Are you REALLY Customer-Aligned?


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What was your 2010 New Year Business resolution?  The one I’ve been hearing most often from Chief Executives and Sales and Marketing leaders is to “get closer to their customers” – which seems like a laudable objective.

Who wouldn’t want to?  However, it seems that becoming REALLY “customer-centric” or “customer-focused” or “customer aligned” (choose whichever term you prefer) is proving harder than it first appears.  The indications are becoming rather too familiar:

  • “Customer-Aligned” organisations that still describe themselves in terms of who they are, or what products or services they offer, rather than what they enable their customers to achieve…
  • “Customer-Focused” sales people who can’t wait to jump in and prescribe their solution the moment the prospect admits to a problem, rather than taking their time to diagnose what may really be going on…
  • “Customer-Centric” marketing organisations that still don’t have a very clear idea of who their best prospects are, what really matters to them, who they turn to for advice, or how or why they choose to buy…

Dangerous attraction…

The list could go on.  It’s not because these people, or these companies, refuse to acknowledge the benefits of customer alignment.  It’s because the systems they work within seem to have a dangerous magnetic attraction that keeps tugging them back to thinking in terms of their company, their products or their services.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a cultural thing, and that changing it is going to require more than sloganising.  Where customer-centricity works, there seems to be an institutionalised curiosity about who their most valuable prospects are, what their most pressing issues might be, and how they go about making buying decisions.

The insights within…

The sad thing is, many of these insights already exist with organisations that are struggling to become customer-focused.  The front line sales people and other customer-facing employees often have invaluable insights – and would be prepared to share them if only they were asked.

I don’t think this is usually an issue of willingness – it’s an issue of process.  With this in mind, I’ve recently revamped our methodology to help make it easier for our clients to capture and apply the information.

Download the check list…

But what I’d like to share with you right now is a simple 15-point check-list that captures much of what we’ve observed.  Please download it here.  I hope that it might stimulate some fresh perspectives – please drop me a line if you would like to share them with me.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Apollo
Bob Apollo is the CEO of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, the B2B sales performance improvement specialists. Following a varied corporate career, Bob now works with a rapidly expanding client base of B2B-focused growth-phase technology companies, helping them to implement systematic sales processes that drive predictable revenue growth.


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