Every once in a while I have to take a moment to get my bearings regarding how are my customers seeing me?
This is important since through the years I have labeled by my customers in one of four boxes. And, each box carries certain characteristics that are helping or hindering my results.
So, let’s explore the four customer perceptions as they see us…
This is the lowest level you can have and is due to the fact you are concentrating on reacting to service requests and basing your sales activity on price over all other possibilities. Also, your focus is on your product or service more than customer issues.
- Problem Solver
A better position than the vendor tag, and it shows the customer thinks you can solve specific business or customer issues. You exhibit certain expertise in your dealings with the customer.
- Business Resource
Now you are making progress with your customer as a valuable asset for their company. Here you are seen as someone who can solve real business issues. You are focused upon helping the customer attain outcomes such as increase market share, enhancing their customer satisfaction and driving down their costs for higher margins. You also show an ability to manage across functional areas as well as all levels of their organization.
- Strategic Resource
This is the ultimate level for a b2b sales person. You are now invited into the inner circle to assist in creating mission critical applications and functions. And, therefore you are engaged in strategic activities which create competitive advantages for the customer and your company. Think about the opportunity of working closely with a customer’s executives to help build their outcomes and positive results all while helping your own company to meet it’s strategic objectives and goals.
Take this information and use it as a guide for your personal sales performance. Think about how your customers treat you – as a vendor or as a person the top executives seek out for advise.
If you are happy with being a vendor, well that is okay. Just do not expect to get high margins when playing the price game. However, you can work your accounts aggressively and push volume of business in this role.
However, if you are not pleased with your positioning you can begin to make changes. The biggest issue you will have however, is changing the customer’s current perception of you. It will take twice the effort to make that transition so your discipline will be tested from the very start. Stay the course and hit your objective at the top.