In the last edition of the SalesPulse we said there is nothing more simple than doing just one thing, in this case it is focusing on your customers and that in this edition we would explore the benefits of this as a business strategy.
Customer intimacy is the only form of sustainable advantage; it engenders loyalty, positions you as a trusted advisor and helps you avoid transactional selling that professional buyers are seeking to establish as the norm. This is the first benefit of adopting customer intimacy as a differentiation strategy.
Much is made of the internet and how it has changed the world of selling. There is a lot of truth in this particularly in buying and selling commodity products and services. There is also a school of thought that says, when a prospect approaches you for a potential purchase they are already 62% of the way through the sales process and all they effectively want from you is a quotation as they know everything else about you. If this is happening to you, you are not in control of the sales process, the competitive landscape or indeed anything else to do with the prospect, even if it is an existing customer. Customer intimacy allows you to set the agenda and puts you in control.
Here is a quote from Steve Jobs that supports this statement.
“Get close to your customers. So close that you will tell them what they need, well before they realise it”.
This is what professional sales people do. The internet has not changed the world of professional selling, but it has made it easier and quicker to find out about your customers than was previously available through manual research. The second benefit of customer intimacy is that it puts you in control.
If you are a regular reader of The SalesPulse you will have seen this diagram before.
Produced originally by Cranfield Business School, we use it to describe the value journey. Quite simply the further you are positioned to the right, the stronger your business relationship and the better your margins. This is the third benefit.
Having this absolute customer focus will better inform your product and services development. You will have access to customers with whom you can collaborate on such developments, have ready-made test beds and ease the cost of product and service introduction. In general terms you will have to spend less in these areas and as such improve profitability and reduce the selling cycle by close to eliminating competition. This is the fourth benefit. You will better understand the “customer service” needs and facilitate the delivery of a much better customer experience. This brings with it a host of other benefits which include:
– customer advocacy and increased referrals
– improved market share through competitive activity reduction/lock out
– customer lifetime values will increase
– customers will seek to expand the areas of collaboration, and
– customer attrition will be minimised.
And one final point on benefits; the organisation will become more productive and less costly through the reduction of activities not directly contributing to the improvement of your customers’ business. Beware though, customer intimacy is a business strategy not just a sales strategy and if you would like to know more click here.