Managing to win customers?

Whether you are in the private or public sectors the management of the process through which you win customers is a key ingredient for success in today’s hard pressed world.  You might be a small business owner, a general manager or the manager of a specialist function in a larger organisation – surviving in the 2010s may well be a matter of consistently adding new customers either internally or externally.

What are the essential planning, organising, leading and controlling issues for the successful management of customer acquisition?

Planning:

  • What targets have you set for winning customers?  Without clear goals you are less likely to succeed;
  • How are new customers targeted and selected?  Is this a random approach or is it based on sound data and decision making?
  • Who do you involve in the planning process?  Key sales staff need to be involved in the planning of customer acquisition to ensure that they will be motivated by the plans that are set.

Organising:

  • Customer identification, customer research, initial contact and closing sales – are these tasks allocated clearly along with the required standards of performance?
  • Common sales tasks – are these grouped together effectively, for example, what is the relationship between marketing and sales?
  • What authority and responsibilities have you delegated for winning new customers – do staff have sufficient freedom to act to achieve the targets?
  • Are the required resources in place to enable success, for example, customer information, marketing budgets, marketing support materials and most importantly time?

Leading:

  • The targets you have set or agreed with people – are these motivating and realistic?  If the target is seen as unattainable it will do more harm than good.  A good rule of thumb is to set targets that 70% of people should be able to achieve;
  • What is your recognition and reward approach?  Is superior performance rewarded in a way that is seen as fair by staff?  What do you do personally to recognise and reward achievement?
  • Are people’s responsibility levels increased in line with achievement and capability?  To keep motivation levels high you need to consider raising responsibility levels wherever possible.

Controlling:

  • Which quality standards are you measuring – for example, any customer at any price is probably not what you want?
  • What are the essential financial measurements; marketing budget use, cost of sales, agreed prices …?
  • Who are your best performers and what is it that they do that makes the difference between success and failure?

Whether you do it yourself or manage those that do, winning customers consistently is an essential management task in the 2010s as it is without doubt far more of a challenge in many sectors than it has been for a long time.

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