RUSSELL DALGLEISH says you can better position yourself to not only meet, but actually exceed your customer’s needs.
In the world of B2B sales we focus enormous amounts of energy on identifying, quantifying, and trying to understand our customer’s needs in an attempt to match our proposition to the perception we have built of what the customer wants to buy, and therefore improve our chances of securing that critical sale.
But how often do we consider that our customer is involved in exactly the same activity with their customers? Have you ever considered the needs of your customer’s customer (CC)?
I would put it to you that if you performed this activity, you will better position yourself to not only meet, but actually exceed your customer’s needs.
In my capacity as an adviser to the leadership team in any company part of my role is to bring a fresh perspective and part of this involves attempting to understand the broader market landscape. Yes, I look at competitors, market trends and the future effects of technology but most importantly I shine light on my clients, customers, customer’s needs (a mouthful but I’m sure you get the picture).
This process of focusing on the CC needs is best performed using a framework which I define as FuseP, ie. Functionality, Useability, Service, Environment and Price.
The key is to first understand the functionality that is required for your CC to purchase from your customer. This action should be performed from the mindset of a consultant, ie. Do not consider your actual product or service instead focus on what your CC demands.
Never has useability in terms of how to acquire and use a product or service been more important than now. For example, in the world of Apps either the user can understand immediately how to use the application, or they will simply discard and look elsewhere. Work hard to quantify exactly how your CC wants to experience the product/service sold by your customer. You may be surprised to discover that you identify elements that your customer has missed.
We all have different expectations of service levels dependent on the product or service we are engaging with, but we also understand when we have been let down or when our expectations have been exceeded. You understand what your customers expectations are but what is required is to quantify the levels of service expected by your CC. A great way to sample this is to “mystery shop”, ie. Become a client of your customer and see how they perform and if this matches your expectations. It can also be useful to engage a third party, eg. An undergraduate team to survey a selection of your CC but here it’s critical to perform this action confidentially.
Environmental concerns are coming more and more to the fore as we consider issues such as governance, safety, and the environment. Your customer will no doubt have detailed their needs to you but it is certain that the CC will have their own. Understand and ensure you exceed these. I’ve found that there is great value in looking at the language used by the CC to define their environmental requirements, reflect these in your marketing collateral.
Finally, we come to the subject of price, as in every commercial transaction this is the most sensitive issue. You have a price to your customer for your service and they have a price to their end customer. Understanding not only the actual numbers involved but even more critically the pricing models used is incredibly useful.
Once you have this analysis ready you are then well positioned to rework your value proposition for your customer to better appeal to their market. But even more important is that you can display your understanding of your customer’s market in terms that they will understand, immediately positioning yourself in a better light in comparison to your competitors.
What I have found as well is that by focusing on the FuseP areas and sharing these with your team you improve all engagements with your customer, feed valuable insight into your product/service roadmap and position yourself as an expert in the needs of your CC. And, believe me, that’s where you want to be.
Russell Dalgleish is co-founder and chairman of Scottish Business Network