OK, it’s February 2009. You have a plan for the year and have managed to boil it down to a one-page A3 format. You and your team know your #1 priorities for the quarter and for the year and you have begun to get traction, even in the difficult economy all companies are dealing with today. You’ve even taken the time to get recharged. In a word, your company is Focused.
Now what do you need to worry about, besides all of the many details of your plan? You should be concerned that you might pass up opportunities that present themselves to you because you are so focused and single minded in executing your plan.
How can you avoid this trap?
Start with your weekly sales & marketing meetings, you do have them, right? Ask your team to discuss what they’re hearing from your MVCs, your Most Valuable Customers. These customers deserve more of your attention because they are unusually profitable, match up well with your company culture and generate a significant portion of your sales.
Try the following exercise with your sales and marketing team:
- Pick an MVC that you know well.
- Form a small team consisting of: the rep, an engineer knowledgeable about the account and you (the CEO, Sales Manager, General Manager, etc.)
- Call the customer and tell them you want to visit them but not a with typical sales call. Tell them you would like to meet the CEO or a top executive just to make sure you know what’s going on with them. Make it a two hour meeting if possible.
- Go visit the customer with your team and probe for what is happening in their business, the challenges or opportunities they see in their business and in, particular, ask them about any problems or issues they have that “surround” the products they purchase from you. You are not looking for problems they have with your products, since we can assume you know about these. You are looking for problems that affect their ability to use your products in the most efficient manner. What are the issues they wrestle with daily? What headaches keep them up at night? What gets in the way of your key decision-maker? How do they really manage the processes that involve your products?
- Your visit is now complete. Debrief with your team and determine how you can redefine your relationship with your MVC by understanding their most pressing issues and by viewing your customer through a new lens and seeing what is really important to them.
Now that you have detailed new intelligence on your MVCs most pressing needs, it’s time to determine how you can help them and add new value to the customer relationship. Gather your team again and discuss the trip, what you learned and what potential solutions you could devise to your customer’s biggest challenges. Think broadly about your company’s Hidden Assets that could be leveraged to solve these customer problems. By Hidden Assets I mean following: