May 30, 2014

Know your customer

Jari Makkonen

Director, Global owner of Customer Relationship Planning and Sales Process,

In the recent “The Future of Business Transformation” study conducted by Kairos Future and Tieto, 43% of Nordic executives cited ”more demanding customers” as one of the prime macro-trends from fifteen different selections. I’m not surprised about these results.

The way companies manage their customer experience is evolving into a diverse system. This system is comprised of elements that are present throughout every customer's journey of using and experiencing delivered services. Companies need to treat customers as individuals by creating a customer experience management (CEM) strategy that includes all customer interaction across the organization.

Technology can help us to acquire needed data so that we can have a sufficient amount of information for decision making. By analyzing this data, we can identify a certain baseline where we are currently operating. Along with conducting an analysis on these customer-specific issues, we also need to predict the future. You have to know where you and your customers want to be in three years, and then you can really offer the right things in time with the customer’s own operating planning. And in positive manner to challenge the customer to think even beyond identified initiatives.

The most professional sales persons can package information from a multiple number of channels for customer’s best. I like to think of the salesperson leading the sales process as a ”bow tie.” On one side is the client, and on the other side is the providing company. The salesperson acts as a source of information for both sides and delivers value for both parties.

This person has the self-confidence to know what can be done and what cannot be done. He has to be able to say ”no” to the customer because of validated reasons, even if it means a turned down sale. A good salesperson says no to something when he knows that there is another solution that will actually benefit the customer, especially if it's one the customer didn't know about before.

This is my advice to all salespeople: know how your customer's stakeholders are measured. Help them get their yearly bonuses and they will be thankful. Help your customer get better results for their business with your help than what they would have gotten without your help.

Jari is the Director and Global owner of Customer Relationship Planning and Sales Process at Tieto Plc. You can read more about him here and follow him on LinkedIn.

I recommend you to check out the Future of Business Transformation study or a presentation of it on SlideShare.

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