Sales and account service people talk about what this or that company says, or wants, or complains about, or what it is basing a buying decision on.
But companies can’t talk – so who, precisely, are these sales & service folks talking about?
This isn’t just an academic question, rather it goes to the heart of customer understanding. The reality is each “client” account is a simply an aggregation of different people, each with their own view of what they want, when they want it, how they want it, and how much it should cost.
And that’s just the high-level stuff.
Successful customer relationships involve a deep understanding of and appreciation for how your company’s services affect the individuals touched by those services. If the senior execs want to see a certain report, then the worker bees have to be able to quickly, easily, consistently, and accurately enter the necessary information.
If your client’s financial folks work best if they get invoices via EDI, then you need to work with their IT folks to set-up a smooth, easy, and fault-free interface and process. Given your client’s IT department is severely under-resourced, and is also your “customer”, you have to figure out how to make this work for them – which may mean you, the vendor, have to do all the work, or pay another vendor to do it for them.
Your business volume depends on your customer’s customers buying services that incorporate your products/services. So, the customer’s marketing and sales folks are also your customers. How can you help them be successful? How does your service/product help them sell more stuff? When problems arise, how will you find out about them and fix them as quickly and completely as possible?
Companies don’t buy and use your services or products, people do. For any product/service “bought” by a company, there are many individuals within that company who will help determine if that sale is a success, if your services are valued, if you get to continue supplying the service or perhaps get to deliver even more.
What does this mean for you?
Look wide and look deep, ask lots of questions and listen really hard – especially to the stuff you may not want to hear.