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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CUSTOMERS - What Do They Want????!!!

Have customers changed since the downturn in our economy? You bet!

What's different? Plenty but mostly it comes back to lack of confidence in what's ahead (as in predicting what will happen during the next 90 days or so) and hunkering down in response to recent events (like investment loss and non-availability of funds).

The organizations that are successful are the ones which are asking their customers and clients what they want and need, then providing it. Others are doing 'business as usual' in these unusual times - seems like an oxymoron to me - and wondering why sales are lagging (or missing).

'What can I do to help' is a productive start to a conversation that can end in a sale - sure is better than 'we're here when you are ready to buy.'

So as leaders, what how do we proceed?

    * Realize it is NOT business as usual, but that the fundamentals continue to be valid;

    * Initiate conversation about what is wanted and what is needed (may be different);

    * Be open and flexible and adaptive to new approaches and ideas, BUT also take counsel from your 'gut' and experience;

    * Keep in clear focus that the desired outcome is a successful result -- do not let ego or saving face frustrate achieving it; and

    * Know that in a service business, you are providing service - and its effectiveness is in the eyes of the recipient, not in the energy or activity expended.

If we apply these elements to addressing our customers' needs, will we be overwhelmed with success and business lined up at the door?  Well, there is no magic here, but it will yield far better results than pretending that the world and its markets are the same as they were.

What can you add to the discussion?

3 comments:

Dan Wasserman said...

Great post Jack!

I had breakfast this AM with an old friend who said much of what you did. The only thing he added was "be prepared for smaller commitments."

His current experience is that over the past six weeks they landed three smaller deals after a nearly six-month hiatus.

The good news is they landed the deals!

However, on probing I found out the way they landed them was LISTENING to what the client wanted and RESPONDING to the request.

Dan

Dick Davies said...

Hi Dan!

Good comment.

Many anecdotes from all over may get us up to data, eh?

Jack Gates said...

Dan:

Great addition to the view of current conditions - in addition to longer time till sale, the duration is shorter and the scope is smaller.

So, 'bundling' to get a longer term or to increase contract volume will probably not work for today, BUT speaking to doing a staged project with multiple short, focused elements and a 'continue when ready' for subsequent elements may be a better approach.

Thanks for sharing the insight about the reluctance to commit to larger assignments.

-- Jack