Written by Alan McAnally-
In an analysis by CommonWealth Growth Strategies of our client’s customers a short while ago, we determined that approximately 35% of the companies and individuals that we spoke with actually questioned some or all of the value that they were receiving from several of our own clients. This is a very scary statistic, especially since providing tangible and measurable value to a customer is a company’s sole reason for being there. And remember, the values that are really important to your customer are exactly what your competitors are trying to find out.
Value is not just a single element; it encompasses a range of attributes that most customers assume as a part of doing business with you. Value can be separated into many components, but here are some particularly key expectations you need to consider:
Trust – Good Service – Responsiveness – Industry and Product Knowledge – Consistent Quality – Fair Pricing – Product Guarantees
Customers don’t normally change suppliers when they are convinced that they are obtaining some or all of these values. That said, sometimes they might need some help in understanding exactly what you are providing them and what it is you are doing for them. This might seems strange but it is true. You have to promote and communicate your successes because your competitors will surely taut theirs.
Within your customer’s organization, there are different individuals who are legitimate buying influences. They have an impact on your purchase orders or contracts. Do you know who they are and how they actually define the value that they expect? If you don’t know this, you need to regroup and prioritize the actions that you need to take.
Whatever you do, don’t ever confuse the customer’s routine to-do list with value; deep down they can be very different things. To keep the competition at bay, you always need to be on the offensive.
Actions to Consider:
- Know what your different customer contacts and other buying influences actually value. For some, it might be only cost, but for others, it can be such factors as safety, service levels, access to best practices, guaranteed budgets or costs, area or corporate support, etc.
- Ensure that you are effectively communicating to each individual buying influence exactly what you are doing to provide value to them. Communications and promotions are important. You have to find the most effect way to convey your company’s and product successes. This often gets lost in translation, particularly with executives at levels above your day to day liaison.
- Make a point to ensure that with every key contact, your interactions and business reviews are oriented around their specific expectations. Make sure that you know the answers to these two questions; (1) Do I know what they need, want and value and (2) am I providing this to them? In the final analysis, not much else really matters.