Understanding who the customers are for your business is critical to existence and growth. According to Blank, as a company that engages in selling products or services, chances are there are a number of people in a number of categories whose needs you must satisfy to sell the product (Blank 2020). The customer hypotheses encompass several different types of customers.
- End Users – day-to-day users of the product or service.
- Influencers – the key IT personnel.
- Recommenders – similar to influencers and can make or break a sale.
- Economic Buyers – has the budget for the purchase and approves the expenditure.
- Decision-maker – the person with the ultimate say.
Sam’s Medical Lab spent time and resources identifying the physician office hierarchy’s key roles to understand and classify the customers in different types. For example, each office should consist of at least the end-users, recommenders, and decision-makers. The end users are the nurses and receptionists. They use the web portal for data entry and checking patients in. The recommenders are the nurses and physician assistants, and the decision-makers are the owners and physicians. Occasionally, the nurses can become the decision-makers primarily if they work in the office for a long time. They do most of the heavy lifting and preparation work which has a lot to do with the laboratory work.
Sam’s Medical Lab’s second customer group are the patients; the direct customers who walk-in to the specimen collection centers. In dealings with the patients, the types are irrelevant because they are essentially the end-users, recommenders, economic buyers, and the decision-makers. The physician’s job is to order diagnostic laboratory testing and provide guidance to the patient. The patients can shop around for laboratory services and go where they see the most benefit.
After identifying the customer type, we must understand what problem the customer has. As Blank states, it’s much easier to sell when you can build the story about your product’s features and benefits around a solution to a problem you know the customer already has (Blank 2020).
From the customer interviews and surveys, we conducted, the problems seem to come in a pattern. The patients want to choose whether to use their insurance or pay out of pocket, walk-in at their convenience instead of struggling to schedule an appointment and get fast results. For the physicians, the primary concerns seem to be turnaround time and convenience. Understanding the customers’ problems is not enough. Helping the customers understand they have a problem and presenting your solution in a way that is appealing to them should make the decision easier.
Following this method, we have successfully helped dozens of local physicians and their patients switch from competing labs to using Sam’s Medical Lab and expect them to become a long term, repeating customers as we look to expanding our testing offerings and grow more specimen collection centers.
In the next blog I will focus on the ROI and competition. Stay tuned…
Blank, Steven G. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2020, Amazon Kindle.