Not all Customers are created equal. Some are good, some are bad. Just because they hand over their money to you doesn’t necessarily make them them the customer you want.
Less-than-ideal Customers can take a lot of time and effort to market and sell to; they can be reluctant to buy; they complain about the price and make you feel guilty for charging what you do; they are slow to pay; they complain about the product or service; you don’t like dealing with them. You have Customers like this in your sales funnel. So do I. Every business does.
Ideal Customers, on the other hand, love your business; they move through your sales funnel very quickly; they buy from you happily (preferably more than once); and they tell their friends about you. You have customers like this in your sales funnel. So do I. Every business does.
There’s a tendency among businesses to lump all Customers in together, simply because they’re Customers and each one has handed over their money. But that’s not an ideal business practice. Less-than-ideal Customers cost a lot of money to sell to and they are often barely profitable because it takes so much time to get them to buy and they require a lot of hand-holding afterward. Ideal customers are more profitable: They enter your sales funnel quickly, they move through your sales funnel quickly, they don’t try to grind down your prices, they don’t require very much hand-holding.
Your business can be more profitable without increasing how much marketing and sales you do. All you need to do is profile your Customers and then tweak your marketing to target the ideal Customers.
Here’s how to do that:
GROUP YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS
In order to best serve the sales funnel contacts who will turn into preferred Customers, look at your existing Customers and group them together.
Keep the groups broad and simple at first; just to do an initial sweep. Rank each Customer quickly and subjectively in each of the following categories:
- Speed through your sales funnel: Were they fast or slow through your sales funnel?
- Ease of sales effort: Did they require little effort or a lot of effort as they moved through your sales funnel?
- Amount of money they spent: Did they spend a lot or a little once they became Customers?
- Number of times they’ve bought from you: Have they bought from you several times or only once?
- Whether they’ve told others about you: Are you aware of anyone else they’ve told about your services?
From this, you should have 3 groups — one group of superstar customers (mostly “good” results in the above list), one group of less-than-ideal customers (mostly “poor” results in the above list), and a large group of average customers (a mix of “good” and “poor”).
PROFILE YOUR CUSTOMER-GROUPS
Now look at each of these three groups and figure out what is common among them, and more importantly, what traits one group shares that is not shared by another group.
It could include any number of factors, although here are the types of traits I find to be a useful stating point:
- Size of business
- Length of time in business
- Level of success in business
- Clarity of purpose, products, and benefits
OPTIMIZE YOUR SALES FUNNEL
Now it’s time to optimize your sales funnel to maximize your opportunities with your ideal customers and to minimize the work you do with your less-than-ideal customers. (As for the middle-of-the-road Customers, you want to try not to alienate them but you do want to work toward replacing them with ideal Customers).
Review all of your marketing efforts and sales efforts in each stage of your sales funnel and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it resonate with that group of ideal Customers?
- Are you clearly writing for them (and are you clearly NOT writing for the less-than-ideal group?)
- Does the content appear in the places where your newly refined target market is looking?
- Do you address the objections that your newly refined target market is facing?
You may not want to completely get rid of the Customers who you are defining as “less-than-ideal”. After all, they are paying customers and it’s possible that by grouping your Customers together, you might accidentally throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. However, by reviewing your sales funnel carefully and making changes to focus on a newly refined target group, you might be so busy counting new-found profit that you won’t even notice those less-than-ideal Customers are missing.