Increase profitability, not costs

Known for his Dale Carnegie training expertise, Terry Siebert is writing to inspire leaders to reach their greatest potential. Leadership, today more than ever, may mean the difference between closing the doors or opening new markets. Every month, he'll post help with mindset, business tools and more. Read Full Bio

Today’s business world demands that we answer tough questions about our businesses, implement the most practical answers through an engaged team, monitor and reward progress, and keep building a team to get us where we need to go. If there is one area that we could all focus on that would almost guarantee repeat sales and more profits, it’s adding more value for our high-value customers.

It is important to constantly ask and answer the right questions and ensure that action steps are implemented. Begin by reflecting on:

1. Who are your best customers? (Define what you mean by “best” – usually the top 20%.)
2. What does your business mean to them? (How do we impact their lives/their businesses?)
3. What are they planning and how do we become part of their plans?
4. What products, services, and activities make us the most money?
5. What activities are high-value, high-return?
6. What extra actions keep customers feeling special?

The answers to one through five are focused on helping customers – and you – get what you want and allow you to stay in a winning position in the game. Number six can make you just a little better than your competition. If you say you are not worried about competition, consider the words of Mark Twain: “Let us be thankful for the fools. But not for them, the rest of us could not succeed.”

Why is it important to add a little extra, personalized touch to every key customer interaction? Any customer can go anywhere for a better price but can’t go just anywhere to be happy. If you listen and watch, you will know what the little extras are and provide them. If you keep asking and answering questions one through five, you will always be adapting and adjusting your value to customers. Your value proposition and offering will stay linked to the quality of your delivery and how it matches your customers’ wants … beyond the price you charge. The quality of your reputation and how you keep your brand’s promises, not how you generate dollars and cents, will get you through the ups and downs.

It is important to think through every interaction with your best customers and figure out how to add that extra, personalized value.

The opportunity is there for any organization or any person. We have all the time required and the costs are minimal to connect with customers with sincere interest, or moments of added generosity. It doesn’t always have to be a technological tool we use, although connection is faster using some of these tools. It could be as simple as tracking your customers’ buying routines using a CRM system, calling them, and telling them that you have a special gift for them.

Offer value by actually valuing your customers. In small or medium-sized companies, customers are not just numbers. They are people, and that is your advantage over big companies. Today, customers expect that you know as well as they do their wants and where they are going. Here are some examples of the memorable little things that can make a business stand out:

  • A customer arrives at her favorite restaurant and, by the time she sits down, her beverage of choice is waiting for her.
  • A customer receives a brief handwritten note from the CEO/owner with every large order.
  • Your customer gets a genuine after-the-sale service call.
  • Your customer receives a genuine service call while the service or product is being delivered. Ask him, “How would you like to be serviced?” Find out what little things are important to him and, if taken care of, could be memorable to him.

All of us can figure out what will work and what won’t, and we don’t have to give away the value we charge for. (See numbers one through five.) We can add that extra valued touch without adding excessive costs. Never add costs for your customer without adding value. If you treat customers in a special way, they won’t be so upset when you up your prices. The extra value could justify the costs. Remember: The bigger the personal connection, the more your customers will remember you. You will gain access to repeat business and bigger sales.


Make your own list of what extra-value touches you can give your clients that sincerely make them feel special. Implement them immediately. Better yet, get a group together to create a list of your best customers. Create standardized routine actions and/or go over each account and determine what they would value that is unique to them and then implement your specific actions. This meeting could be the most profitable use of your time this month. Your brand loyalty, profits, and sales depend on it.

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