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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Becoming a Trusted Partner to Your Customer: “Value creation selling (VCS) is a customer-centric strategy. That means that the customer is at the center of everything that the company does” (p.35). If you want to be a trusted partner, burn that quote from Charan into every one of your employee’s brains. And the very heart of VCS is information—lots of it. He suggests five areas you must understand: 1) Your customer’s opportunities and competitive dynamics. A good starting place is to figure out how your products or services could help your customer compete better. He points out the differences between Target and Wal-Mart and how you’d approach each differently based on their competitive dynamics; 2) Your customer’s customer, and their competitors. This was a revelation for me. Think about how your customer makes their money by selling to their customers. Figure out how to help them do that, and you’re a high-value advisor. Simple. Profound; 3) How decisions are made. We often think it’s all about the purchasing department. Wrong. Charan suggests the old FBI mantra: ”Follow the Money.” As a former FBI agent, I strongly agree! 4) The customer’s culture and values. The corporate “symptoms” are often apparent if you just look for them. How do people negotiate, reward, or incentivize people? He uses Wal-Mart as an example of a culture based on tough vendor negotiations. 5) Customer goals and priorities. All companies have short and long-term goals, which sales teams need to know and have the “business acumen” to understand P&L, ROI, and other business issues to be of real value to the customer.

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