David: In our last podcast, we talked about how adversity reveals a client’s true colors. This week. I’d like to take it a step further and explore the idea of rebooting your customer base. With everything that’s happened in business over the past few months, it may be the perfect time to do it.
Hi and welcome to the podcast today. Cohost Chris Templeton, and I will be talking about the pros and cons of rebooting your existing business. Welcome back, Chris.
Chris: Hi David. You know, to some, the idea of rebooting their client base may sound really scary, but I suspect that deep down inside, it’s something that appeals to nearly every business owner, as well as their salespeople. So let’s start with this. What do you mean by rebooting your client base?
David: Good question. Well, I think of it in terms of rebooting your computer. If you have Windows, we’ve had Windows for years, Microsoft Windows, you’re probably familiar with rebooting. You get the blue screen of death sometimes, and you try to reboot your computer. And what happens when we reboot or restart the computer, is that it clears out everything that’s in there and it starts over again and pulls everything up. Then everything is fresh and new and hopefully not all messed up. I think that is a perfect analogy for our client bases sometimes. Over the years, they can accumulate just a lot of things that will slow us down. A lot of clients who are no longer a good fit, a lot of people who may be too demanding, where the amount of time that we invest in the relationships is no longer worth the amount of revenue that we’re able to generate from those accounts. And so, sometimes we need to look at it and say, “okay, what would a reboot of my business look like?” If I were to walk in the door tomorrow morning and walk into a business that is a lot better than the one that I’m operating today or working in today, what would that look like? How would the day start differently? Who would I be interacting with? Who would I no longer be interacting with? That’s what I think of in terms of a reboot.
Chris: And, you know, I think one of the things to really think about as part of that discussion is why. Why do you want to do this? Not as a challenge to doing it, but as a “let’s get into,” as we talked about in the last podcast, “let’s get you into solution oriented mode.” And when you know why you want to do this, and my sense of that is it’s really about what I want, like you said, my day to look like, what I want my business to feel like. “Start with the why” as Simon Sinek says. So when you look at it, why do you think this is an important thing to do?
David: Well, first and foremost, from a proactivity standpoint, designing the business, designing the life that you actually want to have, I think. The idea of rebooting your business, I think it’s very important to do it from that standpoint. From a quality of life standpoint, I think that’s big. That’s probably number one. If I were to boil it down. In business, we very often spend more time with our prospects, clients and coworkers than we get to spend with our friends and family and loved ones. And so for that reason, I think we need to be very conscious of the fact that every time we choose to do business with a particular prospect or a particular client, that we’re going to be interacting with this person. And if it’s a good fit and if we’re able to help them, and if they understand and appreciate everything we can do for them, it’s going to be a great relationship and we’re going to get along fine. If that fit is not there in the beginning, or if it was there, but now it’s no longer there, then, when we do that reboot, we’re going to be able to eliminate those relationships that are holding us back and holding them back. It’s important to understand this too. I’m not just talking about saying, “okay, well, I’m just going to pick my clients and work with the people that I want to work with.” Essentially, that’s what clients do too, right? Clients decide who they want to work with. And we decide who we want to work with. So when that happens on both sides, it does tend to keep things a lot cleaner. But there are some times where we have clients who know that it’s no longer a good fit, but they insist on doing it because whatever, they’re too lazy to try to find someone else, we’re too lazy to try to find that customer, to replace them. And we continue doing business with people when the relationship is no longer, really valid. So I think it’s important first and foremost, from a quality of life standpoint, second, certainly from a business standpoint, the idea that we want to interact with the people that we can help the most, those are the two primary reasons that I think it’s important to do it. And even to just consider it, to just think about what that looks like actually feels pretty good. If you think through it and you think, “wow, what would I like this business to look like? What would I like my customer base to look like?” And then how can I do it? And to some extent, it’s like gardening. It’s like pruning a tree. If it’s getting out of shape or you’ve got some dead branches over here, you’ve got a branch that looks okay, but it’s just invasive, you may have to trim it back a bit. And it’s a similar analogy.
Chris: And if you were to do this, when you talk about pruning the tree, what are some of the things that you would be looking for as you know, red flags for “this is probably a client that’s time to move on from?”
