As a business owner, your most valuable asset is not your product, service, talent, or skill. It is the group of people who are willing to pay you for your product, service, talent, or skill. We call those people customers. Without customers, you don’t have a business…you have a hobby. So, you should do everything in your power to ensure that the customers you have are served well, feel satisfied with their decision to work with you, and are delighted to come back again and again.
How do you do that? Well, it’s actually not by creating a stellar service. It’s not by developing the most innovative product. It’s not by becoming a rock-star talent that everyone wants to work with. If you want to ensure that you have the right customers – ones that will help you grow your business more each year – you need to QUALIFY them before they become customers.
“Uh…Hey Joel, we don’t get to CHOOSE our customers.” Well, skeptical bystander…that’s actually not true! There are a number of factors that contribute to who becomes your customer. In fact, the way you position your brand, the values you claim, and the category you sell in all contribute to building your eventual customer. So, you need to be sure you’re building a customer base you can be proud of. Here’s a quick example.
Ever been to McDonald’s? Of course you have. Everyone has (even though no one wants to admit it). It seems like every time I dare to venture inside a McDonald’s, I see the same scene playing out. There is a totally belligerent, and more than mildly outraged, customer standing over the counter trading snarky comments with a teenage employee who is just trying to get them to go away. Usually, this is because they didn’t get that extra slice of cheese on their McDouble, like they asked for (what an outrage).
This scene is so predictable, it cracks me up. Why? Because this is the customer McDonald’s has chosen to create. They have been so dedicated to the idea of food that is SUPER fast and SUPER cheap that they have taught their customers to expect things NOW and for basically NOTHING! Quality went out the window years ago, and now they have an army of impatient customers losing their minds when they don’t have a meal in front of them 15 seconds after they order it (exactly as they ordered it). See what I mean?
Whether you realize it or not, the way you price, present, and promote your product or service will determine the type customers your attract. If you build a reputation on being the cheapest, don’t be surprised when you lose customers over necessary price increases. If you train your clientele to expect responses from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, don’t be surprised when your customers freak out while you’re on vacation.
So, before you try to sell ANYTHING, make sure you’re qualifying your customers. Be intentional about attracting customers that you will enjoy working with. Customers that truly appreciate the value you are providing to them, and who understand that they are better for having done business with you, are the customers you want.
CHALLENGE: Write down on paper who your ideal customer is. Try to describe them with as much detail as possible. Only after you’ve able to recognize them will you be able to properly pursue and earn their business.