I spoke to a prospective client last week, and it reminded me of many of the conversations I’ve had with hundreds of CEOs and Presidents over the past 10+ years.
Having worked with many mid-market private and public companies, I’ve often realized that almost every company faces at least one (and usually all three) of the following problems:
- A disconnect between the expectations of the sales team and the executive team.
- Lack of customer loyalty / high client attrition rates
- Lack of process and structure around sales, marketing, customer service, and retention
If you struggle with all three, they typically create an environment where your salespeople push for lower prices as the only way to compete, your marketing/sales/service departments are continually pointing the finger at each other, and where there is no way for you to predict the sales growth rate accurately you should expect.
So the million-dollar question – what do you do about it?
Well, here’s a start. Take the time and answer these ten questions.
These will help you identify the problem areas that lead to these creating these challenges. But, more importantly, these will help you focus on areas that need improvement.
1) Do you have clearly defined and understood expectations for sales activity?
2) Have you mapped out the first 90 days from the moment a prospect becomes a customer?
3) Have you carefully thought about your customer retention process? Do you even have one? I asked a room of 500 company owners this question, and only about seven people raised their hands!
I then asked how many thought they should be thinking about this, and every hand in the room went up.
4) How do you know when a salesperson/front-line employee/customer service rep is underperforming? (The wrong answer here is “We wait a year and see how his/her annual sales compare to last year”)
5) How often does your marketing team check in with your sales team to ensure that the messaging is congruent? And vice-versa? Is your right hand talking to the left?
6) What “early warning systems” do you have in place to alert you when high-value clients are likely to leave?
7) How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing?
8) What is your internal coaching strategy for your customer-facing teams?
9) What systems do you have in place to alert you to changing customer service issues?
10) How quickly do you respond to valid suggestions/concerns/challenges brought up by your sales, marketing, and customer service teams?
When working with a new client, these questions are often the starting point to pinpoint the most effective ways to help them quickly get robust results. Taken together, they help identify areas where your company is doing great and areas where you could make simple changes that have an enormous impact.
When you ask these questions about your company/team, pay attention to where you feel uncomfortable (or even slightly embarrassed). Pay attention to where you say, “Well, we don’t need to do that because….”
Those are the areas where you are most likely to find an opportunity to grow, which can only improve your client’s experience, as well as your revenue!
That’s your challenge for this week. Review the ten questions. Do you struggle in one of these areas or all ten? Do you want some help?