Once you close the sale, how much attention do you really pay to your customers?
Customer development is a continuous customer improvement process. If your small to medium size business or startup only pays attention to customers when something goes wrong, you aren’t improving anything.
Customer development is part of everyone’s job description no matter what your job title or function. It’s not just up to the sales guys and gals. You hired outsourced Hunter types. Chances are they have a limited post-sale attention span once the ink is barely dry on the virtual signed contract.
The real money is made, however, in your business’s customer development initiatives. The logic of that statement flies in the face of how most businesses (including startups) are organized and how most sales teams are motivated.
Buyers are a skeptical and jaded lot these days. They expect to be disappointed by you at any time pre-, during and post-sale. They are looking for areas of disappointment. Talk about tough customers.
The manner in which you provide customer attention – or inattention – is the easiest way to disappoint. Consider how your project manager accepts the baton hand-off from the sales team. Consider how the engineering and IT teams interact with each other, let alone with the PM. Consider how your receptionist answers the phone or email. Consider how your deliverable is packaged and distributed to your customer’s loading dock.
Customer development involves all-hands-on-deck. It is a continuous exercise. It is a never-ending one.
Your company’s customer development process (yes, there really is a process) yields retained customers. It involves more than service delivery. It involves more than having high quality, well-priced products which are delivered on-time, per the customer’s specifications. Everyone is trying to do this.
Your company’s customer development process involves continuously searching for information, studies, conferences – sources of continuing education – which will contribute to your customer’s sustainability.
That means you have to be plugged in to knowledge management resources. You have to read. And who has time? You don’t and your customer doesn’t either.
Therein lies the basis of competitive differentiation for you as a Businessperson of Worth.
No matter whether you are a sales person, a CEO, an administrative assistant, an engineer, a welder, or a delivery agent, the steps you take to become more than your job title yields excellent outcomes for you career-wise and for your customers, ROI-wise.
Why limit your thinking to the confines of your job description or the close of a sale? Continuous customer development is the nature of today’s globally competitive business environment.
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 quick-read eformat book on communication and collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.