The Must-Have Customer: 7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got
by Robert Gordman and Armin Brott
One of my favorite authors, “Anonymous,” once said: “You can tell whether a person is clever by his/her answers. You can tell whether a person is wise by his/her questions!”
Veteran business consultant Robert Gordman believes success in business is simple: It’s literally there for the asking. What he advises executives to ask—and keep asking—are questions that help them understand what their company does well, what it could do better and what its competitors do that lures customers away. Of course, listening without bias and incorporating that feedback into a strategic plan is essential as a follow-up strategy.
The expertise you’ll find within these pages was developed through more than 30 years of business consulting and executive management for retail companies. You’ll learn the tactics and wisdom Gordman used to help dozens of companies, such as IBM and Berkshire Hathaway, improve their sale range from about $10 million to an astounding $80 billion!
The seven steps and the lists of survey questions he shares with you are simple and easily applicable to any business. When I realized this, my thought was obvious. If so elemental and obviously productive and successful, why in the world isn’t everyone doing it? I’m not even sure Gordman can answer that one as this is one of the great mysteries in the history of organizational management. The author shares a number of examples—from Coca-Cola to JCPenney—of companies that failed to employ the seven simple steps successfully and suffered the consequences as a result. He asserts that most companies do not die of natural causes but from poor decision-making that drives away profits, one customer at a time. Take the time to do a little research and you’ll find that the majority of business authors and consultants would tell you exactly the same thing after years of observation. Apparently, many see but few learn and respond.
I don’t want to demean Gordman’s “7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got” in any way. I say that because his strategy has been proven to be very effective time and time again—for those who have applied it. However, I think you’ll agree that each of his 7 Steps are very basic and considered by some to be nothing more than “common sense” … or maybe we should call them “uncommon sense” because so few are taking advantage of them. After close examination of each step, you’ll understand why so many companies have failed over the years and how to avoid that same fate while enjoying sustained, profitable growth.
- Who are our Must-Have Customers?
The author gives you tools to identify three customer groups and what they mean to your business.
- What Is Our Market Position?
Gordman will show you how to determine where your customers have positioned you and how to use that information to create a business strategy that will attract more customers while meeting the needs of those you have.
- Sweet Spots and Why You Need One
Identify and define your “sweet spot.” Then learn how to study the competition and how to use research to develop a business plan that ensures that your company’s sweet spot remains defensible.
- Why Are Our Satisfied Customers Buying from Our Competition?
Learn why satisfying your customers isn’t enough and why you must create undying loyalty. Then face the frightening reality that will bring you success: Fire the customers who are more trouble than they’re worth.
- Critical Success Factors: Do You Know What You Don’t Know?
Learn the difference between what’s important for your company and what’s critical. Build a strategic plan and receive the tools you need to develop two or three critical initiatives to assist you in outlining cohesive goals that everyone in your organization can work toward.
- Must-Have Employees
Use the questions in this chapter to discover why Must-Have Employees are so critical to your success.
- Are We Communicating Effectively with Our Must-Have Customers?
Learn why increased sales don’t necessarily translate into increased profits and how and why this step is so essential to your future.
(This book review was originally published in 2005 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 14.)