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Practical Application: Prioritizing Customers & Client Prospects

Instructor: Mary Matthiesen-Jones

Mary has worked around the world for over 30 years in international business, advertising, and market research. She has a Master's degree in International Management and has taught University undergraduate and graduate level courses .

For salespeople there are only so many hours in a day. We'll use scenarios to consider different ways to prioritize customers and prospective clients so that a salesperson can maximize returns on time spent.

Not All Customers are Equal

It's tempting to treat all customers the same, but as you learned in the lesson How to Prioritize Customers & Client Prospects deciding who to focus your attention on and in what order can have a significant impact on sales success and profitability.

Consider these scenarios and decide on the best way to prioritize the opportunities.

Scenario 1: What is the Business Potential?

David heads media sales for a small advertising agency. He is always looking for new clients and is fast to respond to potential clients who call and inquire about services.

Last week David had two inquiries. Client A is a well-established local business that wants a small radio campaign. Another bigger agency handles their television advertising with a much larger budget. Client B is a business new to the town. They are looking for a company to handle all of their local media.

David can only devote time to one new client. Which one should he choose? David asks himself:

  • What are the budgets for each client?
  • How much time will it take to handle the media buys?
  • Is there opportunity for future growth?
  • Can the company take a risk on an unknown client?

Scenario 2: Who is in Charge?

Sharon sells business security software. At an industry event she meets the CEO of a large retail chain. He gives her his card and asks her to set up a meeting to discuss her company's products.

Sharon has tried to meet with the V.P. of software buying services for the company in the past with no success. She has to decide whether or not to set up the meeting with the CEO or to continue to pursue the V.P.

She is concerned that by going over the head of the V.P. it may make doing business more difficult in the future. Sharon considers:

  • The CEO asked her to set up a meeting so it could speed up a sale.
  • The CEO may give her a bigger picture of their overall needs, leading to a larger contract.
  • She does not know why the V.P has resisted meeting with her.

Scenario 3: Which Clients Come First?

Alfredo works in sales for a major auto dealer and specializes in fleet sales of multiple cars to companies. He has many repeat customers who are happy with both the cars and the quality of service from the dealership. Alfredo has learned that if he keeps current customers happy after they have bought a car they will come back to him in the future.

Recently he has encountered difficulties with a new customer who purchased five cars for his company. Alfredo receives calls from this customer on an almost weekly basis with some complaint about the cars. The time he spends handling the issues prevents him from being as responsive as he would like with his other customers.

Alfredo has to decide whether to give priority to this new customer who never seems satisfied or to his established customers. He asks himself:

  • What is the long-term potential with the new customer?
  • Has there been any change in the service for loyal customers?

Making the Decision

  • Scenario 1

David has to evaluate both the long- and short-term potential of both clients. Client A's budget is small and David has to compete with another larger company for more business. Client B's budget is an unknown quantity, but he can research their history to evaluate potential risk.

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