1. Segment customers with potential
Correct segmentation is the only way to address customers in a targeted way. If each sales representative is assigned 50 customers or less, it makes sense to have the reps estimate customer potential individually. However, if each agent is responsible for hundreds of customers, companies will need to use analytical methods. One of these methods involves clustering similar customers (e.g. in terms of size, region, industry) and focusing on customers with a high Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) within each cluster. Anyone who falls below the revenue level of these customers has potential. Outliers at the higher end shouldn’t be taken into account to avoid setting potential levels that are unattainable.
This picture shows an example analysis of mid-sized customers in region A with low price sensitivity. The line labeled “peer potential” indicates where a good customer should be, and all points below this line represent customers that should be raised to meet this level. Sales won’t be able to achieve this for every case, but this approach points them in the direction of customers they should target and away from customers they shouldn’t.
2. Determine how frequently customers should be contacted
When it’s clear how valuable a customer (potentially) is, the next step is to define how often they should be contacted. The right amount of contact depends on the industry, but every company needs to have a set of rules in place, e.g. “personal contact (telephone call, visit) with A-customers every 30 days and B-/C-customers every 90 days; D-customers receive an email or letter every 180 days.”
This is a very effective method to prevent churn. Also, it helps companies calculate how many salespeople they require based on how many visits and calls have to be made every year.
3. Use heat maps
It’s not only important to know how many salespeople are needed; how successful they are also matters. Most sales teams are divided according to region. A simple heat map, which visually represents the relationship between sales and potential, offers companies an effective overview of performance. There are many reasons why salespeople may be underperforming on potential. However, companies can only address the issue if they know what’s causing it.
If a region (in this case a country) is red you have to investigate the reasons and define countermeasures.
4. Set up regular routines
Weekly, monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual sales meetings have to be added to the calendar. For example, the department calendar could look something like this:
On Monday mornings, the team leader sets aside time to align with their sales teams (phone or field). Phone sales meets for stand-up meetings on a daily basis to discuss the schedule. Thursday evenings are reserved for internal sales to discuss the week’s successes, and on Friday mornings, field sales does the same. This gives the different hierarchical levels time to run through everything.
By clearly defining the important topics and figures and distributing a standardized report after each meeting, everyone knows what to do and when to do it. Responsibilities won’t be too diffuse, interventions won’t occur too late, and there won't be any more problems sharing best practices in sales.
5. Ask churned customers for feedback
If, despite sales’ best efforts, a customer terminates their contract, their feedback is essential. It's important to ask openly and honestly what the issue was. Don't let price be the excuse. If they mention price, ask them how the service should be improved to justify the price. Any aspects that keep showing up are levers the company can use to improve the product, service, or sales processes, so next time, price won’t be the issue. This is how to create a solid foundation for attracting new customers and winning back old ones.