“There are no good or bad relationships; there are just people who should not be together. This works for all relationships, whether it’s a business, romantic, family, or professional relationship.”
Caroline Gikonyo, Business Coach
I was conducting a group coaching session, when it became clear that my clients were facing a common challenge in business: that of dealing with prospects or customers who make you feel so bad that you want to quit the business.
Since my clients all had relatively new businesses, I knew that we had to come up with a solution fast in order to motivate the group and shift to a more positive mood.
As we worked through the session, I got an idea on how they could profile their customers. This would in turn help them start working more with their ideal customers.
We tested this idea and it worked perfectly for everyone. And so I used it again with other customers and in my own business…with amazing results.
A few weeks ago when working with a new client, the same challenge came up and I was able to pull the solution out of my mental tool kit with ease.
Here’s the system, and be warned that it’s a truly colourful one.
My 5-step system for working with ideal customers only
1. Create your ideal customer profile
First, take a sheet of paper a create 3 buckets: red, orange and green. You can do this by drawing red, orange and green buckets or by dividing the sheet into 3 equal parts and with the colours at the top.
Think of all the people you have dealt with in your business to date. Identify and categorize them into the proper bucket.
- Red: These are people you really hated working with or selling to. They made it seem as if they were doing you a favour when buying from you. They delay payments, bargain a lot, don’t keep their promises, keep telling you what’s wrong with your business, services or products. By the time you’ve finished dealing with them, you have a headache and want to give up on business.
- Orange: These people are neither here nor there and haven’t decided whether to buy or not. They may need or want what you’re offering, but they aren’t buying for one reason or another. They ask a lot of questions and maybe they just need a reason to buy from you. Oranges are cautious by nature and take time to decide. It could also be that they’ve had a prior negative experience with a similar business, product or service so they don’t want to rush in this time. These people are generally pleasant and you don’t mind spending time with them.
- Green: These are people that you absolutely LOVE dealing with. They are the customers who buy from you, come back for more, rush and bring their friends, relatives, colleagues (everyone!). They send you referrals, never bargain and are always appreciative of what you offer. To them, you are doing them a favour and not the other way round. You love spending time with these people, but keep overlooking them because they don’t ask for much and you’re too busy with the reds!
The next step is to go through your customers and prospects and profile them. Put people in their correct categories (buckets).
Don’t be shy…there’s no judging or blaming here, just looking at things as they are and focusing on your experience with them. Fill up your buckets now with names of people who belong to each bucket.
For each group, identify what it is that you like or don’t like about your experience with these people. Write the characteristics you’ve identified underneath each bucket.
2. Dump all the Reds!
Yes, I’m serious. Dump them!
You will notice that you end up spending so much time with them that you don’t focus on making the oranges and greens have a reason to buy from you or send you customers.
Reds will kill your business in the long run. Further, if you ever make a mistake with them, they will badmouth you all over the place.
They have no loyalty despite the time you spend with them. Worst of all, if someone opens a similar business, they will run there very fast and forget everything you did for them.
Finally, they will suck you dry and still ask for more.
3. From today on focus 80% of your efforts on the Greens
Each day, ask yourself, “How can I make my customer experience better?”. Come up with ways that you can enhance their experience with you.
Remember, your these people are the ones that shout to the world about you…so you want more of this.
4. Enhance your experience with the Oranges
As you work with the greens, also look for ways to make the oranges feel better or have a reason to buy from you.
Listen to their questions and come up with a list of answers. Evaluate their concerns and match your responses to respond to these concerns. If you have a guarantee in place, tell them about it.
With time, some oranges will turn green and others will turn red.
The aim here is to keep your red bucket as empty as possible, reduce the orange bucket and fill up the green one.
Every month, do a review of the customers you’ve worked with in that month. Keep updating your list of characteristics until you come up with 10 core characteristics for each bucket.
Memorize these characteristics until you’re able to identify which bucket someone belongs to within a few minutes of talking to them. Take care not to judge people too fast and allow your intuition to guide you.
After using this system consistently for about 6 months, you will notice that your customer profile will start shifting. By then you’ll be dealing more with your ideal customers than with the non-ideal ones.
This will not only make your work easier but will also make business a more fulfilling venture for you.
Where else can you use this system?
Personal Life: I’ve been able to use this system to categorize the people I want/don’t want in my life. Once I accepted that life is too short for me to spend it unhappy, it was very easy to create my boundaries in this way.
Self-Evaluation: I’ve also used it to identify when I’m the non-ideal customer, friend, mentor, employee, etc. and this helped me change some negative behaviours or move towards being with people I resonate with.
So the system works both ways: you can identify the people you want in your life and/or business; and you can identify when you too are a red, orange or green in someone else’s life.
How about you?
Have you been able to profile your ideal customers and how was the experience for you? And is there a time when you’ve been the non-ideal customer yourself?
(Images courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net)