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How Does Your Customer Make Money?

by David Brock on May 31st, 2017

Recently, I was in a discussion with a group of sales people.  I posed the question, “How does your customer make money?”

Most of them responded with what their customers did, for example:  “They’re a SaaS company, they manufacture products for this market, they are a services provider……”

They knew some basics about the customers, their products, and so forth, but they struggled to get to any detail about how their customers made money.

I asked them, “What is your customer’s business model,” which is a more obscure way of asking how they make money.  Most of the people in the group struggled with this.

Understanding how our customers make money (even if our customers are government or not for profit) is critical for us in selling to them.  Their business strategies, priorities, investments, organizational structures, product plans, operations, sales/marketing/customer service, talent management, and financial decisions are all driven by the answer to the question, “How does your customer make money?”

If we can answer that question, at some level of detail, then we have the ability to connect and engage the customer in more impactful ways.  We know what drives much of their decision making.

Without knowing the answer to the question, we don’t know how to position our products and solutions.  Because we always have to answer the question— “How does what we do help our customers make money?”  We can’t just answer that question in a casual way.  We can’t leave it to the customer to figure out–after all, why should they take the time?  We always have to answer the question of what we can do for our customers in the context of how they make money.

Some think, “We only have an impact in one function or department,” or “In the scheme of things our impact on the corporation is very small…”  But connecting the dots between our impact and the ability to impact the way our customers make money is critical.  As our sponsors within the customer look to justify their decision, they will be challenged with that question.  We have to equip them with the information to answer it.

Do you know how your customers make money?

Do you know how you help your customers make money?


  1. “but they struggled to get to any detail about how their customers made money.”

    The crux of Value Based Selling, means my offer will show how they will generate more income, or by how much they could reduce costs.

    If you don’t know how they, specifically, and in a detailed way, ‘Make’ money, then you will NEVER make a value offer.

  2. Martin Frey permalink

    Being in Texas most of my statements are a bit more colloquial. In 1981 I was told by an A Play. I Cajun Redneck with a high IQ. “Don’t talk about your stuff until you know how your customer gets paid. Then figure out how your stuff increases their pay. They will be a customer forever.” Wayne LeBlanc is still correct.

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