King of the single product or customer success thinker?

Wessel Berkman

I regularly meet account managers who see themselves as a trusted advisor. Some go a step further and call their company “strategic partner”. These intentions are good, don’t get me wrong. But if I ask what makes them a trusted advisor, or how customers can tell that they are, you notice that it’s difficult for them to say what that means. It’s hard for many to pinpoint what makes them different from competitors and whether they really are a “partner” or “advisor”.  

In times in which customers increasingly ask for total solutions, many organizations are scared to let go current products and services. No one is brave enough to make the customer truly successful by offering total solutions.

Thinking in terms of customer success and offering the best total solution may sound elusive, but customers purchase things because there is a need and they want to find the answer. These total solutions solve a latent need. Who can do that the best, wins customers.

There, of course, are courses that help increase skills needed to challenge customers. But management is often times not sufficiently equipped to do this. To what extent does your organization facilitate this better than your competitors?

Conditions for being or becoming?

When you want to become king in customer success solutions, there are a number of basic conditions. The most important are:

  1. Knowledge of Customer Dream.When you know the dream of your customer, you can facilitate it. Truly indulging in someone else’s business is not simple. Especially when you know that the knowledge of the total solution is often unknown to the customer too. It takes insight to know what to ask and what to offer.
  2. Customer Success Portfolio.In order to fulfill the wishes of the customers, you need more than just the things that you sell. You need to figure out what needs to be added, so that you can offer a total solution. Which partners can help you to surprise the customer in a positive sense?
  3. Skills and creativity.As soon as you know about these first two conditions, the next step is to acquire the skills to challenge the customer in their business. Many salespeople have done courses in Solution Selling, Consultative Selling, Spin Selling, Challenger Sales etc., but are they really implementing them? Are they looking at the Customer Success Portfolio? The mindset needed to become king may be more important than all of those courses.
  4. Stakeholders have dreams. Big dreams often have many stakeholders. In order to map the customer success, you need to know the wishes of all stakeholders and take these in your total solution. Networking needs to become an art form. 
  5. Strategic data and management.Which strategic data do you use when you want to become a trusted partner or strategic advisor? You probably know your turn-over and margin, but do you know the exact added value you create for your customers? The question for managers is: how can you make your salesforce think in terms of the customers’ dreams?

Customers look for solutions when there is an active need. They will often times look for one particular product. But separate items won’t lead to total customer solutions and no optimal customer success. Many organizations like to offer separate products. But how satisfied will that eventually make the customer?

Examples

Crane: The customer thinks he needs a crane for a job in his factory and calls the crane company. This ultimate wish, after a few questions, is to be done three days early. Are there other products that contribute to this wish?

Printer: The customer is looking for a color printer with the purpose of printing propositions and other documents. His ultimate wish? To surprise his relations with the right information in the right moment. Will just a color printer do the trick?

Sales courses: The customer is looking for a sales course. His ultimate wish? To double turn-over and increase margins. Will just a sales course make this happen?

Measuring customer success mindset

Measure your organization’s level. Answer these questions and mark them between 0 and 10. Add the scores and calculate the average.

  1. We have 100% insights into the dream successes of our customers and customer segments.
    2. All of our clients’ stakeholders have been identified and are included in the overall success solution.
    3. This dream has been captured and shared among our employees.
    4. We recorded for each customer segment what the overall ‘Customer Portfolio Success’, cooperating partners included.
    5. Our salesforce is trained and really able to challenge the customer on his/her desired success and is therefore seen as the preferred trusted partner.
    6. We have a structured way of working. Our ‘customer success registration documents’, columns and cases help challenge the clients.
    7. Our CRM is specifically designed around customer dream thinking.
    8. We have tangible insight into the operational results of our added value to our customers.
    9. We know how much revenue we create for our structural partners that we engage in the total customer solution dream.

Do you want to learn more about what a modern sales machine and commercial blueprint should look like? Take the test, book an inspiration session and challenge your team to find ways to make a difference with your organization.

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