A customer procurement guide for SMEs
Procuring customers is vital to any business. But how does one do this – through flashy logos, networking, or simply producing a good product? Where should you focus your time, and money? Is customer retention or procurement more important? In fact, these are all connected. These are some vital areas to focus on.
Focusing on the value-proposition of your business is vital to attracting clients. What do you offer that makes you stand out?
This is your value-creating core. By providing a top-class product or service, procurement grows organically. Satisfied customers will not only be repeat-clients, but also constitute the main procurement channel for SMEs: word-of-mouth and referrals.
- Customer service
Even when you provide a competitively priced product or service, customers often migrate elsewhere if your service isn’t up to scratch. In contrast, if doing business with your company is a convenient pleasure, you will reap the rewards of loyalty.
- Go the extra mile
Whether in rapid delivery time or attention to your clients’ needs, find ways to surpass your customers’ expectations. There is little to rival a raving customer or glowing referral in terms of procurement. Moreover, referral-clients have the highest retention rates, and produce further referrals.
For SMEs, taking on the scope of work that larger companies do is unfeasible. Rather than being a jack-of-all-trades, focus on excelling in strategic areas.
- Define a target market
Don’t take on the whole industry – hone in on a subset that your competitors aren’t, or that your skills and resources fit best. If you excel here and grow your client base, it will enable expansion.
- Solve problems
Problem-solving is an excellent procurement method. For example, if a supermarket chain’s fresh bread regularly arrives late, they may need a greater supply, or to outsource delivery. If you can identify and solve such problems, you will quickly close valuable deals.
- Learn to say “no"
SME’s can’t always be picky. If you have a small client-base, turning away potential revenue can seem unthinkable. But if a client makes unreasonable demands, or has a history of non-payment, devoting more time to procuring (and retaining) more valuable clients might be a better option.
While the digital age has made it easier to get a message out, it is also harder to stand out from the pack. Smart communication has therefore become an essential art for procuring customers.
Branding is not just a logo and clever catchphrase – although these are important – it is the sum of your business identity : who you are, what you do, what your values are. This should tie into everything from your slogan to business ethics.
- Website and social media
These simultaneously represent your brand’s identity, advertise products or services you provide, and are the first point of contact with clients. While there are many strategies to optimise each, implementing SEO to boost your site on Google searches, and publishing eye-catching content on social media, will help to attract the right clients.
Whether connecting with colleagues through LinkedIn or Facebook; giving a presentation at an industry event; writing a column in a respected website or newspaper – networking helps to bring in new customers. Research the networks your target-audience use and make those a priority.
- Customer feedback
Not only does a responsive feedback system facilitate improving your product or service to meet clients’ needs, but it creates more personal, engaged customer relationships – invaluable for retention and procurement of customers.
Strategic partnerships allow business owners to invest their energy where it counts – perfecting their product or service, business model and communication channels that enable customer procurement.
Moreover, they are mutually beneficial. They enable each business to focus on its strengths, working towards a common goal rather than competing, while customers reap the rewards of the businesses’ combined power. Particularly when partnering with an established company, this gives customers confidence in the ability of SMEs to meet their requirements.
Promote customer procurement with financing
From being the face of your brand to ensuring quality control, communication to accounting, being a SME owner is non-stop work. Procuring customers, then – who large businesses have the time, money and clout to attract with ease – is a serious challenge.
Have you considered partnering with a factor? Rather than waste valuable time chasing debts, you sell your accounts receivable to this third-party organisation – meaning you can focus your energy on attracting new clients. Moreover, when you partner with Merchant Factors, your customers have the added confidence that you are backed by a company with more than 30 years’ experience in empowering SMEs to success.For fast, flexible business finance – contact Merchant Factors today.
Finance beyond the Numbers.