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.