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There is a ... theory that says, "your best ... ... are a lot like your current ... In other words, the ... you should have the easiest time selling to are very simil

There is a marketing theory that says, "your best prospective customers are a lot like your current customers". In other words, the customers you should have the easiest time selling to are very similar to those who've bought from you in the past.

Great idea. But, what do you know about your current customers?

If you have a small customer base and have spoken to many of them personally, you may have a good feel for that. But often that is not the case. If you want to know more about your current customer base without calling each of them and doing some sort of survey, how can you do that?

Here is one way: customer profiling, which is developing a set of information about your current customer base.

Customers can be profiled on demographics or psychographics. Psychographics are beyond the scope of our discussion here; we'll be focusing on demographics. This discussion will focus on business customers, however the same process can be used for consumers.

To quickly profile your customers:

-First, you need data on your existing customers in electronic form. If you collected and stored information on company type, size, and location at the time you initially sold them, it's easy - just download the information from your database. If you didn't - no problem - you will need to download what you do have (at a minimum company name and address) and match it with existing database information. (I will assume here that you all have information stored in some sort of electronic system.)

-There are 2 easy ways to fill in missing information on your customers once you've downloaded their names and addresses. First, you can send to a list broker who will match the names against their existing databases for a nominal fee. They'll send you a file back which includes SIC (standard industry classification) code, company size, and other fields you might request. You can find a list broker via the internet or in your local yellow pages, if you don't already work with one. The second is to use a matching program, such as D&B Market Place. You can load your information into this program, and it will match them - again for a nominal fee. In this case you will also have to purchase the software for anywhere from $850 - $2,100, depending on the specific package, but you will have the ability to both profile and buy new lists at your location.

-Whichever method you use, there are likely to be names which aren't matched. In these cases you'll need to manually obtain the information - either by knowing that client, or by contacting them and asking.

-Once you've completed your matching process, you can load the information into Excel and analyze it, to see what percentage of your customers are in a particular industryFind Article, geographic area or company size. You can then tailor your information and marketing programs to reach more companies like those you are already successful with.

Happy selling!

(c) 2002 Carol Woods

Article Tags: Customer Base

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Carol Woods is the editor of Work at Home Income, a weekly publication of Income Building Blocks. IBB offers free ideas, information and inspiration for moms who work at home - or want to! For lots of free ideas to help you find a work at home job or start a home based business, visit us at and sign up for Work at Home Income!

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