Monday, December 22, 2008

Looking for New Market Opportunities?
Consider Unfulfilled Customer Requests

In a recent meeting of Chief Executive Boards International, a member said his company regularly pulls out its old product inquiries and quote requests, looking for a consistent theme of unmet product needs. And they find them. By keeping track of the customers' requests you can't meet or RFPs you don't respond to, you can build a knowledge base over time that can be quite useful.

Then another member who's in a multi-location retail business said: "We've really simplified that. We have a pad of paper beside the cash register where the clerk writes down "What I Could Have Sold Today" (that a customer asked for and we didn't have). She puts it in the bag with the day's checkout slips and we log those requests."

While writing this, I remembered something my Dad did in his hardware store in the 60's. The delivery truck came from the central warehouse only once a week. When a customer asked for something he didn't have, he put down the customer's name and the requested item on a big piece of wrapping paper that was taped to the countertop right below the cash register drawer. He ordered those items to come on the next truck, and then called the customer as soon as they arrived. In almost every case, the customer still needed the product, and Dad had a sale.

So, if you're looking for new products to develop, new services to develop, or new products to source or stock for your customers, make keeping track of "What I Could Have Sold Today" part of your company culture, and then back that up with a system to capture those requests and trends.

If you have some clever ways you identify new and unmet customer needs, click "Comments" below and let us know about them.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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