I believe there are 4 steps to find customers who will perfectly fit your expertise and business philosophy, and 3 tools that can help.
This is part 2 of a 7-part series.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
To watch the full video, check out:
4 Steps to Identify an Ideal Customer
Here are the steps you can use to figure out who your Ideal Customer could be:
First, you need to be aware of which people can benefit from what you provide.
Next, make those customers aware of what will happen if nothing changes, and how your services or products can relieve the discomfort they are facing.
You also want to retain customers who will generate the most profit for you, who will get the most benefit from your help, and who align with your goals. You want customers who pay you on time and who don’t complain about it.
4. Laser Focus
Finally, when you niche your focus in one area and provide a solution to a particular problem or to a very specific audience, people who are looking for that kind of help will find you.
While a niche can be extremely specialized, you’ll find that it actually brings people in a large periphery who can also benefit from your expertise. A niche can only happen when you decide not to be “Everything to Everyone.”
Tools to Help You Find the Right Customers
I’ve developed several free resources to decide which customers are Ideal and how to find them:
- Year In Review
- Customer Rating System
- Ideal Customer Bubble Graph and KPIs
Tool #1: Year In Review
One tool that can help you to recognize the best customers is the Year In Review. You can read more about this topic in these posts:
5 Reasons to Share a “Year In Review” of Your Business
31 “Year In Review” Examples to Inspire You
What to Do If Your “Year In Review” is a Disappointment
6 Resources That Can Help You Analyze the Past Year
The Year In Review process allows you to:
- dive into the events that happened in the past 365 days,
- see what influenced the outcomes,
- whether you reached your goals…
- and if you didn’t set goals, you can still see whether you “moved the needle” toward growth or not.
By evaluating what happened and whether you moved closer to your goals, you’ll get a black-and-white, objective view of your business. Maybe you didn’t make as much profit, but look at all the relationships you’ve established and the new services you’ve created. Instead of growing the number of customers, perhaps you now have a higher sale per customer with a larger percent of repeat customers. Maybe you’ve started to speak at community events, or you have developed a new technique to solve customers’ problems.
The “Year In Review” also lets you measure success in a lot of different areas, rather than just financially. The profit margin is the most important number in any business, because it tells you whether you are financially healthy; but there are many other qualitative ways to measure organizational health (customer satisfaction, staff turnover, staff engagement, community support, etc.).
Tool #2: Customer Rating System
Another tool that will help you find Ideal Customers is a Customer Rating System.
Here’s what it looks like:
This tool is based on a concept shared by Dr. Alan Weiss in his books Million Dollar Consulting and The Consulting Bible. But you don’t need to be a consultant to understand or use it.
Basically, this tool walks you through four aspects of your company and your work. It asks you questions, which you measure in numbers: the weighted amount (how important that question is in your business), and then you rate each customer on a scale of 1 to 10. Then you multiply the numbers, and this total will tell you whether that client is in a pre-determined range that you believe is “Ideal” or not.
Is each of your customers ideal for YOUR services and expertise, or would they be more appropriate for someone else to serve? That’s the question you can answer by using this tool.
Click here to download an example.
Categories in the Customer Rating System
The four categories are:
- Is the work challenging and motivating?
- Are your objectives clear?
- Are the measures clear?
- Is your customer aware of the value they receive?
Each of these questions has a weighted amount (out of 10, with 10 being the most important).
- Has the customer worked with experts in your field before?
- Does the customer treat you as a partner?
- Is the buyer an “early adopter” who decides on something before their peers do)? (This person is also known as the “Maven” in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point)
- Does this customer want to discuss their pain points, even if it is uncomfortable?
- Are they being honest about their challenges?
- Do they accept responsibility?
Benefits to Me
- Will this customer add value to my brand?
- Are my potential profit margins high?
- Does the work use my strengths?
- Is labor intensity kept low?
The Customer Rating System can help you determine whether past and current customers align with:
- the work you do,
- the type of buyers you serve,
- their qualities and contributions, and
- the benefits you get (mentally, emotionally, financially, socially).
When you review each of the past customers you’ve served and calculate the scores, you’ll immediately see how closely they align to an “Ideal” score.
As I mentioned, this template is based on a concept by Dr. Alan Weiss in his books Million Dollar Consulting and The Consulting Bible. You can adjust it to meet your needs.
Download a free example template here.
My Experience with the Customer Rating System
When I first used this to evaluate my past and current clients, I was shocked to see that some people I thought were really benefiting from my efforts actually had a really low rating. This means that when you add everything together with a weighted score (based on which questions are really important to you), the total percentage for that particular client was lower than my perceived business experience of serving their needs.
This means that overall, the customer was not a good fit for
- my expertise,
- the customer’s expectations, and
- my belief in doing work that made me feel energized.
By using this tool, I found it to really help me see the data around which clients are actually the best fit. Since I’m a numbers person, the results gave me something to compare and contrast. I have used this tool for 40 different clients, and I was really surprised to see a range of some clients who rated high, some very low, and the majority who rated in the middle.
When I looked at the clients with the highest ratings, I thought about which qualities they all had in common. Which categories do they share?
Download a free example template here.
Tool #3: Bubble Graph and KPIs
The framework for my Customer Rating System came from other tools I developed, including the Ideal Customer Bubble Graph and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You can read more about them here.
How to Create an Ideal Customer Bubble Graph
All about KPIs (Analyzing Profit Margins FAQs Part 2: Profitability)
In the next installment, we’ll be discussing why Key Performance Indicators are a useful step in identifying the right customers. Read it here.
If you are interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace, find out more here!
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.
Find more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @lacontestrategy.