Strategico’s Strata of Customer Value©
Building positive, trusting and sustainable customer relationships is a critical role of every manager. Since relationships are how customer value is communicated by a business-to-business organization, management must treat the responsibility as a part-time role can prevent ultimate success of any organization.
Mentioning the word “process” to a sales person, is often acknowledged by the role of their eyeball! There is a perception, common among seasoned sales professionals, that building strong, positive, sustainable relationships is more art-form, or who-you-know, than science. Therefore being successful is often relegated to those sales artists, or to those well-connected sales person and not to sales professionals who understand that a proven, systemic, repeatable and measurable ales process is the best way to ensure success. For this reason, many organizations cannot replicate or the success of their most successful relationship builders when hiring new staff.
Sales process must be be customized to the particular industry, organizational competencies and management that monitor its application according to the sales tools and skills that exist within the relationship team. One constant reality, is that the sales process should quickly define, according to the organization’s market position, how to quickly qualify (or disqualify) opportunities. Disqualified opportunities are the bane of many sales organizations because management fails to recognize the inherent cost of seeking never-to-be-qualified opportunities, Therefore, one of the most critical sales tool that can be developed from a consistent sales process, in a rapid opportunity measurement, that quickly reduces the sales burden of pursuing unqualified leads generated by indirect channels.
By definition a process is systemic, sustainable and measurable at multiple input and output stages. This suggests it should be customized to suit the organization’s business environment, the target customers and managed tightly by management according to measurement information that is readily available.
Good relationship building tools can be “weapons” of success. If an organization feels that relationship building is more art-form, or dependent on personal connections, they will likely play down the need for sales tools, and leave their relationship builders (sales) to sink or swim based on their background and disposition.
Relationship building tools need not be expensive to create or reproduce. For example, one of the best sales tools relationship builders and management can develop, is a reference letter library. This sales tool works for those who are not artistic, nor well connected. Unfortunately, many organizations rarely understand their customer value and are therefore unable to share it with new staff.
Relationship builders, within a strong sales management environment, repeatedly performing a proven, systemic, and measurable sales process, utilize sales tools, necessarily have strong relationship building skills. Those skills that are honed by repeated application of a defined process are easily measurable, allow more accurate and consistent revenue forecasts and best of all, are more easily recruited for the role.
No combination of management, process, tools or skills can be leveraged to build strong, positive, sustainable relationships without good people.. Certainly role differences can co-exist between “farmers” and “hunters” with a relevant compensation system to support performance management. That said, lip-service is often paid to resource intensive tasks of building accurate job descriptions, determining and executing recruitment strategies, offering appropriate compensation plans and applying systematic selection and job interview techniques which are not considered as value-added.activity.