As always, it’s all about the customers and more importantly, it really gets down to what your customers think about you. I want you to really think about this for a minute or two. What do your customers think about your company? What do they think about how you do business? Would they recommend you to someone else who might need your services? After all, a great recommendation from one of your customers is without a doubt the strongest evidence of how and what they think of you.
We all should be focused on what our customers think of us at all times. This is particularly true for those of us selling business-to-business products because most of the time if we are not performing as the customer feels we should be he will simply walk quietly away, not even bothering to let us know why he is unhappy, which is why it is so important that we always have our finger on the proverbial pulse and staying aware of where you stand with that customer.
A few weeks ago I read an excellent book, Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World, by Steve Anderson and Dave Stein. First, let me say this book is a must have must read for anyone in sales and anyone in business, for that matter, as it is filled with page after page of excellent ideas, suggestions and guidelines on how to be a completely customer-focused company.
There was one particular section that really struck me as a great tool for companies who want to make sure they understand where they stand with their customers. In fact, it’s so valuable that I want to include it here for all to see and reflect upon. Here it is:
How would your customer respond to these statements? Would they say “Yes” or “No” to these statements?
This is your customer being asked to agree or disagree with these:
- You make it easy for us to do business with you.
- You resolve our problems and conflicts as they arise.
- You understand our business and our industry.
- You listen to our needs before talking about your offerings.
- You consult with us with an intent to solve our business problems.
- You dedicate the resources that will enable us to work effectively together.
- You provide us with preferred pricing and contract terms.
- You align your team members with ours.
- You approach our business strategically and not just transactionally when we’re buying.
- You plan the future together with us even when we are not buying.
- You develop relationships with our executives and yours.
- You help us understand the specific value of your offerings.
- You help us assess your performance with mutually acceptable metrics.
- You share best practices and industry knowledge that will add value to our business.
- You provide a single point of contact to us for strategy and decision making.
- You provide an internal advocate for us that will be focused on our specific needs.
And of course you know me—I can’t help but add a few of my own here:
- You are there in times of trouble, making sure that we have the ability to talk, or even vent to someone.
- You maintain a certain amount of decorum and respect for all your customers since we never have heard you say anything disrespectful about any of your customers.
- You are always striving to make our relationship better.
- You are honest with us when it comes to new innovations and technologies that will help our business even if they might not be in your best interest because you have ours at heart.
- You give us the feeling that you are always looking out for us.
- We consider you our expert when it comes to your products.
- We consider you a vital part of our company’s future growth plans.
- You have proven yourself to be a valuable partner to our company.
- It would be difficult to replace you.
Pretty good lists, right? How would you do? Do you feel that you would get positive answers to all of these statements? Are you doing everything listed here and would your customers would agree?
I hope so. But if not, then it is in your best interest to remedy that and do it right away. I would urge you to keep this list around, use it with your team as a tool to make sure you are always on the right track of not only knowing your customers better, but knowing what they want and then providing it to them. It’s only common sense.