What We Think Of Our Customers Colors Our Engagement


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Someone called seeking coaching on a specific deal.  He had fallen into traps which blinded him in moving forward with a winning strategy.

He started the conversation with, “The key decisionmaker is really a jerk!  He’s power hungry, his people want to do something with us, they’ve presented compelling arguments, but he doesn’t want to go forward…….   They are losing so much opportunity, if they only they would implement our system……”

A few moments later in the conversation, I learned, “…..He’s relatively new in his role, he’s turning everything upside down, his past experience is with our competitor, so he’s looking at bringing them in.  It’s the wrong thing for them, he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t get the path they were on with us……”

After he went through his dump about this “problem customer,” I asked, “Would you feel the same if he felt that way about you and your solutions versus the competitors?”

His immediate response was, “Of course not….., but he doesn’t and he’s really screwing everything up.  No one likes him, he’s just out for himself and is too political…..!”

I must hear variants of this discussion every day.  People who are aligned with us are great customers, people who are aligned with our competitors are jerks, problems,  A**holes, and worse.

To be honest, every once in a while, I fall victim to that thinking–perhaps only for a few minutes, myself.

There are so many problems with this thinking, not just that it’s wrong and unfair, but this type of mindset colors every interaction we have with these people.

As I talked to my friend, I asked, “How do meetings go with him?”

His response was, “They are OK, I can see him and talk to him, but I know they are a waste of my time–he just is unreasonably biased to the competition, he won’t give us a shot.”

His mindset was closed, he was already defeated, but he continued going through the “motions,” though I don’t know why.

Our mindset influences how we react to every situation we encounter.  If we don’t like or respect the person we are dealing with, we telegraph that–not through our words, but through our attitudes and behaviors, and through how we “hear” what others are saying.

Our customers may be describing a glass that is half full, but if we have a closed mindset or have negative opinions about that customer, we will only perceive a glass that is half empty.  All our responses will be based on that perception.

Customers will start seeing these reactions and, naturally, will react negatively–creating a self fulfilling prophecy.

These are all self defeating behaviors, they shape and influence everything we do, they shape and influence how we interact with others, they shape and influence how others react to and respond to us.

It’s not the customer problem–though we tend to attribute it to the customers–as the individual I referenced at the top of this blog.  It’s always our own problem.

If you can’t change your mindset about the customer, you might as well walk away, you won’t win, and it’s all because of you.

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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