TOOLS FOR SUCCESS — LEADERSHIP IN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
5) Constant updating of the “enlarged buying center” mailing list of target customers and prospects. There’s a sea change of buyer turnover, accompanied by buying positions with expanded management responsibilities and less experience. It follows that these critical positions of influence depend on senior management and close associates to guide their decisions—including major awards and changes in suppliers. However, most supplier reps don’t call on the “enlarged buying center,” and these influential names don’t appear on a supplier’s mailing list. In effect, it’s the suppliers who are most effective communicating to these positions of influence that are, predictably, most successful.
6) Identification and frequent review of your organization’s market differentiation. Why and which customers prefer to buy from your organization is a “moving target.” Successful suppliers are relentlessly reviewing what customers tell them (and don’t tell them) and integrating this information with a tapestry of other market information that, over time, sculptures their message to their target accounts. Most buyers are asking, one way or another, “What do you have that I need and don’t already have?” If you can’t answer that question successfully, odds are you’re a “low price wins” supplier.
7) Educational programs and training for employees and customers, which serve to improve company performance. Education and training of employees needs to precede education and training for customers. And, in today’s conditions, it’s expected. However, few organizations carve their education and training program(s) to support their desired (a) performance objectives and (b) market differentiation.
8) Frequent customer feedback, such as major customer surveys that “test” strategic and day-to-day performance issues. Most organizations don’t know how their customers really experience them, and too many don’t want to know because that requires them to change.
Major customer surveys can be used to (a) uncover significant amounts of additional business at current customers, (b) identify strategic services that buyers are interested in pursuing (e.g., mailing, digital asset management, and storage and fulfillment), and (c) opportunities to improve day-to-day performance. When I hear a CEO say, “Let’s wait and conduct the survey when we’re doing a better job with our customers,” I tend to respond with, “How will you know when that is?” Other customer feedback opportunities include (1) periodic business reviews, (2) press check surveys, (3) plant tour surveys and (4) job surveys.