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Who, precisely, are you talking about?

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.

4 thoughts on “Who, precisely, are you talking about?”

  1. Great post…not only listen hard and ask lots of questions, but ask lots of hard questions. Getting to no could mean getting to yes.

  2. Good points Joe. I think of your sales & service model with a twist when I think of the worker’s compensation environment nationally. There are so many ‘national’ salespeople these days trying to sell a product in mass quantity with a number of service angles to be considered that likely are not. When a national contract is consumated, I highly doubt that the impact on service is evaluated as closely as it should be. More likely, service is minimized and cost savings are the focus and celebrated as the victory. But that “aggregation of different people” who are then required to abide by the contract have to deal with the consequences of the service that is or is not provided.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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