Challenging Our Customers’ Status Quo


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We all know to acquire a new customer, we need to incite them to change, to get them to think differently about their business. Without this, they have no need to buy whatever it is we sell.

Most of the time, sadly, sales people are in react mode. The customer has already decided to change, they’ve scoped their problem, determined their needs, and are on a path to solve the problem. And at some point in their buying process, we try to get them to go on the journey with us.

Sometimes, we get into an account early, we actually help them think differently, we get them to recognize in today’s competitive environment, the status quo is the kiss of death. If customers (and us), aren’t constantly changing, improving, challenging their assumptions about how they serve their customers and their own business operations, they will become irrelevant.

We win new accounts by finding customers who want to change or inciting them to change, then supporting them in their buying journey.

But now we’ve landed them. They are our customers. We want to retain them, we want to grow them. Internally, we use words like upsell, cross sell, but we would never be that crass to our customers.

Above all we have to protect these customers that have become “our accounts.”

What do we do? Do we challenge? Do we protect the status quo? After all, we are now part of the status quo.

There are actually many that say we need to protect the status quo, we should focus our efforts on retaining, then finding niches where we can grow and expand.

It’s a remarkably irresponsible and arrogant strategy. Not just for us, but for our customers.

Think about it for a moment. If success in today’s world means continued improvement, innovation, change, constant transformation, why would our customers want to protect their status quo? At least if they want to be leaders and grow.

They are or should be constantly looking for new ideas and for help. Who better to help them than the people they currently do business with? After all, we earned the business by helping them change and innovate, shouldn’t we doing what they found important and caused them to choose us?

How can we help them better utilize the products they currently use? How can we help them expand, doing more? (OMG, did I just introduce the heretical idea of cross sell/upsell?) How do we find new opportunities in new parts of the account to help them grow and achieve? (Oops, there it is again, sorry, I can’t restrain myself.)

It’s remarkably arrogant to think that just because we want to protect the status quo, that is our install base/incumbency, the customer won’t be looking in other places to change! Or listening to others that may be helping them challenge the status quo.

Our competition, if they are doing their jobs, will be talking to our customers, challenging the status quo — us! They will be talking to our customers about change, about improvement.

Our best “protect and defend” strategy can never be the status quo! It’s wrong for our customers, it’s irresponsible for our companies!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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