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Sales Prospecting

How to Recognise Which Customers Are Bad for Business

How to avoid the effects of a bad customer.

Joe Worth

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Q: How can I identify the customers I should shed- the ones who suck up my time and energy in exchange for meagre returns?

A: Most business owners know in their guts that a good chunk of customers are not profitable. But in a universe in which it’s drummed into us that the customer is always right, it amounts to heresy to admit that a customer may, in fact, be wrong and should go.

It’s difficult to send any potential revenue packing, but culling the client list is worth it – it frees up resources to take better care of your best customers.

The Pareto principle, more commonly known as “the 80-20 rule,” can be applied to customer profitability. In short, it means that 20 percent of your customers likely provide 80 percent of your profits. Inversely, it says that 20 percent of your customers may be sucking up an astounding 80 percent of your direct customer costs.

The problem is that many small-business owners don’t have the tools they need to determine if one unprofitable client is worth nurturing for a big payday down the road, or if they should say, “Sorry, I can no longer work with you,” and move on. That’s why I’m here to help.

Analyse Profit By Customer

Profit equals revenue minus costs. Simple, right? To analyse customer profitability, we must assign revenue and costs to each customer. For those of you with thousands of customers, you’ll want to put them into groups.

For example, a restaurant could divvy up its patrons among the breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds; a building-supply house could group retail and wholesale customers separately.

Revenue is usually pretty easy to pull, since accounting systems can match each sale or invoice to a specific customer. Costs, however, are trickier to determine. Without burying you in the arcane world of cost accounting, I’ll lay out a simple yet effective approach.

Assign the costs of goods sold plus the direct costs of acquiring (marketing), serving (your staff’s time) and retaining (follow-up) customers to an individual or customer group.

Keep in mind that for this exercise, overhead costs are not assigned to customers. But even without including overhead, you’ll have enough information to make good decisions.

The actual number-crunching is, unfortunately, not trivial. You may need the help of an experienced analyst, controller or CFO to do the work or to set up and train your staff to periodically run the numbers themselves.

I often find that a company’s chart of accounts needs to be tweaked to get costs into the right “buckets” to make the profit analysis correct and straightforward.

The Numbers Game

With a revenue-cost number attached to each customer, you can easily identify those who are ruinously unprofitable. And now you have a choice: You can work to make them profitable- i.e., raise their prices or cut the costs associated with serving them – or get rid of them.

On the flip side, you’ve also identified customers that make up the majority of your profits. Don’t just use that information to send them a nice thank-you note; consider exactly what it is that makes them profitable.

Can you turn other customers into better ones? How can you find new customers like the most profitable ones you already have? And what do you need to do to keep them?

After running through this exercise the first time, make it a regular task (quarterly is a good frequency to shoot for). This way you can catch problems before they seriously affect your business; for example, a longtime great customer who suddenly turns into an unprofitable one. That’s one client you want to nurture, not cut.

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Joe Worth, Vice president of operations and partner at B2B CFO, has been a CFO for several public and privately held companies.

Sales Prospecting

7 Steps To Master The 80/20 Revenue Model

Imagine a world where 80% of your revenue came from 20% of your customers. Now what will it take to make it your reality?

Emma Donovan

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80-20-business-model

We are often so focused on new leads that we forget to master the art of upselling and cross-selling. To generate more income from existing customers you need to focus on quality over quantity, and be strategic in your approach. Here are seven steps to help you on your way.

Understand what you want to achieve

When you upsell, you encourage customers to buy a higher-end product or service than the one in question – such as an airplane seat with more leg room. Whereas cross-selling tempts customers to buy related products that satisfy additional, complementary needs. A simple example is when you check out of an online store and the shop tempts you to buy similar or complementary products that you suddenly just can’t live without!

Tip: Identify which one makes sense in your business, and what the additional or complementary offering will be.

Nurture relationships

Long-standing relationships and loyal clients are worth their weight in gold. Make sure they know they will remain a priority, even when you are busy with bigger or more profitable projects.

Constantly over-deliver and exceed expectations. Make yourself ‘irreplaceable’. 

Related: This Is What Bevan Ducasse Did When He Realised wiGroup’s Revenue Model Wasn’t Working

Provide solutions

Don’t presume you know what your customers want or need – do your homework and ask them. You need to understand their hopes, dreams, fears and challenges. Three simple ways to do this are to:

  • set up regular one-on-one calls
  • catch up over coffee
  • or email them a quick survey to complete.

Add real value

Ask yourself, ‘how can I help this client achieve their goals or overcome this challenge?’ You need to find ways to add real value to make the additional expense worthwhile. Also make sure your pricing is fair and competitive, without selling yourself short.

For example, one of the products we cross-sell at Yellow Door is video content. It’s a key part of a holistic marketing strategy and is a great way to bolster content for launches, social media and newsletters.

Paint a picture

To excel at upselling and cross-selling, you need to help customers visualise the value they will get from the higher-priced item. Whether it’s a 30-second video, an infographic, or a well worded email – take the time to explain not only what the product is, but how it will benefit them or their business.

Incentivise

Offering a reward or incentive can increase your upsell or cross-sell conversion rate. For example, offer free shipping or a discount if the client purchases two or more products or services.

Related: Bob Skinstad On Making An Impact With The 80/20 Principle

Create capacity

Ensure your team has the expertise and capacity to deliver the relevant service or product at the right standard. Alternatively, find a non-competing service provider to complement your offering and agree on a referral or commission structure. This way you can expand your offering without increasing your overheads.

The key to success is to understand what your customers value and then respond with products, services or features that meet those needs.

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Sales Prospecting

Empower Your Team To Make More Sales

The answer is not simple. However Leadify’s CEO, Grant Fleming shares several strategies that can help.

