Customer cross-functional collaboration happens when your business model is based on horizontal workflow and business development throughput.
How many of you engage in customer cross-functional collaboration when there’s no immediate business on the table? It’s similar to how sports players perform when they don’t have the ball. It makes a big difference to how things play out down the field.
Customer cross-functional collaboration is not the exclusive domain of the sales team. Your business has continuous opportunities to collaborate with your customers on a daily basis, not just when you are executing an RFP or pitching to a buying committee.
If you are the CEO of a small to medium size business or an entrepreneur, how you allocate your time in between project completion can make the difference between a feast-or-famine revenue stream or a continuous flow of cash.
Customer cross-functional collaboration continuously engages your customer in dialogue. Not just one contact in your customer’s organization, but their entire team.
Customer cross-functional collaboration requires that everyone in your company acquires their own customer contact, not just the Purchasing Agent. Everyone has an opportunity to play the ball.
Collaboration includes activities such as:
- Sharing a white paper or information about a conference which you feel they might find interesting;
- Inquiring about their participation in a professional activity that you would like to have more information about;
- Congratulating them on their award of a new contract or certification;
- Congratulating them on the purchase of new equipment or award.
You are continuing your collaboration, your play, even when you don’t have the ball in your hands. You maintain your interest in your customer beyond simply reacting when they toss you an RFP or RFQ.
Your entire company, not just the sales guys and gals, is involved in customer cross-functional collaboration. Your emphasis is business development.
Your folks glean insights from their group of customer contacts. You learn about your customer’s internal processes, practices, triggers, preferences. You all become more proactive and anticipatory about, yes, future projects in their pipeline before they are released to the universe for proposal.
Otherwise, you are just cherry-picking under the net, hoping someone will pass you the ball. What are the odds that will happen?
If you want your team to score, develop a culture of customer cross-functional collaboration.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a management consultant and business coach. Babette develops business, technical and engineering professionals of worth. She remodels startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies experiencing difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams.
A recognized Top 50 Marketing & Sales Influencer, Babette’s blog won the 2014 Bronze Medal, Top Sales & Marketing Awards, Top Sales World. Her book on cross-functional communication and collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.