In this series of blogs I thought it would be interesting to see if there is anything to learn from our top 10 customers. I want to see if there are any common reasons why RedTie's 10 largest customers are the largest 10 customers? What differentiates a company that achieves thousands of orders a month, through their Web to Print system, from those that are doing hundreds?
In fact I have only chosen one metric for top 10 classification, volume of orders. That is not to say that someone with only 100 orders is not doing really well. We have seen single orders go through that have 6 figure values on them, and I am sure that one order a month at that size would be considered a very good Web to Print business!
What we can say is that our top 10 customers based on volume are a mixed bunch. There is no common geographical location, no common vertical market or specialisation that they operate in (that is not to say that specialisation itself is not one of the common traits). Furthermore their sales mix, although weighted towards business to business (b2b), also includes companies that are business to consumer (b2c) and business to business to consumer (b2b2c).
The top 10 do share some common traits though. In Part 1 I am going to concentrate on one trait that is universal to the top 10, the time they have been a customer. Without exception our biggest customers are also some of our oldest customers. This obviously makes a lot of common sense but let's dig a little deeper to explain some of the reasons why time is an important factor.
At RedTie we invest a lot of development resource to ensure that our Web to Print solution is easy to use. It is nevertheless a very mature and technical product. Yes you can build a basic webstore and product in under 10 mintues but really you are just scratching the surface of what the system can do, a reflection of its flexibility. In addition, remember that a key benefit of our SaaS based system is that everyone is automatically using the latest version, which is updated several times a year with new features. It takes time to learn how to fully exploit a software solution and requires a continual investment in time to keep up with the new features.
It is important to have someone in your company who is comfortable with what the software can and can't do (in fact the more people the better). After-all selling Web to Print to your customers is normally a solution selling process (this might involve more time for your sales team to learn this often new technique). It is about providing a compelling solution or multiple solutions to one or more of your customers problems. If the person involved in this solution sale process is not comfortable with what the software can do then how can they be confident about solving the problems of their potential customers.
This is probably best described by way of an example. A lot of our potential customers want to have their first Web to Print customer on board before they sign up to us, it is human nature to be risk averse and I fully understand this point of view. Historically RedTie would be asked for a demo site for our potential customer's first customer. We used to think, no problem, it doesn't take long for us to knock up a demo site and it is all part of getting new business for us. After doing this for a fairly large number of potential customers we were surprised that so many failed to get their first customer on board. After a bit of investigation we think we found out why.
With new demo site in hand our potential customers go off to a meeting with their first potential and after the demo you can just imagine the conversation:
Printer: "So you have seen what we can offer, it is pretty cool right?"
Potential Customer: "Yes it is, but can it do this?"
In two sentences the printer's sales person with no actual knowledge of what the software can do has hit a dead end. So what are the outcomes of what the sales person says next:
|Sales Answer||Real Answer||Outcome|
|Yes||Yes||Good, probably a guess but move onto next question!|
|No||No||Not as good an answer but still correct and can be positive|
|Don't Know||Yes or No||Shows a lack of knowledge in what you are trying to sell.|
|No||Yes||You have just undersold the solution.|
|Yes||No||The worst of all situations, you have just oversold the solution|
Five possible scenarios, the top two are fine, the bottom 3 are negative. Without knowing anything about the system you have a 60% chance of saying the wrong thing. As a side note, saying yes when the answer is no can be very expensive. Ask any software developer to turn a no into a yes and you are looking at bespoke development. If you said no to a customer you can talk to them about paying for the bespoke development or sharing the cost. If you said yes then you can be looking at a quote ranging from several hundred to several thousands pounds.
There is another very postive reason that time is an important factor. Kevin covered this in his excellent blog "Stop Dating your Customers' and Marry Them". Web to Print is very sticky if you are providing a solution to your customers' problems. They will need a much more compelling reason than just the price of the print to leave. This means that you can constantly grow by adding to your customer base, not just trying to replace customers that have gone elsewhere. You are not running to standstill!
We often see this pattern in the volume of orders from our customers, both large and small.
This is because they are adding new customers to their Web to Print but still spending time between each new addition making sure that the solution is meeting the current customers needs (keeping it sticky).
It is fair to say that our RedTie Web to Print super users have taken time to get to where they are and there is no time like the present to get started on your journey to join them. Talk to us or book a demonstration to see how we can help.
In the next part of this series I am going to cover the team. Not just looking for common themes in where the top 10 companies are now but where they started and how they have changed.