In this section we would like to show our vision on true customer focus and the threats and opportunities this provides, based on our principles.
Our knowledge economy is characterized by a high degree of transparency and easily obtainable information about potential customers, market trends, performance and portfolio of competitors. New providers can quickly appear and products and services become commodities faster than ever before. From a customer perspective, companies look very much alike and products and services are interchangeable. The distinctiveness of your company lies in the ‘real’ understanding of the customer and in developing, selling and delivering innovative products and services that give substance to the value the customer wants.
In a world where changes rapidly follow in succession, it becomes a precondition for a company to define a clear heading and regularly challenge it. Today, recognizing changing customer demand and responding quickly to it with innovative propositions is an important success factor. It leads to continuous growth with a healthy margin. This means perfectly positioning your company to your target market, but also developing the right propositions for the right customers. The extent to which your company can match or exceed the value desired by your customer now and in the future is the focal point.
Customers today are more critical than ever. Tracing the customer’s issue and what is needed to resolve the issue will largely determine your company’s right to exist. Defining and translating the strengths of your portfolio and company from a customer perspective to the value it delivers to him is crucial. Within companies, knowledge about the portfolio of products and services is mostly adequate. Knowledge of what customer issues can be resolved and therefore of what value your company will be delivering is often neglected. This means that the customer has to distil and evaluate the values contained in your offer by himself. There’s a real chance that the value of your company and portfolio will not be correctly assessed.
What motivates your customer? What question really lurks behind his or her needs? Analysing the question behind the question is decisive for the ‘real’ understanding of the customer, as is choosing the solution and approach that maximizes the value for the customer. Indeed, lacking a clear view of the requirements will lead to insufficient value. [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]
It goes without saying that the choice of a particular supplier is determined by the customer’s decision makers. All too often the final decision makers with potential suppliers hardly play any significant role when identifying and maintaining contacts. Developing a relationship with the final decision makers is crucial to obtain a preferred position in the decision-making process. Identifying and responding to the priorities, KPIs, agendas and desired value of the final decision makers is essential.
Many sales organizations are reactive and will only move if the customer sends an RFI or RFP. This often means that the customer has defined the question, the expected value in solving the problem, which solution should be implemented, what budget is required, and which criteria are applied in deciding for a supplier. Thinking with, educating and influencing the customer is hardly possible. The client directs the buying process, rendering the odds of winning low. To significantly increasing the odds, it is essential to jump in early in the customer’s buying process, to map the issues along with him, to determine what value is expected in resolving the issue and to discuss the different scenarios in terms of solutions. In addition, an influential alliance with potential decision makers must be developed, thus ensuring that buying criteria, the decision-making process and the assessment of competitors are influenced to your advantage.
The actual delivery of the value sold is a basic principle for retaining customers. This requires close cooperation and an unambiguous interpretation of Sales and Delivery in both defining the customer issue and the value desired by the customer, and the value that your company is able to offer. Solving the issue and responding effectively to the personal and business agendas and KPIs of the decision makers and influencers, are important. Additionally, cultural matters play a role, such as speed, flexibility, thinking with the customer and customer focus of your company.
Only those who are prepared to throw overboard current processes and practices will be able to look around with an open mind. Discoveries and insights that arise in such a way will form the basis for change, innovation and growth for a fundamentally new course focused on creating value for customers and developing sustainable customer relationships. [/twocol_one_last]