one would argue that competing for time and attention
in today's business marketplace is a difficult
proposition. However - as if this alone wasn't
difficult enough - the company that truly understands
the buying habits of current and prospective customers
is the one that will most likely succeed in the
Knowing the reasons why customers purchase from
your company is important for positioning your
product or service for future sales. Moreover,
the way in which this purchasing knowledge infiltrates
other aspects of your business is key to customer
recruitment, retention and business continuity.
say, for example, that you retained a seemingly
satisfied customer who comes to you for advice
or perhaps a product, yet you have never bothered
to take the time to figure out why s/he comes
to you year after year instead of taking his or
her business elsewhere. Did you ever think about
asking? Perhaps you thought about it, but were
afraid to stir calm waters.
customer is intelligent, and knows he or she could
look elsewhere for similar services, but as it
turns out, s/he implicitly trusts your judgment
and advice, and truly believes you have rendered
good service time after time. What the customer
may not know is that you also offer other services
or products that could benefit him/her. While
you think you may have effectively communicated
your company's entire product or service offering
to your customer, and these offerings appear all
over your collateral materials and Web site, the
customer, still, may never have received the message.
you knew "trust" was the main reason
the customer stayed, you could have cross-sold
other products or services, and, in the process,
tremendously improved your bottom line. Companies
that understand the buying habits of customers
can naturally - and easily - transition this knowledge
into a more compelling selling proposition.
bottom line is that you when you are speaking
your customers' language, you will be on the same
communication wavelength, and will be able to
easily hear clues that reveal your customers'
at this from another perspective: Why do you prefer
to do business with one bank over another? Is
it service, lower fees, location or something
else? If bank executives knew why you chose their
institution, they could provide more services
or products that aligned with these reasons. In
addition, bank employees who understand these
preferences could be more knowledgeable or helpful
in ways that are meaningful to their customers.
good example of a company that is on its customers'
frequency is Amazon.com. If you've ever ordered
from the retail giant, you would know that each
time you log in, the merchant offers you many
choices for similar products you've bought in
the past. If you are into fitness books, the newest
fitness book is likely to be offered to you. Statistics
show this is an effective way to "sell"
or market to customers.
all heard Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
is a way to increase sales and manage customers,
but is CRM really an effective tool for speaking
the language, or is it just today's trend of the
moment? Dataquest, a unit of market researcher
Gartner, reports that CRM services market totaled
$22 billion in 2001, up 10.6 percent from the
year before. Dataquest also expects that number
to grow to $25.3 billion this year and reach $47
billion by 2006.
the money spent on CRM doesn't translate into
future sales if your employees don't understand
why a customer makes the decision to buy. How
do you effectively accomplish this, and to what
lengths do you go to do it?
Midwest design and research firm used a process
called "video ethnography," in which
the firm videotaped customers while they were
in the process of buying so they would get a clearer
picture - literally - of the process. We certainly
can't shine the spotlight on customers 24/7, but
you might try the following techniques:
Don't assume that buying is universal and predictable.
Try to gather as much information about the buying
or purchasing process as you can. Start from the
time your customer decides to ask for a service
or makes the decision to buy, and follow the sales
process through to calling or contacting your
company and making the purchase.
an employee's ear to carefully tune into the buying
habits of your customers significantly increases
your odds that the language you are speaking is
music to your customers' ears. The bottom line is
that customers find and loyally buy from those companies
that make customer concerns and desires priority
one. Remember, you aren't alone. Give us a call.
We'll help you develop a plan of action that can
increase future sales, customer retention and buyers'
Think beyond what you offer or are
currently offering. Even though you might be selling
a product, your customer may actually be buying
for other reasons that have nothing to do with
your product. Perhaps your straightforward business
communication tips the scale in your favor. Or,
maybe the customer buys from you because your
guarantee is the best. If you think in terms of
the purchase "decision," it is easier
to translate buying habits into future sales.
Use multiple methods to gather information
about your customers' buying habits. Ask your
employees to stay on the lookout for patterns
in buying and record client or customer comments.
Combine this information with customer surveys
or other response mechanisms. You're sure to spot
trends within this combined feedback. Strategically
leverage this knowledge and you are on your way
to dramatically impacting your bottom line.
Try to understand how people are using
the product or service you sell. Understanding
why customers buy and what the customer's desired
end result is can uncover opportunities or even
new product or service markets. If you sell aloe
vera plants as a medicinal product and your sales
increase by 10 percent in just one month, you
may find that something is behind this activity.
On further inspection, you may learn that a popular
glamour magazine touted aloe vera as the next
wrinkle defense. All of a sudden, you have a new
market that wants to buy your plants.