Those of you involved in the manufacturing and engineering intensive Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ecosystem wrestle with this scenario every day, don’t you? Some clients “click” with you and others are a nightmare to work with. Some engineered outcomes are marvelous. Others are not.
First, focus on the factors contributing to client success.
When you develop processes and practices for optimizing client collaboration, clients become more successful. Together, you co-create more enduring and valuable outcomes.
As a result, your company becomes more embedded in your clients’ organizations. Consequently, your rate of customer retention is improved.
Not only that. This formula is a great way to stabilize cash flow. Also, executing this strategy attracts a higher caliber workforce.
Why? Client success breeds your own organization’s success. And vice versa.
And talented professionals like to work for successful organizations who “do it right” because they “get it right.” Have I just described your organization?
The first order of business for optimizing client collaboration involves discovering who your best customers are.
Who are your best customers?
These best customers tend to bring out your best work, creativity and innovation. You, in turn, have the same effect on them.
We all agree that best customers are like a match made in heaven. Yet, sometimes finding these customers seems hap-hazard rather than well-planned and intentional.
In general, your best customers:
1. Represent a mix of new projects and repeat business;
2. Respectfully send RFPs (Requests for Proposal) in advance of deadlines;
3. Consider you a go-to resource even when there are no projects on the table;
4. Constantly offer you opportunities to innovate rather than replicate;
5. Perceive you as valuable, rather than as a commodity; and
6. Stretch your own professional development boundaries and continuous learning.
Optimizing client collaboration with best customers leads to break-through business development and design and engineering outcomes.
I’m not talking fantasy here. The reality of optimizing client collaboration is rooted in how well you have optimized collaboration with your internal customers: your co-workers.
For starters, when organizations encourage sales, business development, IT and engineering functions to work collaboratively instead of in silos, they become more competitive. Also, these companies have a better understanding of industry trends because they share information across the organization instead of remaining confined to professional silos. As a result, their output makes their external clients more competitive.
Finally, by continuously working across disciplines within your own organization, teams impact how client-side teams work, as well. After a while, your organization is top-of-mind for clients, when considering new projects. Consequently, you catalyze customer loyalty as well as customer retention.
To start optimizing client collaboration, download my Grade Your Customers Worksheet.
Let’s face it, you may not be able to optimize the quality of collaboration with all your clients. However, that assessment is important when allocating time and resources for proposal and project planning.
Why waste your time on customer types who really do not appreciate what you bring to their table? Identify those A-List Customers. Oh, and make some hard calls when you find out who your C-List customers actually are.
Then determine what optimizing client collaboration really looks like.
On the one hand, be honest with yourselves. Is your current organization even capable of consistently executing this type of strategy? Alternatively, are there specific teams or individuals who best lend themselves to becoming part of our client optimization team?
We all tend to try to do things by ourselves. Because we are smart people and feel we know all the answers.
However, is your pipeline is full of stalled proposals because the decision making process is bogged down? For starters, you may need objective discovery to get you unstuck. The choice is yours. What are you waiting for?
Babette Ten Haken is a strategist, facilitator, coach and storyteller. She specializes in the highly collaborative, technical- and engineering- Industrial Internet of Things ecosystems. Her One Millimeter Mindset(TM) programs bring clarity to the chaos of stalemated conversations between engineers, salespeople, IT, legal, finance, Quality and marketing folks. You get the picture. Her book of collaboration hacks, Do You Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com