Not all customers are created equal. Some are toxic, some dribble in revenue or profit, and some are perfect (while “perfect” is impossible, think of it as “the closest thing to perfect”).
The point of perfect prospects is…
…that converting them into customers gives you perfect customers, not just ordinary ones.
The qualities that make customers perfect are with them at the beginning, as prospects. Their perfectness is with them whatever sales stage we come across them (look for next week’s blog for a new way to identify perfect prospects).
And adding perfect customers will balance your book of business against the toxic and dribbling customers.
What’s a perfect customer?
At a simplistic level, without defining demographic or psychographic criteria, perfect customers are:
- highly profitable & prompt payers
- long-term & loyal
- valuing your contributions & expertise
- open, honest & with integrity
- enjoyable to work with
The first bullet is intentional; demanding. Without it a customer isn’t perfect, just good (which ain’t bad, but not good enough).
It’s perfect customers that…STRETCH us. They are the harbingers of change. They move us out of our comfort zones.
Let’s face it, the motivation for making big changes most often comes from the whip, not the carrot. Think of the changes driven by large fines, lost contracts, accidents, looming insolvency, etc.
However, perfect customers are different. They’re change agents with a carrot.
And while stretching to serve perfect customers often feels uncomfortable and frequently painful, it leads to major increases in your firm’s:
The down side to rising up to meet perfect customers are unexpected costs and time investments, but then again they’re worth it (review the list above).
3 stretches caused by perfect customers
For clarity’s sake, let’s remember that the following are only for perfect customers – those that meet most, if not all the attributes listed above.
#1 Raising site standards
Perfect customers have higher expectations. Ever hear something like this?
–> “Well, as the world-class supplier we hired we’re glad you see bid specifications as guidelines, just like we do. What do you say, let’s work together to do what needs to be done. We’ll make sure the dollars are covered, one way or another.”<–
By rising to meet perfect customer expectations, we raise our standards for their site(s). If they’re truly perfect customers it’s worth serving them this way.
#2 Gaining competitive advantage & confidence
Once we’ve risen to serving a perfect customer’s demanding expectations we’ll have gained in the process: Whether it’s a higher level of service at the same price (productivity gains), or introducing a new related service (innovation).
With our new capability or capacity, we’re able to selectively use it as a competitive advantage when bidding new contracts, and/or rebidding to retain incumbent work.
Additionally, our firm’s self-confidence has increased, so when it’s time to creatively bid new contracts our hands are steady. Also, when having to solve never-before-seen problems, we now have a history of rising to the challenge.
#3 Aggressively searching for new solutions
When pushed to solve challenges by perfect customers, we’re put into R&D mode. And because we’re trying to satisfy a demanding (perfect) customer, we’re motivated to do this promptly and fully.
After that mission is accomplished, we’ve gained expertise that can be leveraged to other customers, selectively and as needed.
More importantly, we’ve worked a process of R&D that should be institutionalized. An R&D process that we can continue as a matter of course within our firm. Imagine the improvements to be identified, tested and verified when we’re not working at the 11th hour.
Perfect customers are the point of perfect prospects
Perfect prospects lead to perfect customers, and they’re demanding, in a good way. Perfect customers can lead to improvements in our firm’s competitive advantage through increased capabilities, capacities and expertise.
Next week’s blog will look at a new way to identify perfect prospects.
President, Revenue IQ