Use your new knowledge of your customers industries, market trends and business plans to pre-empt their needs- Julian Patel

Use your new knowledge to pre-empt their needs- Julian Patel

We all know the market in which we operate is changing. It’s always been competitive with many players striving to win market share, but over the years, the tactics have changed. Competing via price will not guarantee you a sale and could seriously erode your profit margins. The New Year presents an opportunity to find a new and sustainable way to unlock the incremental revenue possibilities in each and every one of your customer accounts. But how?

Try on your customers’ shoes in 2016

When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you see the world through their eyes and see their pains and agenda. From a business perspective, it can be a real strategy for changing your sales dynamic – away from the supplier/buyer relationship to becoming trusted advisor. So why not try something slightly different this year with this 5-step approach:

1 Don’t get stuck in a rut

By this I mean don’t keep banging on with the same account contact behaviour. You may habitually call each customer every six weeks to find out if they need anything regardless of their buying history. Examine this routine, talk to your customers and plan your call schedule according to what they tell you.

2 Get to know your customers better

This could be as simple as talking in more depth to your contacts, it may be scheduling bi-annual calls with the business owner and listening to their plans and ambitions. It may even be to arrange a working breakfast or evening networking event to discuss plans in a more relaxed setting. The key thing here is to ask questions and listen to the answers, for example if they are buying hardware from you, but not supplies, ask why.

3 Be a market expert

Understanding the market in which your customers operate gives you a real insight into how their businesses work: the seasonality of trade, competitive threats and opportunities and any external regulatory or other pressures they may be under. All of these things will affect how, what and when you sell products, solutions or services.

4 Build a key account plan

It may seem like overkill but using the knowledge you have built up about each customer account to document a sales plan is a crucial weapon in your armoury. A single repository that lays out the key facts about their market and business priorities along with associated selling strategies.
If you missed it, find out more in my blog post about developing existing customers.

5 Walk in their shoes

Once you have a better understanding of their business, a more open and sharing relationship with your customer will follow. And then you can start to walk in their shoes: anticipate their needs, add value and change their perception of you from supplier to trusted partner.

Use your new knowledge of your customers’ industries, market trends and business plans to pre-empt their needs, save them money, time and energy and help them become more successful. Not only will you change their perception of your company, inevitably it will also fuel your growth as a business in 2016.

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