Customer Relationships

  • Customer Relationships

    Build Customer Relationships to Acquire, Retain and Upsell

    Different Motivations

    Customer relationships may be driven by the following motivations

    • Customer Acquisition
    • Customer Retention
    • Upselling and Cross selling into existingcustomer accounts

    The motivation may well be dependent on the maturity of a particular market segment and the product adoption status. Early days will expwerience acquisition strategies, whereras later on retention and upsell strategies will become more important.

    Different Categories

    There are a number of different categories of Customer Relationships that may co-exist in the compnay's relationship with a particular market segment

    • Personal Assistance - non dedicated human interaction
    • Dedicated Personal Assistance - dedicating a customer representative or team to an account

    Different Categories (contd.)

    • Self Service - No direct relationship with customers.Company provides all necessary information for customers to help themselves.
    • Automated Services - A more sophisticated form of customer self-service with automated processes eg website recognizing customers and giving advice based on preferences, history etc.
    • Communities - Increasingly, companies are useing user communities to become more involved with customers/prospects and to facilitate connections between community members to share experiences and help solve problems.
    • Co-creation - Companies are using customers to provide content eg You tube, Flickr, or provide information on products eg Amazon getting customers to write reviews on products.

    The rest of this section focussed on Customer acquisition and dedicated personal service categorie. Specificaloly it focusses on how to win New major accounts.

  • New Account Acquisition

    New Account Acquisition - Deliverables

    This section assumes that Customer Profile, a Value Proposition and an appropriate Sales Team already exists. It will focus on customer acquisition and specifically New Breakthrough Major Accounts.

    They are called Breakthrough because:

    • They may be the first customers for the company in a new market segment.
    • They may be turned into positive references.
    • They may form a Beachhead and facilitate further sales.
    • They will have a significant impact on the achievement of targets.

    The Deliverables are as follows:

    • New Accounts that deliver:
    • Target Achievement
    • Positive Customer References
    • A Beachhead in target market segment
    • Increased Market Visibility
    • Sales-force Confidence

  • New Account Acquisition

    New Account Acquisition - Method: Value, References, Plans & Process

    Winning major accounts starts with a solid Value Proposition that is understood and agreed by the customer.
    This is most powerful when backed up by existing relevant Positive References.
    Territory plans are used to focus on the best potential Accounts. Account and Opportunity Plans enable the best use of company resources to create the most effective solution.
    A tailored Sales Process enables effective selling of complex service solutions. It combines leadership, teamwork, good communication to deliver optimum effectiveness and efficiency. This section assumes that the processes and systems described in the New Sales Team section are in place.

    The following principles will be used with the Sales Process:- areas:

    • People:- Creating relationships and gaining the trust of people is the foundation for success.
    • Choosing the right Competitive Strategy:- Based on product maturity & value, your relationship with the customer and the competition.
    • Managing Key Players:- Understand their needs, how they vary over the sales cycle and the appropriate messages to deliver.
    • Qualification:- More time in qualification ensures that the solution proposed has best chance of success. Lead with value then continue to focus on value throughout qualification.
    • Negotiate and Close:- Prepare well. Ensure value is recognised by customer as compelling.

  • New Account Acquisition
    Develop Relationships

    New Account Acquisition - Develop Relationships

    The objective is to to build trust, build solid relationships and eventually become a trusted advisor. Relationships are easier to create and build if clear value can be offered and delivered. This requires diligence, professionalism, fanatical preparation and attention to detail. Trust is difficult to build and can be very easy to break with one mistake or one missed promise.

    • "People buy from people (that take the time and effort to fully understand them and their problems)"
    • "Leave your ego at the door". The ego can impair listening skills and foster impatience. Advice must be requested. Otherwise it may have no value or be misunderstood.

    • "Invest in relationships and build trust".
    • "Best relationships are based on value". Value must be measured by the customer. A solution to a known or latent pain is of value
    • "Sales customers and customers want the same thing". They are on the same side with the same objective.
    • "Sales persons are decision enablers". Sales persons provide the information to allow customers to make a decision that is right for their business.

