The Customer Development Strategy

Article, Insights

Why does your organization exist?

The Customer Development Strategy is one of our key models in Acuity World. It is a meta-strategic tool for choosing your customers wisely, engaging with them intimately, and developing them from plain Shoppers – those who have bought from you once – to Clients – those who show the commitment and loyalty to come back for more and buy from you again – to Positive Activists – those customers who are so satisfied with your products and services that they simply cannot imagine not buying from you and bring their friends.

The Customer Development Strategy

Customer Acquisition

  • You create Awareness around your company, products, and services, making use of the types of media that are relevant to your business based on what will deliver the greatest value, to attract leads.
  • You engage with those customers who show general Interest.
  • You establish intimate sales relationships with customers, transforming general Interest into a specific Interest for your products and services, thereby creating a Desire to Action.
  • You build further on the specific interest and desire to action to make the first sale to your customers, who now become Shoppers – those who have bought once – completing the Customer Acquisition part.

Customer Development

  • You provide excellent after-sales service and invest in the customer relationship, paving the way for the next sale that will turn the Shoppers into Clients.
  • You ensure that the clients experience that they receive value for money with repeated buying circles, turning them into members who feel part of a like-minded community and value the sharing of knowledge and experience with other Members.
  • You develop the relationship together with the Members based on their desires, ensuring that they are convinced of the benefit and value for themselves and others in this relationship. This way, they will become ambassadors for your company, products, and services, telling others about their positive experiences, when somebody in their network ask for their opinion or advise.
  • You develop the relationship further together with the Ambassadors and involve them in your activities, ensuring that they do not just remain fans, but that they become Positive Activists who want others to become equally excited about your company and your products and services and make an effort to get others onboard to the mutual benefit of everyone involved.

Transition from customer acquisition to customer development

There is a conscious shift from the first part of the model to the second part, i.e., from Customer Acquisition to Customer Development, in terms of the way you engage with the customer. This shift plays out when going from simple awareness of your products and services to the development of the customer.

 The shift is brought on by maintaining the ultimate customer focus, i.e., by nurturing the customer’s innate desires, going from pushing the sales towards the customer, to the customer experiencing the true value created by your products and services, and therefore starting to pull the products and service from you. 

It takes absolutely no loyalty or effort to become a customer (a Shopper) with a company, but when someone makes the decision to buy repeatedly and become a Client, that person is showing a sense of loyalty to you and your brand – and you need to make a conscious effort to preserve and continuously deserve that loyalty.

Turning clients into Positive Activists

If you are diligent, you can turn more customers into Clients while keeping the clients you already have. 

And by satisfying the innate desires of your Clients you can turn them into Members, Ambassadors, and Positive Activists

A Positive Activist is unquestionably better for your business than a Shopper because they want more from you – they pay more and therefore get more – and they will also bring the next customers to you. Developing your customers into Positive Activists will consequently create a win-win situation – it is a continuous winning game for all parties involved.

Remember, however, that you can never push the customers around the circle in the Customer Development Strategy™. You need to forget all about the tricks and gimmicks that are still taught at far too many sales trainings today. Depending on the customers’ experience in terms of getting value for money, they will either opt-out at one stage, or they will move voluntarily around the circle, taking one or multiple steps at a time. Your job is to support this movement by providing superior customer service and helping customers get what they truly want, i.e., creating real and true value for them.


The ideas behind the Customer Development Strategy are based on 30+ years of solid sales experience, The mindset in the model is supported by The Personal Leadership Spiral, which also serves as the underlying driver as illustrated by the depiction in the center of the green circle in the Customer Development Strategy. 

The Personal Leadership Spiral is a dynamic and systemic model, which can be used in leadership of yourself and others. This model is in turn inspired by The Satisfaction Cycle, developed by Dr. Joseph Riggio in the 1990s.