During the past ten years, I had the opportunity to learn a lot from my job, in particular when I moved from my previous CTO position to the role of CEO. When you deal with code, systems and technical issues everyday, you are likely to miss some important pieces of the relationship between you and your customers, focusing on stuff which, most of the time, is useless when it comes to understand what your customer needs from you.
One of my responsibilities is also dealing with our large accounts (companies) in order to explain how my company can help them to improve their business and, at the end of the day, how my company can make them happy.
That being said, the question which arises is: when is a customer happy? That’s a very important question and giving the right answer makes the difference between a faithful and loyal customer and unsatisfied customers which will replace your services as soon as they can.
Understand their needs
An important part of the relationship between you and your clients is understanding their needs. If you try to sell them something which is fine and that they like but that is not the best solution to solve their problems, you are not starting in the right way.
In the short term, you are also probably going to make more money, but in the long period, that customer will be unsatisfied and will complain with you stating you failed in making them happy. Moreover they’ll realize they spent more than what they could have spent and you must definitely prevent this from happening.
Be a partner
The relationship with your customers must be built and strenghten as if you were a business partner. If they make money, you make money. If they don’t make money, you will make less money or, sometimes, no money at all. It is you complete responsibility to analyze how they are using your product/service and jump in to help them in making the right moves and use it as best as they can.
Don’t fool them
Despite the paragraph above, if they make a lot of money doesn’t mean you must keep your margins constant. If they are good enough to use your product very well, they will be very happy because they leveraged your product/service at best and even more happy because you helped them to get to that point.
Try to up-sell at the right time
There are cases where you could be in the position of selling more services/products to your customers and, if you are good enough, they will buy them. Before doing that, try to answer these questions for any product/service you are selling:
- do they really need it?
- what real benefits do they get?
- will they likely make more money?
As soon as you get those questions answered, try to draft a brief doc explaining to your customers why they need your new products/services in addition to that previously sold. If you convince them, schedule a periodic check (after X weeks / months) to let them see how your product really helped them to improve their business.
If you are not able to get the questions above answered, keep waiting. You could be able to sell your new/additional product services, but in the long term if your customers realize you weren’t be able to add real value to them, it will be like a boomerang and further activities with that customer will be way more difficult.
Build you business model around your customer’s business model
If you are a savvy company, you should have a well defined business model to market your product/service. This doesn’t mean it cannot be flexible, if needed. In my experience you will see more happy customers as soon as you build your business model around theirs.
The challenge is to act like your customer and the first step is trying to get the following questions answered:
- How can you customer make money through your product/service (if applicable)?
- What direct and indirect benefits come from your product/service?
- Can your customer perceive these benefits?
- Is your customer saving money?
- Is the cost the customer is going to pay for your product/service compatible with the money they are making from it (directly or indirectly)?
In a nutshell, the purchase of your product/service must make sense and you must be able to show your customer how to get the most out of it.
In conclusion, I just wanted to point out is that my experience tells me that acting, thinking and analyzing the market / business process in the feet of you customers is the only available turnkey solution to sell your product making your customers happy. You also will make them trust in you not just as a supplier but a valuable business partner and the results will confirm to you that it was the right choice.
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