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Strategic Planning: Why Do Customers Buy From You?

Ideally, as you develop your company’s strategic plan, you’re performing some market research and asking your current customers why they use your services. But you also likely have a general sense of what it is that drives people to buy from you. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine what’s bringing customers through your door:

  • How do we help our customers? What need do we meet?

  • Are our clients referring our business? Why or why not?

  • If we’re being referred, what part of our business do our customers talk about?

  • What area of our business is growing? What product or service line sees the most action in terms of sales?

Even better than answering these questions yourself is asking your customers to answer the questions. Pick your top ten accounts and ask them to respond to a customer questionnaire. Anonymous responses yield the best results, so ask a colleague or an intern to make the calls on your behalf. Similar responses from different individuals guide the development of your competitive advantage.

Now that you’ve asked everyone who’s important to your business to define your competitive advantage, summarize the findings and pinpoint your areas of uniqueness. Look at the responses to the questionnaires from your employees and customers as well as your own answers to the questions.

In your strategy notebook, capture the common themes or ideas from your customers, your employees, and yourself. Use a separate page for each one of these perspectives. Collect these thoughts from each employee and customer questionnaires. Use this data to develop your own competitive advantage.

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