Really focus on the customer

Focusing on the customer largely determines the success of a marketing and sales organization. For decades, this has been propagated as the starting point for commercial policy. In practice, however, it looks recalcitrant. Most organizations are still product-oriented in their thinking and actions. The power of the supply side has shifted to the demand side (the customer) as a result of rapid change, increasing competition and pressure on margins.

To maintain and develop a sustainable position with clients it is a must to transform your marketing and sales organization. It is essential to always be a step ahead of the customer and the competition, and keep doing so throughout the buying process. For shaping this mind shift John D. Eisenfelt uses the following success factors:


Outside-in thinking and acting

By thinking and acting from the outside to the inside, the customer and the environment are put at the core of an organization. This creates the basis for maintaining and obtaining an optimal connection with your customers. After all, responding quickly and with the correct propositions to the changes of a customer has become second nature. Examples of outside-in approaches are:

  • Asking the right questions instead of sending information.
  • Communicating value for a customer instead of the ‘features’ and ‘functions’ of your product and service.

Defining the buying process, behaviour and (future) customer demand, including the expectations that your customers individually require, is decisive for implementing outside-in thinking and actions, the strategic organization and management of marketing and sales, as well as the culture, behaviour and development of new concepts, value propositions and the sales and delivery practices.

Value creation

Translating your portfolio and organization in terms of value is essential. The (future) issues of the customer are the starting point. Furthermore, actually delivering this value is just as crucial. In business-to-consumer marketing this is quite common: not the product but its experience or end value is central. What makes them happy? What in your concept, product or service will attract them? What elements in your organization ensure that customers are bound to continue? Today, those questions also need to be answered in a business-to-business environment. So it is important to work with the client to determine which issues are topical and what their expectations are regarding you as a supplier.

The basis for value creation is actually and demonstrably solving critical problems and satisfying (emotional) expectations. In addition, your organization must have a distinctive proposition against the competition. A good cooperation between marketing, sales and delivery is of major importance. As such every discipline has knowledge and experience in defining and resolving customer issues from their own perspective.
[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last] Sharing this knowledge and experience in marketing, sales and delivery not only leads to balanced and distinctive value propositions for the customer, but also to more positive energy, customer focus and motivated employees.

Continuous innovation

To achieve growth in sales and profitability it is important to focus on (potential) customers who give the largest contribution. This means making choices. After identifying a strategic group of customers, you develop propositions that respond to their problems. The extent to which propositions deliver customer value and are distinctive, determines the success of turnover and profitability development.

As a result of rapid developments, growth markets are maturing earlier allowing propositions to quickly become a commodity. Continuously innovating propositions and quickly bringing them to the market is crucial for creating growth under current market conditions.

Emotional bonding

Building an emotional relationship with your customers is very important. After all, the selection process, in addition to providing the desired value, is also determined by the emotional attachment to the organization and the personal relationship with the customer. Before relationship development was mainly done at the operational level, to sell value you also need to develop the relationship on a tactical and, depending on your proposition, a strategic level. Building a personal relationship is of course determined by chemistry. However, besides chemistry it is also about deepening and responding to the business and personal interests of the decision makers and influencers: a key success factor for obtaining a preferential position with the customer. This greatly increases the predictability of the winning odds (%) for opportunities and avoids possible surprises during the sales process.