you need to tell your team.
“To win, you have to have a fighting spirit; You have to force moves and take chances.”
Bobby Fischer – World Chess Champion
Building your strategic plan is a 3-Step Process:
STEP 1. DEFINE POINT A. THIS IS WHERE WE ARE TODAY.
When I first go in and consult with clients, I initially help define the current situation. This could include revenues and profitability by product; Customer churn and growth, trends by market segment, biggest issues hurting the business, and our position relative to our competitors. If we are not a fast-growing, highly profitable company, why not? What is holding us back?
As part of this exercise, we define two items very clearly:
– What is your company brand? What do you believe in? What do you stand for? Your owner can probably nail this in a small business. Why did he/she start the business? Your brand can inspire your team – and your hiring – if it is compelling and authentic!
– What are you the thought leader of? What do you do better than anyone else? What makes you special to your Customers; Where do they most ask and need your help?
STEP 2. DEFINE POINT B. THIS IS WHERE WE ARE GOING.
What do the customers, owners and board members want you to accomplish in the next year; next 3 years? For that endpoint, discuss some key questions with your team and clearly describe the ideal desired outcome for your business, and what metrics do we need to put in place to tell us whether we have achieved our goal.
You should develop Persona’s at this point – describing the profile of the customer(s) you want to target in your sales and marketing efforts. This is about knowing your customers, how you will segment them, and refining your messaging for who you will target with your inbound and outbound marketing investments.
STEP 3. DEFINE THE EXECUTION PLAN. HOW WE WILL GET FROM POINT A TO POINT B
This is the secret sauce. It is the step many companies miss altogether. Most companies who put together strategic plans do a great job at Point B. But they do an average job at defining the current situation, and many simply forget about Step 3 – the execution plan to get there. So the plan dies.
I recommend you talk with your team about the obstacles standing between you and your desired Point B. What additional knowledge or skills are needed to win? What additional resources do you need to achieve your strategic objectives?
“Good positions don’t win games; good moves do.”
Gerald Abrahams – Chess player and author
If you can create enthusiasm around your strategic plan and inspire your team about the future, you will lay the foundation for your sales and marketing investment to pay off in winning new Customers, and take your business all the way to the top!