Do your actions match your ambition – the key to better customer relationships
Defining the best customer relationship for your business
Lost in the middle of copywriters nightmare, on corporate websites, sales presentations and on various marketing collateral you will find the words “preferred supplier”
Usually as part of some “vision statement” projecting a “desire to work with you as a preferred supplier”
It’s a bit like performing in the Premier League where your key objective is to avoid relegation rather than challenge for Champions League places – one eye on the bottom rather than both eyes on the top.
Sales executive, business development executive, account executive, sales consultant and while the language may change every so often, the sentiment should remain the same.
I have always worked to an 8-stage sales process, where the final stage is more of a strategic partnership than sales or account management – a point where there is a mutual connection and understanding of each other’s processes, business objectives and long term strategic goals.
Where the business development function becomes part of the client’s strategic vision with an open understanding of what is required to support and occasionally, challenge it.
Where it is more about proactivity than reactivity and where “intelligence” is what’s really for sale.
That intelligence is not just product/service based but more often than not lies well beyond the typical pay-grade of the average sales person.
There are various definitions of client relationships (respectful nod to CSO Insights…):
– Level 1: “Approved Vendor”
– Level 2 “Preferred Supplier”
– Level 3; “Solutions Consultant”
– Level 4: “Strategic Advisor”
– Level 5: “Trusted Partner”
If you are an organisation with Level 5 aspirations, then you need to monitor closely your sales process, your sales messaging (in particular your customer value proposition) and implement an on-going development programme for your business development team.
The focus of your business development team needs to move away from “features and benefits” to one of inspired telling of your “brand story” and a genuine empathy for your clients needs.
Being a “Preferred Supplier” should never be enough for you or for your client.
Shift Control is a business improvement consultancy based in Belfast and operating across Ireland and the UK. We specialise in business development strategy, brand strategy, customer value proposition development, sales training and sales strategy.
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