David: One of the exercises that I’ve encouraged my clients to do a lot over the years is to print out a list of your existing customer base. And print it out according to how much they’ve spent with you, either all time or over the past year or whatever it is. And just rank them in order of how much they spent with you from the most down to the least. And when you’re looking at that list, you’re going to see the name of the person or the name of the company. You’re going to see how much they spent with you. And you’re going to look at that and you’re going to say, I love that person. That person’s great, or that business is great. I love doing business with this person. Or, you’re going to say, Oh man, that guy, I didn’t realize he spent so much money with me. Right? And that’s going to tell you, when you look at the person and the money that they’ve spent, you’re going to be able to make decisions about, was it worth it? Was it worth my time? Was it worth the aggravation? Was it worth the… whatever… insult. The way that people talk to us sometimes may not be worth what it is they’re spending with us. But another thing that you’ll also probably find is that as you get toward the bottom of that list, the people who have spent the least with you, are very often the ones who are causing the most trouble. So it becomes far easier to say, okay, you know what? I’m going to get rid of these customers. I’m no longer going to pursue them. Proactively. If they come back, will I take an order? If they behave, I will, but otherwise I’m not going to pursue them. Instead. I’m going to look for more customers like the ones I want. And then the third aspect of that is… Back when I was a kid, when I was 15, I started working in radio, and I worked in top 40 radio. And one of the things about top 40 radio is that every week, the list of the top 40 songs would change. Some were moving up, some were moving down, some were staying the same. And if something was moving up really fast, they said, it’s, you know, number 12 with a bullet. That meant that it was really popular and it was on its way up. And I look at client bases the same way. There may be somebody who’s near the bottom of your spending list, but they’re number 105 with a bullet. You just like them. You’ve got a good fit. They started spending money. You can see them being in your top five or your top 10, or maybe eventually being your top customer. And obviously you want to cultivate those relationships. Then you see other people who are operating with a bullet the other way. They’re on a rapid decline where they’re just not communicating well, they’re not responsive. They’re not taking ownership of issues. And those people, you can say, all right, I am not looking for clients like this anymore. I’m looking for the type of people that I know I can help, who know I can help them, so that we are on the same page.
Chris: And the end result, if you do, this is happier clients, happier business team, higher quality of life. And I really commend you David, for taking the time to talk about quality of life. We have a tendency to think it’s so separate from what we do business-wise. And yet, if I have a high quality of life in my business, I’m going to have a high quality life outside of it. Aren’t I?
David: Yes. And what about the quality of life of your coworkers? If you’ve got a poor quality of life, if you’re not enjoying things, you’re not going to treat them well. You’re not going to treat your prospects well. You’re not going to treat your clients well. So you owe it not just to yourself, but you owe it to everyone around you, to your prospects and clients, to make sure that your quality of life is high enough, that you can share the good with them. That you can start your day in your business, feeling good about things, knowing that you’re taking positive action, that you’re moving in the right direction, that you’re attracting the types of people and organizations into your orbit that you know you can help, all of that just leads to a much healthier environment
Chris: I want to sing it from the rooftops. David, I really do. You know, one of the things though we should mention is, what do we do if we’re a smaller business that just doesn’t have that many clients to begin with? Is this still a valid thing to be looking at?
David: To reboot if you’re just getting started or you don’t have enough clients? Yeah. I think this is probably the type of thing that we might want to look at doing every morning. At least considering it. If I’ve been in business for a short period of time and I don’t have a whole lot of clients, look at the clients you have and ask yourself, if you have three clients, is there one I like, is there one that I don’t like? And is there one that’s kind of okay, because generally things boil down that way. It’s a plus, it’s a minus, or it’s a neutral. And if you’ve got a lot of clients who are negatives, that tells you that you are targeting and attracting the wrong types of customers. If you’ve got three positives, it means you’re on the right track. You’re doing the right thing and you don’t need to reboot. It means that you’re already moving in the right direction. So looking at it, no matter what size your client base is, no matter how big your business is, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, I think that this is a really good exercise to do. Just ask yourself if I were to start over each morning, what would I want that business to look like? What kinds of customers would I like to attract? If it’s a B2B situation, what size businesses am I targeting? Because if I’m targeting very small businesses with very small budgets and I’m expecting them to spend a lot of money with me, I’m setting myself up for failure. Same thing, even if I’m in a business to consumer scenario, if I’m targeting people that don’t have much money, to try to get them, to spend a lot of money with me, I’m going to be disappointing them and I’m going to be disappointing myself. So making sure that we’re matching up what it is that we do and how we do it with the people who can benefit most from doing business with us.