  • New Acquisition
    Manage Key Players

    It's about managing the Key Players

    The Key Players in the buying team comprise:

    • The Executive:- The individual with the power and the budget capability.
    • Middle Management:- Delegated by the executive to manage the buying process.
    • Operational:- The users of the product.
    • Purchasing:- The professional buyers.

    These players are involved at different stages of the buying process. Their concerns change over time.

    Communicating with these players is determined by the stage of the buying process and the concern level at the time.For instance with the executive the following communication is envisaged:

    • Planning (Set up business initiatives that will address pain):- Strategic Dialogue
    • Determine Needs:- Relationship Maintenance
    • Evaluate Alternatives:- Relationship Maintenance
    • Evaluate Risk (Overcome risk concerns):- Value Communication

  • New Account Acquisition

    Focussing On Qualification

    Sales people must strive to get in first and control the sale. That enables the competitive strategy that is most likely to achieve success. This requires finding buyers that are often not currently looking, stimulating their interest and then being the one that the rest are compared to. Qualification requires a lot of effort and in the ideal sale comprises 80% of the effort. The more effort spent in qualification, the less is necessary in proposing and closing. Some preliminary principles:-

    • Dignose before you prescribe:- Understand what the issues are before providing a solution. This sounds self evident but sales people can often be too impatient and may go into proposing mode too early.
    • Stop for yellow lights:- When buyers raise concerns make sure that they are answered fully as if buried may in time completely ruin the opportunity.

    Key principles in qualification:-

    • No pain, no change:- If the organization is experiencing no pain then there will be no reason to implement a new solution. The pain may be latent and may need to be pointed out. However, if there is actually no pain then move on.
    • Get access to power:- You can't sell to people who can't buy and if they do not have the power they do not have the budget or the influence to buy.
    • Agree a vision of a solution:- Work with the customer to agree on a generic solution to pain in their organization that is based on the product differentiators.
    • Deliver Value:- Get agreement that the solution proposed provides compelling value. If the value is not clear or compelling enough then the sale will not proceed successfully.
    • Control the sale:- Get in early lead the sale. That enables the competitive strategy that is most likely to achieve success. Manage the key players. Identify the pain. Get it admitted. Agree a solution. Agree how much value is provided and that it is compelling. Provide an evaluation plan. Develop and execute a clear negotiation strategy.

  • New Account Acquisition
    Competitive Strategy

    Choose the Right Competitive Strategy

    The messaging must be tailored to the market segment being addressed. Early market messages will focus on the product technology differentiators whereas the mainstream market messages will focus on business solution differentiators and reference stories. The opportunity strategy is driven by how early the opportunity is entered, company resources and current product status.

    • Preferred Strategy:- Get in first and lead the way. Set the requirements, be the one that the competition is compared to.
    • Active Opportunity Strategies:- Where the opportunity is already active and in progress and there is most likely a competitor leading the way.

    Active Strategies are split into Lead and Fallback strategies in order of preference:-

    • “End Around”:- Change the requirements to suit vendor differentiators.
    • “Head to Head”:- Compete head to head - best when resources are much larger than competition.
    • “Divide and Conquer”:- When the vendor can't win the whole opportunity. Often used as an account entry strategy.
    • “Stall”:- Used when in account and when the vendor needs time to develop a competitive product.

  • New Account Acquisition
    Negotiate & Close

    Prepare well for Negotiation & Close

    • Don't close before its closable:- Buyers will close when they are ready and when they have identified a compelling reason to do so.
    • Closing is the evolution of a good sale:- If enough effort is put into qualification & developing & proposing and enough of compelling value is identified then a sale closure is inevitable.
    • Know get, give and when to walk for success:- Negotiation is about knowing as much as you can before hand. This includes when you should walk and what you must get for what you have to give.

    • Learn the techniques of "shark" buyers - These can include allocating duplicate power sponsors, never let you know you are winning, never let you know you are losing, take it away at least once, negotiate price in reverse order, are aware of your deadlines (and use them), will take what you put on the table (and ask for more).

  • Negotiate & Close

    Focus on Value in Negotiation & Close

    Key to effective negotiation and close is the presentation of value. This must be in a language and format agreed and understood by the customer. It must hit all the key requirements of the customer such as ROI, pain removed, benefits delivered, time scales and responsibilities.