Chapter 4 The Customer – The World He Lives In

Just as I encouraged you to look at You as if you were a goldfish in a bowl, I suggest you think about the customer in his environment. If you are selling to a consumer, you need to do a profile, and it probably relates to a “stage in life” and financial position. The financial products you propose to a young married guy who has a child and is concerned about the cost of college education, is very different from an “empty nester” who is beginning to worry about long term health and disability challenges. I am mainly going to use corporate examples but the principles are fundamentally the same in all selling.

The world a customer lives in shapes the class of Value Proposition or benefits as much as his emotions and his objective needs. What do I mean with this assertion?

We all watch the news and hear about investment and business cycles. As salespeople we see the human decisions that aggregate to these concepts. If there is a recession it is (nearly always) because all our customers spending less money with us. If it is not a cause it is always an effect. If there is a boom then very often we will all be making quota. This is too simplistic, I know, as there are always companies going through counter-cyclical circumstances but there is an impact that I have observed through different cycles. In boom times customers are more motivated by opportunities to improve capacity or drive new initiatives that can be presented as Revenue Enhancement Value Propositions; in recessions the only motivation (Value Proposition) is to Cut Costs.

The world the customer lives in is the company he works for. You need to understand the specific economic conditions of the company. Is the company profitable, growing and investing or is it loosing money, and cutting budgets. The product or service Value Proposition has to be aligned with the corporate circumstances to stand any chance of being accepted.

Do not however give up if the customer is loosing money and cutting budgets. In recessions there are winners as well as losers. The concept here is to plug the leak. Most companies allow inefficiencies to grow during boom times. A good example is mobile phone companies. When the whole market is growing the telco needs to grow network infrastructure as fast as possible. When market growth slowed (or prices declined) telcos had to look at the end to end efficiencies of their processes. So in terms of selling to telcos, it became more difficult to sell mobile towers or Routers, but it became easier to sell Revenue Assurance services, to audit, identify, and quantify money leakages between the technical layers (ie unbilled calls) or enhanced billing, or product or CRM systems with the value propositions based around retaining customers and selling them more products, ie countering the price erosion in selling the base product, voice calls.

The issue is you have to consider the circumstances of the customer, the World he Lives In and shape your Value Proposition accordingly.

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About Michael

After studying Marketing at both Wollongong University and the University of Technology, Sydney, Michael Worked in B2B Marketing for the Cronulla Sharks Football Club for 3 years. Currently at CRMNow, he looks at Customer Relationship Management as a vital aspect of successful business and with a passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing he believes that all businesses have the potential to grow and remain profitable no matter the size.

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