Things Are Getting Confusing?!?


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We have a rich array of products and solutions to offer our customers. There are multiple channels for our customers to buy our products. We can’t become expert in everything.

Everyday I work with organizations and sales people facing very tough issues in working with their customers. Trying to understand the breadth of their products and how they go to market is confusing to them. Organizations are having an increasingly complex array of solutions presented to their customers through a complex array of channels. It’s difficult to keep up with them within our own organizations–but think about it from the customers’ perspectives!

The more complicated or confusing we make it for our customers to work with us in acquiring our products and in working with us, the more likely they are to go somewhere else–somewhere where it’s easier to buy!

Think about these:

Can your customers acquire the same products through multiple channels? If they can and if the channels are relatively undifferentiated in value delivery, they will always buy from the channel offering it at the lowest price. So are you setting your channels to compete with each other, rather than the competition.

Do you have differing sales forces selling different products from your company to the same customer? Are your sales people competing with each other to sell “their” product, rather than selling the right solution to your customer? Are your sales people “stopping” the sale of one product from your company, trying to sell their product–only because that’s the one they get credit for? Does your customer see this behavior? Customers aren’t interested in your sales people competing for who gets credit and who doesn’t, they want their problems solved.

Who “owns” the relationship with the customer? When you pose that question within your company, does no one raise their hand? Do lots of people raise their hand? Either case is bad–the customer needs to know who is accountable for their relationship with your company? Where does the customer go when they can’t get a problem solved? Where does the customer go when they need to get something accomplished? It shouldn’t be the customer’ jobs to figure it out–in fact they won’t make it their jobs, they’ll find someone who will make it easy for them, they will go to the company where one person raises her hand and says, “I’m accountable for the relationship.” (This doesn’t mean they don’t have a team they rely on and they make it easy for the customer to know who to go to, but when all else fails, there needs to be one person accountable for the relationship?)

Too often, we don’t develop our go to market or sales deployment strategies based on making it easy for our customers to do business. Instead we base them on our internal operations, fiefdoms and profit centers–imposing our own organizational confusion on the customer.

Our businesses are complex. We have multiple divisions and business units, with wide arrays of product offerings. We have many routes to market. We have specialist and overlay sales organizations. We have partners that may compete with our own direct sales people. We worry about our efficiency in getting these to market–reducing costs of selling and customer acquisition. These are all important, but are meaningless if they create confusion to the customer or raise their cost of acquisition.

How easy do you make it for your customer to buy from you? If you are confused, if your sales people or partners are confused, then it looks much worse from a customer perspective–and you are losing business!

Make it easy for your customers to buy. Start from the customer and design your process from the outside in. If you have multiple channels and relationships, coordinate them an manage them–it’s not your customers’ job to do this. Above all, make sure someone is accountable for the overall relationship and the customer knows who that person is.

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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