By Krishna R.K, Founder & CEO, BlueTree Consultancy
Headquartered in Bengaluru, this global IT product company develops innovative products in the area of workforce optimization and management with unparalleled experience and comprehensive technical capabilities.
The fact that half the small businesses fail within first 5 years of their inception doesn’t come as a striking surprise these days. It is not an easy task to get the word out about your company and get the customer’s interest, especially in a growing economy like India. Growing the customer base is something every entrepreneur relentlessly works towards, every day. While acquiring a new customer is hard, it is only half the battle. Earning those customers' trust and to multiply the customer base is what defines the momentum of growth for any company.
Here is a 5 point agenda which yields greater results in multiplying their customer base:
1. Be Dynamic – Be Agile
B2B business segment is undergoing a transformational change. Customer preferences and attitudes keep evolving and to be successful in this ever changing business environment, an entrepreneur needs to be extremely dynamic in product development to be successful. Almost all startups begin with an idea for a product that they think everyone needs. Then, they spend months, sometimes years, perfecting that product without ever showing the product, even in a very elementary form, to the prospective customer. When they ultimately take it to the customers, it may not be relevant, and the business fails. Segmenting your customer and understanding the dynamic needs of your customer is the key to success. The product needs to be highly configurable and needs to deliver as per the needs of the particular business segment with a quick turnaround time. Understanding the changing customer needs and addressing it quickly and dynamically will fetch more customer opportunities.
2. Genuinely Communicate
Effective communication with your customers is the key to avoid a lot of problems in any business. Like I already said, if you acquired a new customer, it’s only half the battle won. For the relationship to grow, you need to genuinely interact with the customer, seek his feedback and ensure he is comfortable with your product or service. Keep the customer informed on any development involving them, be it a technical problem, outage or a scheduled update. Acknowledge any request coming from the customer, even if you will not be able to attend to it immediately. Effectively communicate. With time, your customers build up a relationship with your company and consequently develop a sense of loyalty. This will help your customer to become the brand ambassador of your product. This has two benefits – a) He will be a great referral for your company as every prospect will want to speak to your existing customer. b) He will refer you product or service to his network.
3. Sell by Value, Sell by Emotion
It doesn’t matter how good your product is if your prospect doesn’t know the value of it. It is crucial to connect with the customer emotionally or personally and get into their minds and stay there. Emotions make a great difference, because as humans, we love to relate. When you give your audience a compelling pitch and sell the value that none of your competitors have to offer, it will definitely capture the attention and imagination of your prospect, and they will definitely incline towards you and spread a positive word about your product. I am sure you understand how valuable this is to multiply your customer base.
4. Sell outcomes, Not Products
Over the past decades, B2C markets have evolved to sell outcomes and not just products. Today, we see shoe manufactures selling the idea of physical well-being and not just a shoe. Similarly, it is important for B2B markets to look for outcomes. Be it B2C or B2B, both involve human interaction, and human beings look for outcome in whatever they buy.
But, becoming an outcome-centric B2B organization isn’t an easy task. The entrepreneur needs to conduct a research on a continuous basis on the target market segment. This helps you design the outcome driven functions for the product. Product features and/or benefits may be used to substantiate and support the outcome, but your outcome is always something that your segmented buyer can dream of. Outcome based selling is the key strategy to multiply your customer base. It takes time, but you can master it!
5. Decision Makers - Target Them
Decision makers are the ones, who take a call on what is needed and what is not’. Targeting the right set of people increases the chances of making the sale quickly; more importantly, decision makers in strategic positions can understand the value of your product quickly. It’s very important that you ‘Target the highest level person who will directly benefit from the value you can offer’. For example, if you are selling strategic HR solution, you probably need to call on the head of HR, if you are selling strategic facility solution, or a supplemental facility management solution, like visitor management (Happy Visitor) then the appropriate decision-makers are likely the facility managers or admin managers who will benefit from your product and you probably need to call on the head of admin or facility. Please note that the ‘right’ person will vary greatly depending on the size of the company you are targeting. Target a large employer and you may have to deal with the CFO and/or COO, department heads, and/or HR. Target small companies and the CEO should be on your list.