Grant Fleming

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Much like the business cliché that your company is only as strong as its people, in marketing, behind every successful marketing campaign there is an empowered team. But how do you help your team increase their sales?

The answer is not simple. However Leadify’s CEO, Grant Fleming shares several strategies that can help:

1. Become clever at dealing with data

It is essential that teams have the right platform at their disposal to reach the agreed-to goals. Teams also need to become more adept at dealing with data to learn about their customers. Teams should segment data, send marketing messages and receive instant feedback to learn from. They should also optimise their messages and dig into the demographics of their audience.

2. Curate your audience

The above enables teams to curate, and continuously engage with their audience. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is focusing their communication to a base, instead of cultivating an audience through learning from insights and feedback. This doesn’t foster an incentive to learn anything from one week or one campaign to the next. Teams end up sending out an email/SMS blast one week after another, with the same results.

Related: What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

3. Market more smartly

Rather than marketing ‘harder’, teams should be marketing smarter. There are a few ways to do this. Given teams have the appropriate automated marketing tools at their disposal, they can automate certain repetitive activities so that they continue to learn while the system executes.

Teams are also best served by breaking down their goals into measurable insights and build logical marketing lists (data lists) rather than lumping everything into one list. Often, splitting data by its original source works well, but so does sectioning lists according to category.

Consider using “Remarketing” for the direct marketing space too. This is similar to AdWords marketing, where teams ‘slice and dice’ their data, and insights about engaged audiences are retargeted using the platform.

The other options is “Long Run” campaigns. Here a campaign is live over a longer period of time, essentially establishing a level of cadence for direct marketing efforts. 

4. Do lean marketing

To empower your team, adopt a lean marketing process. This sees teams marketing in small batches, sending e.g. 2000 SMSs, reviewing the results, then another 2000, and then tweaking the marketing message if needed.

By sending five different marketing messages, your marketing teams will be able to whittle down to the top two that returned the best results, and then scale them up.

This, rather than just sending a million SMSs (for example) to your entire database, is a lean marketing approach that can help your team incrementally improve their efforts for an optimal return.

Related: What You Need To Know About The Lean Start-up Model

5. Value testing and metrics

Both testing and metrics are critical to helping your marketing team become more successful, with A/B testing in particular critical for learning.

When you tweak campaigns, resist the urge to make larger changes; these make it difficult to measure results. Rather do small-batch testing, even if it is just from your newsletters. Try and bleed the marketing messages out over a logical timeframe – don’t just blast out to the entire list in one go.

Regarding metrics, concentrate not only on the number of messages sent, but clicks and click-through rates as well as conversions, even if the latter happens down the line. Understanding these metrics across demographics is equally important, as this allows you to curate audiences that you can personalise marketing to.

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Sales Prospecting

3 Ways You Should Use Data Science To Skyrocket Sales

Sales business is getting harder and more competitive day after day. Both physical retail and e-commerce offer a wide variety of brands and products, which makes it more difficult for an average sales person to seal the deal with potential customers.

Olivia Ryan

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Data Science

Sales professionals have to be clever and extremely analytical before even approaching their clients. That’s why they use data science to skyrocket business. Data science is a contemporary statistical model which seeks to provide meaningful information from large amounts of complex data.

According to the study, this type of business analytics is expected to generate almost USD170 billion in 2018. If you want to keep the business stable and highly profitable, you should consider embracing data science in everyday work. This post will show you 3 ways to do it successfully.

Prospect Analysis

Data science is based on artificial intelligence that has enough analytical power to give you remarkable insights into the traits of all prospects. Using this tool, you can personalise sales negotiations so as to match the exact needs of each client individually.

For example, data science will tell you the basic demographic features like age, gender, and location. But it goes beyond that and reveals income levels, professional titles, or personal interests based on online searches. All these inputs allow you to customise offers according to client’s preferences.

At the same time, you can prioritise prospects based on company size, predicted revenue, long-term potential, industry influence, or any other feature you might consider relevant to your business. This way, you can dedicate more time to the more important prospects and increase profitability just because you know who to talk to first.

Upselling

It’s much simpler to sell products to existing customers than to attract new buyers. Data science can help you to upsell products and increase the profit using the base of loyal clients.

Related: What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

The system is simple – data science analyses the purchasing history and the preferences of every customer and suggests complementary products. That way, you make sure that your upselling suggestions stay relevant, which not only reduces bounce rates but also strengthens the base of loyal clients.

Create Ambitious Sales Quotas

Creating sales quotas has never been an easy job. Most companies are selling dozens of products in many cities, regions, or even countries, which makes it difficult for sales managers to manually determine ambitious but realistic quotas for their agents.

It’s actually one of the biggest reasons why managers underperform and fail to meet company requirements. However, data science makes this task a lot easier because it can automatically conduct the research and decide how much is enough for every sales representative in your team.

Company Aussie Writings uses data science to make sales forecasts and here’s what they say about it: “The new business analytics model goes through huge volumes of data within minutes, detect sales trends, and givesus a good plan for each agent, product, or region. With such powerful tool at our disposal, we don’t put too much pressure on sales representatives, but we also don’t have to worry about underachievement.”

The benefits of data science

Data science helps businesses to analyse potential clients more comprehensively and increases the odds of keeping sales high in the long run. It’s a perfect model for entrepreneurs who want to stay competitive in the abundance of brands, products, and services.

Related: Get Those Quotas Moving (Upward!) In 2018! 5 Things Your Salespeople Can Do

In this post, we showed you 3 ways you should use data science to skyrocket sales. Which tip could give your company the biggest boost? Let us know in comments and don’t hesitate to ask us if you need any additional information about this topic.

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