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Determine the effectiveness of Your Sales Efforts - 25 Crucial Questions You Should Be Asking (Part 3 of 6)

What are Your Customers Telling You….or Not Telling You? Today we are going to dive into the questions to ask that will give you key intelligence regarding the very foundation of your business…YOUR CUSTOMERS! Here are the essential questions to ask:

  1. How long do your customers stay with you on average? If you sell a product or service with a repeatable purchase history then you will need to know this information. This will allow you to spot trends in your customer loyalty programs. Should you change your programs or are customers leaving you quicker than they were a few years ago? Most businesses will generate 50-70% of their yearly revenue from their existing customers. Increasing customer retention is one of the fastest ways to grow existing revenue. Additionally, it is much more cost effective to retain your customer base then it is to find new customers.
  2. Why do customers stop buying from you? Simply ask them! It’s amazing to me how many businesses do not track this information. The answer to this question will provide you insight into the core reasons why your customers leave. A band-aid, fix-it approach is not the solution and maybe you’ve used this method far too many times which is why you are loosing customers. Even if the reason is not your fault, then at least you gain a better understanding of why you lost a customer. Perhaps their top leadership changed and you need to resell the account.
  3. What have you done to gain correct information on the following:a. Who’s buying your products and services? b. Why they’re buying? c. Who’s making the purchase decision? d. How effective is your packaging? e. What is your “Wow” factor? All of these questions go together because they are designed to help you with your external/internal marketing efforts. For example, if 90% of your products and services are being bought by CFO’s in mid-size organizations then you have defined your key market. You may want to craft a very targeted and specific message to this group of decision makers. Knowing why they buy provides insight into the trigger events that determine if someone is truly a qualified prospect. Even a minor detail dealing with how you package your product and the very color and contents of the outside packaging can determine a rise or fall in sales. Take the time to review these key questions to see where adjustments may be needed.
  4. What are your customers really saying about you and your organization? Hopefully, they are saying good things. In today’s world of online social-media outlets your customers are going to talk about you. Be aware of what they are really saying. Customers will talk to each other and for your sake that conversation needs to be a positive one. We live in a fast paced world where feedback is instant. Find out where your customers are talking and have a presence there.

Simply taking the time to go through these questions is the first step. The answers will lead you to add some extra meat to your overall strategy moving into 2010. I’m always amazed at how many organizations tell me they have never taken the time to answer these questions. The questions posed in the first 3 parts have focused on an external perspective. In part 4 we will look at questions that take an inward look at your organization by focusing on the product and services you offer. Submitted by: Tony Smith