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Every B2B company wants more customers. But even more than that, you want great customers. You want customers who are loyal and spend a lot with you.

It's the old 80-20 rule: 20% of your customers are likely generating 80% of your revenue.

Ideally, you'd like to improve and optimize that 20%, because even a small change there for the better will make a large impact on your business.

Most brands start by asking themselves...

Who is my ideal customer?

They generally answer that question by examining who their best customers are today:

  • What industry are they in? And is their subindustry meaningful?
  • What size company are they?
  • How many employees do they have?
  • How old is the company?
  • Where are they physically located? And where do they do business?
  • What do they look like operationally? What does their tech stack look like?

Plus, a bunch of other firmographic, geographic, and technographic questions, many of which are more pointedly connected to what the brand offers.

This kind of persona analysis can make sales efforts much more effective by narrowing down the field of candidates that are worth extra attention from your sales reps.

But identifying your ideal customer is different from creating a great customer. The latter requires a different kind of analysis.

What makes a great customer?

Instead of looking at firmographic, geographic, and technographic characteristics, we want to look at behaviors. Specifically, what do our best customers do that our less valuable ones don't?

For example, are your best customers significantly more likely that others to...

  • Make their second purchase within 90 days?
  • Use all their purchased user seats or licenses within 60 days?
  • Complete their first project using your solution within 30 days? 14 days?
  • Attend your user conference within a year of becoming a customer?
  • Attend three or more webinars during their first year as a customer?
  • Become active in your user community during their first six months?
  • Use certain product features during their first six months?
  • Download your mobile app within 60 days?
  • Open a line of credit or use other financial services?
  • Contract with your professional services team?
  • Provide a testimonial or become a referenceable customer during their second year?

Dig into the histories of your customers and determine which behaviors predict higher spends, higher satisfaction, and greater loyalty.

That analysis doesn't have to be exhaustive. Just look for patterns and correlations, and apply some common sense.

That's because the next step is to see all of those correlations as opportunities to give your customers a nudge to take specific actions. That nudge can be in the form of emails, in-app prompts, or calls or meetings over the appropriate period of time.

Operationalize a set of interventions to encourage those desired behaviors, keeping careful track of the interventions and their performance, keeping in mind that early messaging will likely make customers more likely to respond to later messaging.

Over time, refine your messaging, optimize the number of touches, and fine-tune the timing of those touches based on how your customers are responding and whether those behaviors are indeed making them better customers.

But don't stop there. Tackling this issue from the other end of the spectrum by asking yourself...

What causes a dissatisfied customer?

Obviously, a dissatisfied customer can't be a great customer. So, it's wise when building programs to nurture customers to also build ones that reduce dissatisfaction.

In some cases, dissatisfaction can grow out of not doing some of the things that great customers do. For instance, if a great customer tends to use all their purchased user seats or licenses within 60 days, you might see that a future dissatisfied customer uses fewer than half of theirs during that time frame.

Other behaviors that might predict or indicate dissatisfaction:

  • Reaching out to customer support numerous times
  • Using your solution to start, but not complete, multiple projects
  • Reducing the number of user seats or licenses
  • Returning an excessive amount of products
  • Demoing, but not purchasing, multiple additional products
  • Cutting back significantly on professional services
  • No longer using your mobile app

Again, do some exploring by looking at customers you've lost and their behaviors in the months or year before they moved on. The behaviors you find should all be considered potential triggers for interventions, whether in the form of messaging, time and attention, or something else.

Create better customers

Sometimes great customers just happen—in the same way that sometimes dissatisfied customers just happen. Tilt fortune in your favor by identifying and building triggered and escalation programs around customer behaviors that strongly correlate to the future outcomes you want.

More Resources on Obtaining Profitable Customers

Why You Should Be 'Cloning' Your Best Customers to Grow Your Business

Test Your Customer IQ

What to Look for When Identifying Your Best Customers

How to Use Data to Reveal Your Brightest Star Customers

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image of Chad S. White

Chad S. White is the head of research for Oracle MarketingConsulting and author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules, as well as nearly 4,000 posts and articles about digital and email marketing.

LinkedIn: Chad S. White

Mastodon: @chadswhite

Twitter/X: @chadswhite