The Perfect Customer Ruins Good Enough
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Tom Stimson
July 19, 2018

This blog title is only partially correct. Perfect gets in the way of good, but some qualities are more important than others. A horse can be 80% perfect and still be missing a leg.

When it comes to finding the perfect customer, what we all need is one key non-negotiable quality.

Without that key quality, you will spend too much time, money, and brand capital wasted on chasing imperfect, unsatisfying, and unfulfilling buyers using resources that could be developing ideal customers.

Trust me. I have done it. It’s not worth it.

What’s Your Idea of Perfect?

I was helping one of my clients through the “Target Buyer” profile exercise. We started with, “Who is currently your best customer? Why?”

There was only one contender for this title and they had a fantastic list of qualities. Everyone in the room agreed that this was indeed the perfect client. How can we get more?

Then we did their next best customer, then the next. The lists of desirable qualities got shorter and shorter with each iteration. There was a bit of grousing about each example’s bad qualities: “They always complain about the cost,” or “They don’t communicate well,” or “If anything goes wrong they throw us under the bus.”

The ideal customer looked better and better as the session progressed.

At one point the owner stopped the exercise and pointed out that there was one quality in the perfect customer that none of the others had. “These guys sit down with us and have an honest conversation. That’s how I do business. I want to work with customers that work the same way. That’s our criteria.”

We agreed that we could still do business with other companies, but that marketing and business development energy would focus on ideal prospects. Now the task was to design filters to help my client more quickly assess buyers so they could pass on non-ideal prospects.

Here are three examples of non-negotiable qualities. Your perfect criteria might be different, so do try the exercise of profiling your best customer.

Protip: You only need one non-negotiable criteria – don’t be greedy!

Share Their Budget

Not every client that shares their budget will be a good fit: Some still have unreasonable scope expectations. What makes this an appealing criteria is that you can eliminate most price-shoppers. If you are any kind of services provider, you understand how important this transparency is to the success of a project.

Engage Honestly

The example above used, “Have an honest conversation.” A buyer that will honestly talk about what they want to achieve and what kind of partner they are looking for isn’t a pipe dream. You have to be the kind of supplier that does the same thing. Are you looking for long-term relationships? Then don’t compromise on honest engagement.

Appreciate You

It’s not too much to ask is it? Someone that takes the time to learn how and why you work the way you do and truly wants to work that way is important if you are what I call a “Best-Fit” company. That is, your products and services are designed for a specific type of buyer and no one else.

A better title for this blog might be, ‘One Perfect Trait is Worth More Than Ten Good Ones.’

What’s the one trait that really matters for your business? That’s the right question. If you are having trouble narrowing the list down, give me a call. Let’s tighten up your criteria so you can maximize your marketing time and energy.

About Tom Stimson
Tom Stimson MBA, CTS is an authority on business and strategy for small- to medium-sized companies. He is an expert on project-based selling and a thought leader for innovative business processes.
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