(An extract from my booklet, Quick Guide VII – A Top-notch, Sales-Relationships, Account Management Template)
The matrix implies that you may have the opportunity to add value to your sales propositions. The nature of this value may be intellectual and/or emotional. Furthermore, if your customer values ‘you’ both intellectually and emotionally, you meet the basic criteria to form a partnership with your customer. If your customer neither values your intellect nor you/your-organisation as people – then your products and services are probably viewed as not much more than commodities.
Let’s look some more into each of the four quadrants in the Customer Value Orientation Matrix.
- Transactional: In this quadrant the individual client tends to place value for money upon the cost of the product and service quality they are buying and little or nothing more. In a commodity sale, given the minimum criteria of quality required, the client will make their decision typically on the lowest cost supplier. They attach neither emotional nor intellectual value on doing business with one vendor over another.
- Intellectual: Over and above product and service quality some clients will value a vendor’s intellectual property, i.e. their expertise, wisdom, data and/or whom they know.
Case Study: Intellectual Value – IT Directors’ Network
I once sold worldwide best-practice research to IT Directors as part of a private club subscription. Over and above the value of accessing millions of pounds (£UK) of research, at a small fraction of the cost, many members joined to meet their peers face-to-face. They met informally on a regular basis to discuss ‘hot topics’ of their own choice. Members would share insights into major IT management issues. If nothing more, members shared solace amongst themselves that they all struggled with the same management issues.
- Emotional: In the UK, themes such as ‘Buy British’ or ‘our Customer Support is based in the UK’ continue to carry favour with some clients.
I have sold millions of pounds (£UK) worth of contracts by asking the client if they would help me to make or overachieve my sales targets at year end. In each case, I had a very close and trusting relationship with the client. They were willing and happy to bring forward the business simply because I asked for it.
Case Study: Emotional Value – A Surprise and Wonderful Contract of Thanks
I led a sales and installation project of a huge network of Personal Computers (PCs) to facilitate a new customer service support system for a UK national corporate client. My organisation was awarded Phase 1 of a two phase project. I was told informally that Phase 2 would probably be awarded to a competitor whose product was some 40% cheaper.
The client valued my organisation’s technical know-how and I assembled a top support team to make sure that Phase 1 was commissioned on time and within budget. By the end of our contract, the customer was delighted.
I managed to persuade my management to keep the support team in place, even though our contract for Phase 1 had been fulfilled. I was determined to ensure the complete project was a success. Specifically, I did not attempt to negotiate anything in return for this ‘extra resource’ commitment.
Phase 2 got underway. About half way through and to my complete surprise, I was awarded a further £3M worth of unexpected business. The client-sponsor was “simply delighted” with my organisation’s commitment to the project overall regardless that a competitor was supposed to be supplying the hardware for Phase 2. This was the client-sponsor’s way of saying “thank you”.
- Partnership: When a client values doing business with you from both an intellectual and emotional basis, you have the potential to forge a partnership.
A business partnership is to all intensive purposes a marriage between your organisation and your client. You’ll sit together at a common ‘planning table’. Collectively you’ll form ‘one team’. You and your client’s organisation will ideally have a matching hierarchy of values.
The partnership will sustain when it is built on pillars of passion, resonance, security and creativity. The pillars are cemented in trust and as long as their bedrock is sound, pillars can crumble and be rebuilt.
I once engaged with a global apparel manufacturer to ‘measure’ the value its major retailer clients placed on the various products and services it offered. It sold prime marque products at premium prices. It was very successful but had a mismatch of values with one giant retailer in particular.
The retailer placed little or no value on the various add-on services the manufacturer provided, such as: local marketing campaigns, TV advertising, electronic tagging, in-store merchandising and so on. The retailer’s mentality was ‘stack-em-high, sell-em-cheap’; a complete contrast to prime-product retailing. The retailer was more interested in selling the manufacturer’s ‘bin-ends’ and ‘seconds’. And so a deal was eventually cut but the prospect of a partnership never came to fruition. The retailer’s view of all suppliers was totally Transactional .
For more information on forging and sustaining business relationship I refer you to two booklets from my series of Quick Guides to Business…
Good Selling & Shine on…!
Paul C Burr