The Overarching Rule of Exceptional Companies, Know Your Customer

While many factors can lead to sluggish sales, probably the most critical mistake we see is that a lot of marketers lose sight of who their customers are. We recently worked with a client to help them understand why sales were stagnant. They were doing the same things they always did and what they were doing stopped working. We did some digging and found some issues that created the problem:

  • Sales weren’t using the support pieces and tools developed by marketing.
  • Marketing and sales worked in silos.
  • Business metrics weren’t monitored to understand if the company was on track or if changes needed to be made to hit revenue goals.

Over and above these issues, we knew instantly the first thing that needed to be addressed was that there was no understanding of the customer. According to Forbes, “knowing and understanding targeted customers is the overarching rule of exceptional companies.” This may sound pretty basic but this can easily get lost in the day-to-day of running a business.

In our web briefing, 5 Big Goofs to Avoid in Marketing Automation, we share that every lead nurturing program begins with a better understanding of your customers. To get this understanding, marketing must bond with sales and marketing must bond with customers.  Whether you are thinking about automation or are looking to adopt best practices, knowing your customer is critical. Here are three ways for marketing to gain customer clarity:

  1. Build customer networks – Loyal customers are advocates so it’s time well spent to build and nurture your network as marketers. Follow your customers and key customer contacts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Find out what they’re talking about and what’s important to them.
  2. Leverage the value of Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) – According to, “the top 20% of clients typically generate 80% of your revenue.”  Engaging key customers allows marketers to see “early warnings in customer needs and emerging opportunities.”
  3. Find out how your customers buy – Talk to sales and find out who your customers are and what they’re like. Talk with sales and customers and develop an understanding of the customers buying cycle and how your customers like to receive information at each stage.

Understanding what your customers want and delivering the right messaging in the right format, at the right time, throughout the buying cycle creates good customer experiences and drives revenue. Whether your sales are stellar, slow, or steady, knowing what’s on your customers’ minds is the foundation for ongoing success.

Are you involving customers in your demand gen efforts? Drop me a note and let me know what you’re doing. I’d love to hear from you!