Our Sales Executive took some time during our interview to reflect on the challenges his company faces today, now that their Annual Customer Review program has been in place for over two years. The on-going challenges for their program revolve around the sales forces inability to effectively gather key customer information required to submit a customer review request. One of the key components of the customer review document outlines the customer’s top priorities and mission. This information can’t be made up or pulled from a website. The sales force is required to accomplish customer discovery prior to submission of a customer review request, unfortunately this key step is often ignored. By not putting the right amount of effort into customer discovery, the result can be a less than favorable review with their customer. The customer will know the information being presented is inaccurate; resulting in the sales person immediately losing credibility. These types of missteps are often identified by sales leaders who are responsible for approving each customer review document, but that doesn’t mean that every mistake can be caught during the approval process.
As the Sales Executive thought about other areas of the program that require improvement, he said that the sales people often lack the skill of carrying out meaningful business discussions. The delivery of the content is easy, but making the pages in the review document come alive through thought provoking questions and best practice examples takes a fair a
mount of preparation prior to the delivery of a customer review. I can’t stress enough, the importance of reviewing the customer document ahead of time and working with subject matter experts on the best methods of delivering the customer information. Sales leadership should be providing coaching to their account teams, and the sales training department offering courses on how to have business discussions with customers. Leverage the resources available to you; you only have one shot at making the review impactful for your customer…make it count!
Every customer will face their own host of challenges throughout the life of any customer program, so it is critical to anticipate challenges and have plans in place to address them. One of the biggest mistakes is not anticipating the impact to the sales force, as they can make or break your Annual Customer Review program. I will continue my interview, with our sales executive to review the performance requirements his sales force has for the delivery of reviews to their customers.