30 tips for a successful customer profiling

30 October 2017

Customer targeting is the foundation of any go to market strategy. Only by understanding our customers we can define the right sales and marketing initiatives, select the right channels, deliver the right message.

A customer targeting initiative usually starts with the sales force using a questionnaire to profile (or survey) the relevant customer base.

Sounds simple but it is not. From our experience there are a multitude of issues that end up compromising the customer profiling. And poor customer profiling generates poor segmentation outcomes.

In this short article we list 30 tips to help you run a successful customer profiling:

  1. Use a short questionnaire
    Have up to five questions. Maximum. Resist temptation of using the customer profiling as a market research tool. It is not.
  1. Test your questionnaire
    The questions should be crystal clear and not open for interpretation
  1. Run a focus groups with your sales force
    Run a workshop with a sample of Sales Reps and FLSMs to explain the process, capture their questions and concerns
  1. How to insert the profiling survey into the call
    Define how to best insert the profiling questionnaire into the call. There are several approaches to it. Agree on what to say to the customers before asking the questions. Encourage the Sales Reps to validate the information obtained by using other sources like the nurse or the pharmacist
  1. Involve compliance
    Remember to involve compliance in the project. Just to ensure that the questionnaire and process is aligned with the company standards
  1. Train your Sales Reps
    Prepare your Sales Reps for the task ahead. Address their concerns. Communicate expectations. Seek buy in by showing how important this initiative is. Ensure that sales reps understand what is in it for them: explain how customer targeting will benefit their day to day work
  1. Train your First Line Sales Managers
    The FLSM involvement is crucial. Explain their role and ensure they are ready for the task.
  1. Define target audience
    Prepare a clean customer list (existing customers) for profiling. Define the target audience and the rules of engagement to ensure that all relevant customers are profiled (not only our friends)
  1. Use built-in logic rules
    Use logic rules in the questionnaire. Logic conflicts are usually responsible for a significant amount of profiling errors (e.g. number of patients on a given class of product exceeds the total patients seen)
  1. Set daily and weekly goals
    Things run better if we have targets. Define the number of customers to be profiled in a day and in a week. Be realistic. Communicate
  1. Define expectations
    Define expectations for the profiling exercise: what do we expect to see? Typical examples include potential concentration and difference in customer potential across regions. Those will come handy when you are checking for quality
  1. Turn off calls per day meter
    Consider being more relaxed towards activity targets during profiling. It might be challenging to deliver good profiling while chasing the calls per day targets
  1. Stay on top
    Check progress daily. Send daily or weekly status report to the FLSMs. Get FLSM to act if we are running late
  1. Motivate
    Communicate progress to the sales force, praise overachievers (check for quality first). Consider running a profiling context (opinions are divided on this one)
  1. Address all exceptions
  2. FLSM validation on the go
    Ask FLSMs to validate the profiling output from their teams.
  1. FLSM coaching
    Ask FLSMs to accompany Sales Reps on a few profiling calls
  1. Allow for customers to be added (and profiled) on the go
    Allow for Sales Reps to add customers (originally not in the customer list) on the go for the sake of profiling (without having to solicit inclusion in the database). It will save precious time
  1. Address any issue immediately
    React fast to any issue and communicate. Stop the profiling if necessary. Examples include unclear questions and …
  1. Check for quality
    Check for quality of data collected during the profiling exercise. Do not wait till the end. Look for patterns and outliers; e.g.: if all customers of a Sales Rep have the same number of patients or if a Sales Rep profiled a very high number of customers in a week
  1. Validate with a sample of customers
    Validate the profiling output with a sample if customers.
  1. Validate with internal or external data
    Use available data to validate the profiling output. For example: check account sales versus the total aggregated potential of the customers in that account
  1. Ensure readiness
    Have a check list and only start the profiling once the organization is ready
  1. Communicate expectations
    Cleary communicate what is expected from everyone in the sales organization.
  1. Get sponsorship from top management
    Ensure you get support from senior management. Ask the GM to drop a line to the sales force stating the importance of the customer profiling exercise and seeking their total commitment
  1. Avoid busy periods
    Avoid conducting the customer profile in busy periods. If it is scissors versus rock, the rock wins.
  1. Avoid using ranges
    If the ranges are not properly defined (selecting the right ranges requires a fair amount of testing) we might compromise the entire exercise
  1. Restrict type of answers
    Restrict the type of answers that can be inserted in the collection platform; e.g.: 10 or ten or 9-11, 10% or 0.1. It will save you plenty of data cleaning
  1. Stay in stand-by mode
    Problems are bound to happen in an exercise of this scale (e.g. collection platform). Be ready
  1. Facilitate things for the sales force
    Their job is to profile their customers (on top of their day to day activities). Try to make their task as easy as possible.

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