Differentiating on customer experience increases sales and customer retention

Client background

One of the market leaders in crop nutrition mining and distribution.

The business challenge

Global competition was on the rise. Longtime customers were requesting lower cost product and the client’s commoditized product was being undercut in price by competitors. A drop in the client’s crop nutrient trading value was nearing 85%. Attempts to retain majority market share were hindered by:

  • Lack of customer understanding - The company did not have deep knowledge of who its customers were and their behavioral differences in the buying process. In the fertilizer industry, large farming operations, wholesale distributors, and multi-divisional retail companies are all buyers of the company’s crop nutrient product. Some wholesale distributors were buying a majority of premium products while other wholesale distributors only wanted traditional commodity products - and the company did not know why.
  • Lack of diversity in sales approach - The business model supported a ‘one size fits all’ sales approach. The company didn’t know how to align its sales approach with the intrinsic differences between the customers’ buying behaviors.
  • Missing targeted marketing and sales opportunities - Since the company did not understand who its customers were or the wide range of their buying behaviors, it didn’t know which customers to engage with and when. It was unable to identify customer needs based on customer preferences; therefore, it could not act upon them to help solve their business issues. The company knew they were missing sales opportunities.
  • Absence of tactical sales plan - While the company had created a high-level corporate strategy on how to win and retain customers, their plan lacked actionable steps for the sales team members in its core business units.

The Baker Tilly solution

Baker Tilly provided strategic direction, market segmentation expertise, and program management to help the company better understand its customers and their buying behaviors.

  • Conducted foundational customer research to define the customer base.
  • Developed a multi-dimensional customer segmentation model that included not only customer size and historical product mix usage, but buying behaviors and responses to current marketing efforts as well.
  • Executed a series of workshops to break down the entire customer base into manageable and actionable segments, to help define how sales team members could sell to a customer and the ‘touches’ to utilize with each interaction, and to define how to serve each market segment appropriately to maximize sales and customer retention.
  • Defined customer experience designations within each segment.
“Baker Tilly helped us truly understand our customers and their buying behaviors to grow our business, which also helped our sales and marketing functions work more closely together.”
- Director of Marketing, North America


Business impact

  • While continuing to refine their corporate marketing and sales strategy through a variety of initiatives, the client has enjoyed a significant increase in client satisfaction and retention.
  • Among an industry group that competes at being the lowest cost seller of crop nutrients, the company has prevailed against pricing pressure of their premium products.
  • Continued emphasis on customer experience and targeted marketing in the fertilizer industry.
  • The company has excelled at differentiating itself through uniquely tailored sales offers and experiences created specifically for each buyer.
  • Ability to react swiftly and effectively to market changes in a way that creates value for stakeholders through an understanding of customers’ business needs and issues.
  • With an understanding of customer buying behaviors, sales team members can direct interactions with them in a way to meet their previously unknown expectations.

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