Knowing Your Ideal Customer Really Well….


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This simple statement struck me a few years ago as I went to read a business success book- from the 1960’s…. Yes, that may seem like a long time for some of you – I was just a tall, skinny, pimply faced kid in grade school at the time.

The statement “we are all in the people business” is obvious when you think about the connections you make, the relationships you have, and the conversations you engage in.

So how well do you really know your customers, your clients, your prospects, your web site visitors, your business partners and your employees? How well do you know the ‘ideal customer’ for your business?

Knowing your customer means knowing what your customer really wants. It may be your product, but there is something else too: recognition, respect, reliability, service, friendship, help – things all of us care about as people on this earth.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial to have this knowledge held in a trusted database that was easily accessible? Would your lead generation, conversion rate and customer loyalty increase? What is the long term business value of these capabilities? Hint: a customer-centric business strategy and relational contact database application is an appreciating asset.

To Know about them as a Person:

  • Conversational interests
  • Why they love what they do
  • Nickname (once you know them well)
  • Spouse or partner, children
  • Spouse’s interests
  • Dates: birth, anniversary
  • Parent’s vocations and interests, siblings
  • Where he/she grew up
  • Key locations, places they have been and found enjoyable
  • Educational background
  • Extracurricular activities, military service
  • Formative life experiences
  • Avocations – hobbies, interests
  • Personal issues he/she may be grappling with
  • Involvement in non-profit or charitable associations
  • Risk tolerance
  • “Favorites”: restaurant, vacation spot, movie, etc.
  • Personal style: introvert vs. extrovert, detail oriented vs. focused on big picture, self-centered, open to changes vs. change adverse, traditional vs. progressive, etc.

To Know about them as a Professional:

  • Preferred means of communication (e-mail, phone, etc.)
  • Name of their personal assistant
  • Strengths and weaknesses as an executive
  • Role models, mentors, leaders they admire
  • Work style (early/late, weekends, etc.)
  • Career history: positions held, major accomplishments
  • Career goals and aspirations
  • Politically active and if important
  • Social Network links (especially LinkedIn)
  • Most concerning issues right now
  • Quality/tenor of relationships with his/her boss
  • Relationships with key direct reports (do you know them?)
  • Professional associations (Tip: Look up in LinkedIn…)
  • Alumni associations
  • Conference participation
  • Corporate Directorships
  • Other top executives he/she associates with
  • His/her most important “Network hubs”
  • Articles and other web content they have authored
  • Volunteer association memberships
  • Expertise such as found in a business blog.

The famous author, Harvey MacKay, identified 66 characteristics for his customer profile -in building strong business and personal relationships.

P.S. Special recognition to Andrew Sobel and his “How well do you really know your clients?”.

Action Step: Start by considering what is important to know about your ideal customer. Pop open your contact manager or CRM system and add the fields to track this information. Make a concerted effort to gather the information and update your database. You’ll be surprised by what insights you’ll gain and the deeper relationships that develop!

What is another characteristic that is important to your business relationship development process?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dick Wooden
CRM specialist to help you get the answers you need with sales, service, and marketing CRM software. I help mid-sized businesses select, implement and optimize CRM so that it works the way their business needs to work. My firm is focused on client success with remarkable customer experience, effective marketing and profitable sales using CRM strategy and tools.


  1. This is a great post. Providing the optimal customer experience involves access to data from a wide variety of sources. Social media interactions are emerging as a new type of customer interaction and the flood of such data is placing an unprecedented amount of pressure on businesses to assimilate the information and act quickly and appropriately. Fortunately, a new type of technology solution called Operational Intelligence can draw upon such non-traditional data and correlate it with structured data to deliver a complete view of the customer.


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