In Focus, Leaders

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” – Winston Churchill

Last week in this space the topic was focus & the idea that we need to figure out what we do well and stick to it without getting distracted by every new possibility.  One of our loyal readers pointed out the importance of focus as it relates to not only what we do, but who we do it with.  I couldn’t agree more.

What does your ideal customer look like?  Anyone who’s breathing?  Most leaders that I’ve worked with do talk about customers who are a fit, but if you watch their actions you would assume that “a fit” means anybody who wants to do business with them.

For our organizations to be successful, we have to serve people who value what we do.  We have to have great customers, customers who find value in what we have to offer, who treat us with respect, who allow us to help them, etc.

No matter how great your product or service, if you’re working with the wrong customers it will always be a struggle.  The wrong group of customers doesn’t really want help, they don’t really value what you do, sometimes they’re disrespectful – the list goes on and on.  We physically cannot provide A-level value to D-level customers for very long.  Whether it’s for financial reasons (they don’t value what you do) or just plain exhaustion, it can’t last.

Most leaders would generally agree with the last two paragraphs.  However, most organizations really struggle to define what that great customer looks like.  If you can’t define what a great customer looks like for you, how will you know when you’ve found one?  How will you even know where to look?

I’d challenge each of you to get your team together and spend an hour creating a definition of your A-level customer.  It doesn’t need to be a dictionary definition, just a list of bullet points.  What are the characteristics of an A-level customer?  They’re able to attract & keep great people?  They have strong leadership?  They have reasonable expectations?  They’re a leader in their industry?  They’re fun to be around?

Narrow that definition down to no more than 8-10 things (less is fine).  If that’s how you define a great customer, what does that mean for your business?  How do you go about finding new customers that fit that description?  What about the customers you already have who don’t?

In our never-ending quest for sales growth, we have a tendency to agree to do anything for anyone.  Don’t let the ‘anyone’ part drag you down.  It requires discipline, and maybe some sacrifice, but it will absolutely be worth it.

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