In a comment on one of my posts, Andy Rudin reminded me of something we overlook: Customer Success And Quota Attainment Are Not In Conflict.
Too often, our behaviors don’t reinforce this, we are so driven for our own personal success and quota attainment, we forget the customer. Or our managers are so focused on the numbers, they drive behaviors focused on our numbers and less on customer success. We know the consequences of these behaviors—customers recognize it and “reward” us for that behavior, often by choosing to do business with someone who cares about their success instead of making the number.
Customer success needs to be the driver–both to our individual and organizational performance. If our customers are not successful with our solutions—we fail! Obvious, but forgotten. If our customers are failing–even in small ways, they become reluctant to buy more from us. They will never provide referrals or serve as references for us. They may even speak badly of us in social media venues.
It’s so obvious, we all know it, but our behaviors, too often are inconsistent with that which is critical to our success.
We tell the customer, “I’m under great pressure to get this order this month, can you help me out?” Meanwhile, they are thinking, “I have my own problems, why aren’t they helping me with those?”
We tell the customer, “If you order this month, I can get you a deal.” Meanwhile the customer isn’t ready, they haven’t aligned everyone in their organization to move forward, they aren’t ready to move forward–and we aren’t helping.
It’s simple and obvious. We know our success is dependent on the customer’s success. We mouth those words, we may even believe those words. But too often, our actions don’t reinforce this.
But we are still accountable for making our numbers, how do we focus on the customer success, yet still achieve our goals? It’s not simple–but it’s not that difficult, either. It all starts with fundamentals—a strong sales process, aligned with customer buying processes. Great opportunity strategies driven by the sales process. Strong pipelines, with a sufficient number of opportunities spread through the pipeline—balanced, with good deal flow.
All these combined, enable us to focus on customer success, but also enable us to make sure we can achieve our own goals. Where this starts falling apart is we don’t have the basic elements outlined above in place. No sales process or competitive deal strategies and we are clueless when we are likely or even if we are likely to get a piece of business. It happens when it happens—-maybe (keep your fingers crossed). Or we have bad pipelines—either clogged with bad deals that will never move forward, or with an insufficient number of opportunities
Any of these impact our ability to make our goals–we become desperate, starting to push, asking for favors, taking short cuts.
We need to focus on fundamentals:
- Finding customers with problems we can solve, and who want to do something about those problems.
- Help them organize to solve those problems, and facilitate that process (including the entire buying process).
- Leveraging our sales process to help keep the customer moving forward in their problem solving/buying processes.
- Make sure we are pursuing enough of these opportunities and that we have a balanced flow of these through our pipeline.
- Make sure we are investing time in finding and qualifying new opportunities, to maintain that pipeline balance and flow.
Focusing on customer success is not at all in conflict with achieving our goals, but we have to work the entire process, not just focusing, wishing, on one or two opportunities, hoping they will save us. They never will.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.