from D. Keith Pigues, Founder and CEO, Luminas

At Luminas, we often ask the question, “Is your customer’s business at the center of your business?”  This is typically met with a quick, “yes.”  It’s an honest answer. After all, most leaders believe they are indeed prioritizing their customers’ needs.  So, why is it that we sometimes lose with our customers?

We lose when we don’t truly understand our customer’s perspective.

What does losing look like? When our customers don’t make more money doing business with us, versus our competitors, we lose. If we do not know where we stand relative to our competitors in generating profits for our customers, we lose. If our organization lacks the ability to stay on top of our customers’ ever-changing needs and adjust our investments and actions customer-by-customer to beat competitors, we lose.

To create a winning customer strategy, here are the top 12 questions that you need to ask…and answer:

  1. What is your value proposition? Do you know why customers buy from you?
  2. What is your competitive advantage? Can you reasonably expect to grow your business based on something you’re doing better than your competitors?
  3. Are you improving your value to customers year over year? How much progress have you made in the last few years? How much progress will you make in the next few?
  4. Are your capital and operational plans aligned with what creates value for your customers?
  5. Are you getting your fair share? When you create value for your customers, do you get anything in return or are you giving everything away?
  6. Do you really know how your customers think you can improve?
  7. Do you spend too much time talking about the product, and not all the other things you do to create value such as brand development, logistics, sales force, customer services, and so on?
  8. Do you know why your customers view you differently? Why do you have a great relationship with some customers and not others while you’re offering all of them the same solution?
  9. Does your sales organization really use customer plans? What do you need to do in order to make sales planning more consistent, so that your sales teams see it as being easier and helping them in their jobs?
  10. Are your sales and marketing teams really connected? What can you do to drive them closer?
  11. Are you listening to your sales organization? Do you just hear the squeaky wheels of large customers and miss a large perspective of those that are somewhat smaller and less vocal?
  12. When budgets are tight and you need to make sure you are making investments that matter to customers, do you really know what those investments should be?

Choosing to put your customer’s business at the center of yours will require you to get real. Winning requires intentionality and rigor. But it’s worth it.

For more insights on how to win with your customers and help identifying what is really going on in your organization, start by checking out Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B. Then, contact the Luminas team for help getting the answers to these and other critical questions.