Customers First! That is a key mantra that has guided me personally and many companies who are working hard to delight their customers and demonstrate a mind-set of their organization’s top priority. But what does “Customer First!” mean and how do sales teams translate this mantra into valuable action and results for the customer?
To start off, we must realize that our customers are quite sophisticated and are familiar with standard sales tactics. As a sales professional, one of the things I dislike the most is being “sold to” by someone that is unaware of my goals and desires. I admit, early in my sales career as I tried to learn the “art of selling”, I lost sight of the customer’s goals and had to step back and re-focus on how I was managing the process. Similar to riding a bike, it is difficult to enjoy the ride when you stumble often. The good news is, once a sales team loses the urge to sell, they can focus on being curious about the customer’s goals, learning more about the organization and its priorities, and finally challenging customers to consider proven solutions that may not have previously been considered. This is a win for both the customer and for Spatial.
As I travel the world I am energized by meetings with customers to exchange ideas, plans for the future, and exploring ways to work better together. It is common to brainstorm ideas and explore best practices. I commonly ask customers to describe the mechanics of the best relationships they have with technology suppliers.
So what is the recipe for success in great customer relationships? In short, the key ingredients are trust, high quality business acumen, top notch technical capability, strong intra-company and inter-company communication, and the ability to deliver results.
Here at Spatial, we focus on adding an extra dose of one ingredient – trust! Similar to when you consult a doctor, you are not only looking for expertise, information, and guidance, but you are also looking for the feeling that you are being advised as if the doctor was a part of your family. Spatial sells software development toolkits that are embedded into, and an extension of, our customers’ software. Therefore, we are a part of our customers’ products and a key addition to their business and development efforts.
Now the question becomes, how do we build trust? The answer is simple, but the execution is not. Building trust takes time and is an amalgamation of many events that include meetings, projects, experiences, lunches, coffees, sharing ideas, and much more. Additionally, confidence is essential for building trust. Confidence to create plans, execute, and most importantly sometimes say “I made a mistake, I apologize, and I will fix the mistake.”
Best practices for setting up a structure for building trust involves a few essential items: communication at multiple levels of an organization; regular frequency of interaction (weekly for some projects; every six months for executive review as examples); and a balanced number of updates (good news and bad) on past and current projects.
There we have it, a recipe for success – A recipe that is proven to work. Therefore, IF we say “Customer First” AND have strong communication AND create an environment for a high level of trust, together we can solve puzzles that have never before been deciphered and create mutual and lasting value that will benefit our customers now and for many years. Together we can make this happen!