By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc.
“If we don’t follow-up this investment in SEO, with long-term personal, collaborative customer contact --- to learn our customers’ needs, wants, and goals, I’m wasting my time, my money…and my future…”…..Frustrated Client In the Midst of Developing an “Inside Sales Team”
Most readers of this column have a “Customer Profile” software….of some design. That Customer Profile software --- is for supplier’s customer contact personnel --- to learn…and record --- “Important Customer Information” …….including…. what each Customer/Buyer wants, needs, and doesn’t want.
Question: What constitutes “Important Customer Information”…?
Answer: Whatever moves is important to your Customer….and moves that supplier away from….. “Low Price Wins”.
The following Questions should get you started…. with your Customer Contact Team…for developing your Customer Profile….Note: Not all these Questions are applicable for each Customer….however, my experience is….most are:
- Goals and objectives for the buyer’s company…?
- Goals and objectives for the department we’re talking to,,,?
- What needs to be improved --- from suppliers….?
- What have other suppliers done (I don’t need names of those suppliers….. unless you want to give them to me)….that was disruptive…?
- What qualities do you admire most in your best suppliers…?
- Would you be willing to send us sample(s) of product, that was unacceptable to you…that we could then review, and discuss…?
- Do you have a “formal evaluation system”.. of your suppliers….?
- Who are your key assistants names….we may talk to if you are not available? (Are there names we should not talk to, if you are not there…?)
- May I have your personal contact information, should we need to contact you on a weekend, holiday, or on our night shift…?
- Do you want to know in advance when to expect a Proof to review, so you can coordinate the Proof review, and return it to us more quickly, to insure your on-time delivery.
- Do you want to know in advance when to expect delivery, and is there a time or day delivery should not occur?
- Do you have special packing and labeling instructions?
- Are there shippers you would prefer we use, not use…?
- Have you ever toured a commercial printing plant? Are you ever in our area, so that you could tour our operation…we’re constantly improving and expanding what we can produce…? (You could also meet the folks you talk to on the phone…?)
- Do you ever have an interest in negotiating a price, where we’re close, but not quite within your budget…?
- Do you like for us to follow-up with an email --- to make sure you received our quote…?
- Do you want Samples sent to your office, with any special instructions…?
- Do you have a preferred “Invoice Format”…? Do you prefer an electronic Invoice…to speed-up your workflow…and processing?
- We have an “Eye Color-Balance Test” many of our customers enjoy taking…any interest…?
- Do you have an interest in discussing our “Archiving your graphic and text images, for making them-- and important correspondence --- available to your other locations (e.g., dealers, offices, divisions)”, for improving your ability to access those images, improving communications, and moving those images from an “expense” to an “asset” --- on your balance sheet?”
- Any interest in a “Long-Term Agreement”, to save you time, get more accomplished, and improve your ability to “budget” your costs…?
- Would you be interested in sending us Samples of your projects, for our production and proofreaders to review, at no additional cost to you, for potential in identifying needed edits, or cost savings…?
- Does your organization attend Trade Shows --- as an exhibitor…?
- Does your organization need additional storage or warehousing space?
- Do you conduct Press Checks? About how often…? If yes, any particulars you like, or don’t like about Press Checks?
- Days and conditions your company is closed --- for holidays, bad weather, company vacations, etc.
- Who are your primary competitors…? What distinguishes your company from them?
- What publications re. your industry do you try to read regularly?
- How do you stay current about your industry’s technologies, government regulations, and innovations…?
- If we supplied you with a yearly summary of your purchases, as well as what we are capable of producing or supplying, would that assist your budgeting process…?
- If we see an opportunity to cut costs, or save money, or reduce your time on a project, what’s the best way to bring that subject or opportunity forward…?
- Who’s your Supervisor --- might I ever have the opportunity to be introduced to her/him…?
- Who else in your company should receive our Newsletter, announcements, Case Studies, and invitations to our Educational Programs…..?
- Is there a “best time” for me to “return a call”…. Or…. “not to return a call?”
- Does your company support any particular charitable organizations?
- Do you know the “anniversary date” of your first order with us?
- Is there anything in “graphic communications” you’d like to know more about?
- Does your organization use “Cross-Media Communications” for promotions…?
- Does your organization use “Packaging” for… “increasing response rates to your promotions….?” (Why?....Because “all packages get opened…!”)
- Does your Marketing Department, or your Agency….use “Variable Imaging” ….to increase Response Rates….?
Applications – Opportunities… to Use Customer Information….?
- Quote Letters
- Day-to-Day Customer Discussions…and Support
- Job Ticket Instructions….discussions with Production
- Major Proposals
- Periodic Business Reviews
I plan to use what I learn (a) in my Quote Letters, and (b) day-to-day discussions --- for (c)….reducing …“Pricing Pressures”.
I plan to…. “Win…. more profitable work…!”
I plan to write…. more …“Thank You Notes”….!
I plan to do a better job of communicating to my Production Team, and a better job of communicating…..to my Customer/Buyer.
I plan to….” Win….more profitable work…!”
“People don’t know what they want…..until we show them”…..Steve Jobs