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Customer Acquisition Objectives For Attracting Profitable Business-To-Business Customers

Show me a sales or marketing manager who is happy with the customers they have, and you've showed me someone who is about to lose their job.  No matter how many customers you have, customer acquisition is a top priority for business-to-business organizations who want to grow.  What do your customer acquisition objectives need to be to attract profitable business-to-business customers?

  1. Cultivate your top ten percent customer. There is no customer like your most profitable customer, so an objective for your customer acquisition strategy is to find more like him or her. Use a "Profitable Customer Profile" to determine which characteristics identify profitable customers early in your lead funnel. Look to develop a sequential approach for cultivating your "top ten percent" customers to enhance your portfolio of buyers.
  2. Use clear profit measures. Before you zero in on your more profitable customers, your customer acquisition strategy must have a clear definition of profit. Do you measure profit against transactional gains, customer lifetime value, or even revenue generated over a fixed period? Each of these measures means something different, so before you get started, establish a clear and meaningful measure of profits. Work closely with your accounting department on this, but don't let them dictate long-term strategy without looking at all the facts.
  3. Know your customer lifetime value. What is the total dollar profit of a customer from their first purchase to their last? When you know this number, you understand how much you can spend on new customers. The customer lifetime value benchmark identifies above and below par producers while planning for future cash flow. Ideally, your objective is to grow this number each year by cultivating your most profitable customers.
  4. Generate leads for profits. Instead of just seeing how many leads you can produce, generate leads with profits in mind. This requires you to lower your overall cost per lead, track profits per sale, and then feed this information back into your lead generation strategy. By tracking lead sources against monetary measures, you'll establish which marketing works and which does not; use this information to focus on the most profitable leads first.
  5. Use qualifying questions to focus efforts. Most companies collect business cards, follow up, and then eventually give up before getting anywhere near a sale. Instead, use questions to qualify a prospects position in your lead funnel. These questions identify current opportunities, place a purchase on a specific time line, and determine exactly what customers want to buy.
  6. Seek low cost acquisition of customers. It's your objective to gain new customers at the lowest cost possible, but that doesn't mean you should spend as little as possible. A low cost acquisition is more a ratio of cost verse potential gain. Even if you have to pay more up front for a lead that closes today, you could be spending less than those unqualified prospects you have to wrestle for months to close. Knowing where to find "low-cost" leads with a high potential gain reinforces the customer acquisition objective of generating leads for profits.
  7. Know about and document best practices. There is something your top sales person does that if your other sales people knew about would double your production. An objective of a successful customer acquisition program is to measure what works and what doesn't -- guessing doesn't pay the bills, especially when measurements can be so easy with a well-designed sales funnel. What really works today to acquire new customers?
  8. Focus first on customer retention marketing. After all the effort you put into getting a customer, why do so many business-to-business organizations neglecting and abusing the customers they have? It's more important to earn a customer than it is to make a sale. Focus everything about your customer acquisition program on making "customers," not just "sales." Repeat customers are the foundation of any success in business.

Even with each of these objectives addressed, you profit most when you remember that not all customers are equal. Regularly work through your existing customer lists, help customers buy more, help customers be more profitable, but most importantly give customers a reason to buy from you again.

Customer acquisition is meaningless if you can't keep most of the profitable customers you have.

/ cultivate-topten | customer-retention /

By Justin Hitt at October 13, 2006 11:26 AM  Subscribe in a reader


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The two biggest customer acquisition objectives most often abused by sales and marketing professionals. [Read More]

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» Customer Acquisition Objectives Misdirected from Ask Justin Hitt Blog
The two biggest customer acquisition objectives most often abused by sales and marketing professionals. [Read More]

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