Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market
“Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want – and a little more.” – Sam Walton. (Sam Walton was an American businessman and entrepreneur best known for founding the retailers Walmart and Sam’s Club.)
I am stating the obvious when I say that before we can meet and exceed the expectations of our clients, we first have to determine and re-examine what their real needs are. Once we have a crystal clear and factually-based perspective on this, we can determine if our products and services are meeting the identified needs and wants of our target market.
Client needs and wants are ambiguous, the competitor landscape changes all the time and innovations can make our solutions redundant overnight. For this reason we need to stay on top of our game. Target market, client and competitor insights are core to our future survival and ability to compete for a share of client wallet.
This calls for a market review where current clients are assessed to improve our understanding w.r.t. the following elements (these are only a couple of examples):
- Their demographics (age, gender, marital status, income etc.)
- Their purchase motives (price, quality, location, guarantees and warrantees etc.)
- When they buy
- The previous purchases from our business which inform their past buying patterns
Once we have an informed understanding of our clients, we can conduct a product/service review. Here are a couple of elements to evaluate:
- Which products and/or services are our “champion sellers”?
- Why are these products or services so successful?
- Can they be improved?
- Which products sell best and have the highest profit margins?
- Can you optimise your operations around these products and services (service delivery, upsell opportunities, special deals)?
- Do you need to change or improve your product pricing, packaging, marketing and service delivery to meet the changing needs of clients?
With this information in hand, we need to match our current product and service offering to client needs and expectations. This might also impact our quality control mechanisms and pricing conventions.
Another crucial element to address, is knowing what your competition is doing. See what they say about themselves (sales material, advertisements, press releases, websites). Your sales staff, customers, www.hellopeter.co.za, newspapers and market research companies can also be good sources of information regarding your competitors.
It is said that “knowledge is power”. This is also true in business where we want to meet and exceed client expectations. Knowledge will enable us to create insights that can assist us in improving our product and service offering to attract more clients and also outperform our competition.
To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success. Go to www.sanlam.co.za/gameplan to download your free copy.