Congratulations! You launched your new business and customers are buying your product. Customers are the source of all the cash that flows into your business. Cash flow and profits allow you to plow back much needed investments that fuel growth. If you need to raise capital to boost your growth plans, a large list of happy customers is an extremely valuable asset. Place a high priority on servicing your existing customers to retain their support as you sell your product to continue to grow.
Measuring your business performance must always start with your customers. This is not reading a quarterly or even monthly report. Many things can (and likely will) go wrong between reviews. Build a disciplined focus on customer performance into the processes and culture of your business.
Monitor several key customer performance indicators every day:
Customers at risk.
Since existing customers are the lifeblood of your business, always start there. In addition to regular income, you need these customers to be good references to help you gain new customer relationships. Furthermore, the cost of acquiring a new customer can be several times the cost of selling additional products to an existing customer. Your focus must be on the business or technical issue, the solutions needed and the plan of action to implement to resolve them. Avoid assigning blame to an individual in your company and using them as a scapegoat. That distraction will not build customer’s confidence in you.
Celebrate each new signed sales contract, but note that your work in securing that customer’s business has just begun. Understand the status of the service delivery, shipment, project management, and related processes to convert the relationship from a new sale to a happy customer. If the new customer relationship starts well, you will dramatically increase your chances for a long-lasting profitable relationship. You will also gain a solid reference to help accelerate sales growth. Ask them why they chose you over other options to help sharpen your sales and service focus.
Learn as much as you can about the reasons the prospect chose a competing solution. This vital information helps you to adjust your sales approach, enhance your product offering and to adjust your business model, as appropriate. This will improve your competitive position when dealing with such competitors and similarly situated customers in the future.
As you grow and depend more heavily on business development and sales resources to acquire more customers, make sure you diligently monitor the sales pipeline and new prospect list. This pipeline of new prospective customers is the fuel for growth into your company. Some prospects may require direct executive, which is you, engagement, specific non-standard terms, or other special attention. Plan specific actions to maximize your opportunity to close the sale.
Monitor trends and maintain a routine focus on sales and service performance related to pricing pressures, sales and operational costs, prospect pipeline trends, marketing and promotions effectiveness and customer retention and satisfaction. Include this analysis in your regular business operations reviews to keep your team and operations focused on actions that affect customer acquisition and relationships.