Recently I was asked to define the word ‘easy’ by a Sales VP in relation to a headline on InfoQuest’s website that reads “Take an Easy 10% Sales Uplift”.  Most of what I told him is generic and applies to any business-to-business that has between 80 and 500 customers and uses key account management.  The VP pointed out that some elements, particularly those that require changes in mindset and behaviour, were not necessarily ‘easy’. Take a look at the list I gave him and decide for yourself.

 

1. You need to create a list of your most important customers.  This should be a combination of your biggest revenue customers, your most profitable customers, and those customers that have the greatest potential.

 

2. You may want to use Vilfredo Pareto’s 80:20 principle, or, if you use Activity Based Costing then you will already know where your profit comes from.

 

3. Identifying which of your customers have the greatest potential is an exercise that is usually conducted by the Key Account Managers.  If they don’t do this already (some CRM systems now have a standard field for this data) the KAMs should take a guess and give a percentage penetration figure (or the share of wallet) for for each of their accounts – in other words, how much of the customers business have we got that we want.  That caveat, that we want, is important, in that there may be some business available that you could undertake, but because it is very low-value-added it is ‘marginal’ not worth the hassle.

 

4. Under some circumstances the KAMs might struggle to come up with a figure (even a guesstimate).  A little bit of lateral thinking and teamwork might help.  For example I have heard of delivery drivers being used in this process, as it is the delivery drivers that often see what else the customer holds in their raw material warehouse.  But, trust me, it is worth it.

 

5. The next bit is really easy. Undertake an InfoQuest customer satisfaction survey.

 

6. We will then go through the results with you and your senior team in a full-day’s post-survey workshop.  There will be a balanced approach to this.  The top level helicopter view will help your strategic thinking.  The detailed, individual responses, where about 70% of your most important customers will have responded to up-to 62 questions and statements that have drilled down into their perceptions of your business practices (including the two open questions on the supplemental information sheet).  And, as well as assessing the changes that you need to make (in order to sell more) based on any negative feedback, you will also create action plans in order to capitalize on those customers that love you, including references, referrals, case studies and more work.

 

Open questions used in a B2B customer satisfaction survey

Supplemental Information Form

 

 

The rule of thumb is that most B2B organisations would find an easy 10% sales uplift from this process.  In some workshops we’ve uncovered much, much more.

 

 

John Coldwell has run many of the InfoQuest post-survey workshops.  You can call him on +44 (0)1484 868 390.