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Pursuing High-Quality Customers

Every salesperson has his share of high-maintenance customers. The expense and aggravation of keeping them satisfied isn't worth the revenue they generate. Shedding yourself of the deadweights and removing these particular limitations to your upside is a "simple" three-step process:

1. Fire your worst customers.

2. Retain your best customers.

3. Find more best customers.

Identifying the qualities of good customers

The definition of best customer is up to you. In the business world, "best customer" usually means "most profitable customer," but profitability can be a little tough to pin down. To create your list of credentials for a best customer, consider the following traits:

  • Places you first: When the customer thinks of a product or service you offer, she thinks of you first.
  • Pays a fair price: Customers who value what you offer are willing to pay the going rate. Those who don't value what you have to offer constantly low-ball you on price.
  • Challenges you: When customers constantly raise the bar, requiring you to expand your knowledge of improve your skills, they're improving your business.
  • Allows you to do what you do well: Customers should know your business sufficiently to ask you to perform in areas where you excel rather than pushing you into areas outside your realm of expertise.
  • Exposes you to new opportunities: Your best customers are collaborators with whom you develop mutually beneficial relationships. These customers steer business your way and may even offer some cross-marketing opportunities.

Discovering more best customers

When you have a favorite dessert, you often want more of it. You want to know the ingredients and how the chef prepared it so you can make it yourself and have it whenever you want. In sales, you want more customers like your best customer, so single out your best customer and then find out all the ingredients that make that customer your best:

  • Who your customer is: Who are you really selling to, the end user or a middleman? (In some cases, this isn't as obvious as you may think.) Once you've identified your customer, study the demographic — age, sex, race or ethnicity, geographical location, and so on. Jot down anything else you can think of, particularly in respect to what that customer needs most to be successful.
  • What your customer does: Get to know what your customer does for a living, where she hangs out after work, other products she buys, and so on. Don't become a stalker, but gather as much information about the customer you can, through normal conversations and correspondence, to draw a detailed customer portrait.

Brainstorm a list of the seven top sources for more customers who are like your best customer. Think in terms of what you need to do to get more customers like this. And remember, getting more clients like your best clients often requires the assistance of your best clients. Don't underestimate the value of your best past clients for referrals.

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