Chris: I love the idea of starting your morning with a “wouldn’t it be great” story. Wouldn’t it be great to continue to build my business with clients that I really enjoy working withm that trust and appreciate me understand the cost of what I bring to the table and see its value? I mean, if you start your day every day with that, I think it would make a difference. Don’t you?
David: Yes. Just a morning reboot. Just like every morning, you’re restarting your computer? Every morning you just sort of restart your brain and say, okay, if I don’t like what I’m doing now, if I’m not happy with what I’m doing now, if I’m not happy with the people that I’m interacting with, what can I do right now to change it?
Chris: Right this minute. And we have to remember that we have the ability to do that, and take the time to actually do it and set yourself up for the success that you want.
David: Yes. And don’t scare yourself by telling yourself that if you get rid of a troublesome client, or if you decide you want to be too fussy about the types of clients you bring in, that you’re not going to be successful. I can assure you, you will be far more successful when you’re attracting the types of clients who understand you, understand what you do, appreciate the value you bring to the table and want to work with you. And they’re out there. And our job, as business owners and as salespeople, is to find them. That’s the goal. And when things are tough in the economy, it definitely becomes more challenging to find them, but it also becomes as necessary or more necessary. You can’t just say, things are tough now, I’m going to have to take anybody who walks through the door. I mean, there may be situations where you’ll have to take a client where it’s not a perfectly good fit. But don’t get yourself used to doing that. Get yourself used to identifying and targeting the types of clients that you want to have, who have a good fit with you, your corporate culture, what you bring to the table, because if you’re able to do that, then everything gets better.
Chris: There are so many businesses that just don’t understand that. And we can point to the businesses that do understand it and see how well they operate, whether it’s Costco or Starbucks or any number of others that just are companies that do good. And you can see how their employees are, how people appreciate being their customers. There’s no reason that any sized business can’t accomplish the same thing is there?
David: No, there really isn’t. And I think the primary reason it doesn’t happen is that we lose sight of it. We start each day and we’re busy responding to things. We’re putting out fires. We’re dealing with situations that might’ve occurred the day before. We’re responding to our coworkers, we’re responding to clients and we lose sight of it. And we just end up going totally reactive. And we don’t take the time to say, “Hey, wait a second. What do I want this business to look like? What do I want this client base to look like? How can I grow something that I actually want to be in and be a part of?”
Chris: Such a huge question, such a huge question with just huge implications for success and happiness in our jobs. Isn’t it?
Chris: How should we wrap up David?
David: Well, let’s take a look at what we’re going to be doing next. In our next podcast, we’ll talk about the value and worthiness of price-cutters.
Chris: I like it. Okay, if you need help minimizing the short or long term damage to your business and positioning yourself as the go to person for recovery, go to TopSecrets.com/call to schedule a strategy session to find out if David and his team can help you. That’s TopSecrets.com/call.
David: These are very strange times, and it’s likely the next 90 days in business are going to be critical for you. So if I offered to work with you, virtually, over the next 90 days, to help you to minimize the short term damage to your business, and position yourself perfectly for the long-term, as the go-to person in your market, while everyone else is too afraid to move, would you take me up on that offer? It’s important to understand that this is not for everyone. Specifically, you must be serious about doing what’s necessary to grow and scale your business right now. This is what’s going to help you to minimize short-term damage and position yourself as the leader in your market during the recovery. You must be ready, willing and able to invest in yourself, your business, and getting new clients. You must be willing to follow very specific instructions. You must be friendly and coachable. And, you must be ready to start now. This is not for those who want to “wait it out.” If you meet all five of those criteria, schedule a one-on-one strategy session with us to determine if we’re a good fit to work together. Please, only schedule a time when you know you’ll actually show up. Just go to TopSecrets.com/call. That’s TopSecrets.com/call.