The Top 4 External Factors Your Customers Contend with

Quick, What are the 5 external forces that effect your customers?  Can you name them?  If you can name them, do you monitor them?

Every business is affected by external forces, it’s inevitable.  Some are constant such as minimum wage or OSHA, others are spot in time like the weather or specific economic environments. Regardless of what they are, every company contends with the external forces that can either propel their business or stifle it.

The external forces are endless. They can be governmental, economic, natural, and more.

  • Governmental (mandates, laws, regulations)
    • Frank Dod Act
    • OSHA
    • Minimum Wage
    • Sarbanes-Oxley
    • GAAP
    • Immigration Regulation
    • International Trade Agreements
    • Tariffs
    • etc.
  • Economic
    • Consumer Confidence
    • Manufacturing Orders
    • GDP Growth
    • Unemployment
    • National Savings Rate
    • Housing Starts
    • Interest Rates
    • Commodity Prices
    • Consumer Spending
    • Global Trade
    • etc.
  • Natural/Environmental
    • Natural Disasters
    • Snowfall
    • Rainfall
    • Heat waves
    • Cold spells
    • Soil Quality
    • Water Quality
    • etc.
  • Other
    • Consumer Trends (what’s hot, what’s not)
    • Public Access
    • Demographics (increasing or decreasing)
    • Social Trends (What’s acceptable and what isn’t)
    • Competition
    • Technology Disruption/Advancements (think Smith and Corona and a Computer,Word-Processing)
    • Partner Dependence (single supplier availability)
    • etc.

All of these factor and more affect one business or another. Knowing what critical external factors affect your clients and customers is hugely important.

Once you know what they are it is just as important to monitor them. Monitoring external factors for success allows you to get ahead of the game. It allows you to see dips before they happen. It allows you to customize your solutions in responses to the external changes. In other cases, it allows you to be a valuable information resource as your customer or prospect may not be aware of what’s going on.

Knowing, understanding and monitoring the external factors that most impact your customers and prospects business is of critical value in sales. Take the time and build a list of 5 for each of your customers. If you don’t know them, get with your customer and ask them. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in many cases, your customers aren’t sure themselves. They would appreciate the discussion. Once you know what they are, start to monitor them. Follow the terms on Twitter, subscribe to the blogs and periodicals that track them. Make sure you have a system in place that let’s you know when they change and impact your customers or prospects.

In addition, especially if you sell into a specific industry, develop a list of five industry factors to track as well. Most industries have a industry economic indicators that are tracked by analysts and the companies themselves. Know what they are and track them too.

Understanding the macro environment of your industry and your customers it paramount. It positions sales people well for delivering better solutions. It allows for the development of better sales strategies. It enables proactive account and territory management. It minimizes the risk of missing quota and revenue goals. It improves customer relationships. It provides a competitive advantage.

Do you know the top 5 external factors that affect your customers? Do you know the top 5 factors that affect the industry in which you sell?

You should.

What external factors affect your customers contend with? Are there any unique ones you watch or address with your customers? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear about them.