As you begin to compile a list of the people your sales force has contact with today, does your list include titles like Marketing Manager, Director of Procurement or Product Manager? Ask yourself if these individuals truly are the decision makers or just executing the buying process. Is the information they require focus solely on metrics and the delivery of the products and services your company provides? Identifying who has the power to make buying decisions and who is the ultimate Decision Maker for each of your customers is key to landing on the right audience for the Customer Review.
Let's look at attributes for three distinct relationship perspectives within an organization. More than one of these perspectives can describe the individuals within your customers that act as a Decision Maker today.
Executive: defines corporate strategy; visionary innovation; executive leadership; makes major decisions affecting the company's strategy and direction; can create budgets
Operational: defines the requirements; evaluation and due diligence of any potential purchase; develops plans; concerned with business operations and process; makes decisions to implement plans and within their budgetary discretion
User: executes on requirements; directly uses the product or service; workflow and productivity; typically executes buying process
Where is the Decision Maker for each of your customers; at the Executive, Operational or User level? The audience for your Annual Customer Review lies with those who are the Decision Makers. Each of your customers has their own unique structure, so Decision Makers will be found at either the Executive or Operational level. Users are not typically the audience for an Annual Customer Review as their focus is on executing the requirements given to them by the Decision Makers.
Each customer program you implement requires a different relationship perspective. An Annual Customer Review should focus on those individuals at the Executive or Operational level within an organization. Who within each functional business unit can provide insight into top initiatives, priorities and challenges? Who has the ability to make buying decisions today or in the future? By elevating your discussions from the user level to those individuals that can make decisions you will find, in my experience, a host of opportunities:
- Acceleration of the sales cycle
- Better understanding of your customers' business
- Improvements in customer collaboration and relationships