Return on Behavior Magazine
Home for marketing and customer service professionals


September 27th, 2009

When the Rules of the Game Change


Customers seem to be a little more fickle lately.


No wonder given the tumultuous world economy and the tried and true financial models that have not been able to predict anything correctly.

Add to this the conflicting data they are getting in their own businesses as to whether their company is on the rebound or they still have further pain ahead of them.  The most interesting thing about all of these is that many salespeople seem to be frustrated and surprised by this fickleness.  Top salespeople are seeing customers change their minds and change the rules midstream into a process – this just doesn’t seem fair to many of them.

But it is fair?

The customer is king and they get to make the rules.  The biggest rule that is happening in almost all businesses is that every dollar that is being spent could be up to the discretion of the top executives.  No longer does one department say “I have x thousand to spend on y initiative and this money is set in stone.”  Every dollar is competing with every other dollar and the winners will be the ones that show their C-level execs that their idea will drive performance for the company.

In today’s environment you had better be able to show how your products/services/ideas will help your clients execute on their strategy and help them reach their objectives.  This requires that you are dealing at the right levels in your customers’ organizations.  It is no longer safe to just stay connected to the procurement manager that really likes you and makes sure your contract keeps getting renewed.  These agreements are getting slashed as top execs look for better pricing, services and relationships.  Given all of this, it is time for all salespeople to be proactive.  Make sure your client is receiving the value you had committed to.   Make sure their top execs understand the value your company brings to their organizations.  Make sure their pricing reflects current schedules so that they do not feel they are being taken advantage of, leaving you no choice but to reactively lower their prices.  Make sure you know why they do business with you and what unique qualities and capabilities you bring to the table.  If the only answer is that they like you because of your prices then don’t be surprised when they ask for additional price considerations.  But, if they believe you are the experts in your field; the innovators; operationally excellent; creative; responsive; etc., then make sure you continue to deliver on these attributes.

The bottom line is that every initiative in a company is in competition with every other initiative.  No budgets are secured and your deal could go bye bye if you don’t connect it to the true business needs of your client.
©2009 Miller Heiman, Inc.  All rights reserved.

About the Author

Sam Reese

Sam Reese joined Miller Heiman as CEO in 2000, and has led the company to its position as the foremost thought leader and innovator in the strategy, process and skills that drive sales performance. During Sam's tenure, Miller Heiman has expanded product offerings and e-learning initiatives and amassed a global partner network of world-class sales consultants. In the process, he has built a culture that is passionate about achieving results for clients.


Sam has experience building sales organizations from the ground up at Fortune 500 companies such as Corporate Express and Kinko's. He has managed complex sales organizations with extremely large sales forces; developed new products and new distribution channels; leveraged technology to drive sales performance; integrated mergers and acquisitions; and dealt with highly complex sales effectiveness initiatives. Sam has worked in public companies as well as businesses backed by private equity and venture capital.

Sam has advised Fortune 500 company executives; delivered keynote addresses to multiple organizations and is frequently quoted in business journals throughout the world. He is co-author of Successful Global Account Management and The 7 Keys for Managing Strategic Accounts.

©2009 Miller Heiman, Inc.  All rights reserved.   


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One Comment

  1. Allison Brown

    A very interesting blog post. What would you say was the most common problem?

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