You and your team need to believe that now is the right time to win with customers.
From our perspective, the time for customer value creation is always now, no matter what your current situation. We have worked with organizations that have adopted this approach only after a crisis. And now, they publicly thank God for the crisis that moved them into action. But, we suggest that you not wait for the big customer relationship explosion or watch your share dwindle away and become forced into action.
Regrettably, however, it seems that most companies — and most people — tend not to take action until faced with a crisis. When markets are bad and budgets are tight, we fall into the trap of resisting anything new. When markets are good – sales and profits are rising – we get lulled into the false sense that we are really beating the pants off our competitors. While in reality, a rising tide raises all boats – even those that aren’t built well. Or maybe we get on the path of cutting cost as a way to prosperity and cannot seem to bring balance to our actions – the kind of balanced actions that result in both sales growth and cost reductions or productivity improvements. Last we checked, a growth strategy does not consist of cost-cutting only.
Any executive who has been around for a few years has gone through this major cost-cutting exercise one or several times during his or her career. And anyone who thinks this is really fun has a warped sense of what is fun about business. Remember, business success at its core is about making investments that create more value for customers than competitors and results in you making more money. In many ways, a cost-cutting strategy is the result of failing to stay in touch with what is valuable to customers and making the best investment decisions to address these customer needs in ways that help you, and the customer, make more money. This is the ultimate responsibility of senior management, and now is the time to begin or accelerate this process for your organization.
To create a sense of urgency, field a team that has an entrepreneurial spirit for building a successful business. Think about an entrepreneur for a moment. A large percentage of them get started by understanding a customer problem better than anyone else. They also possess the passion, commitment and resourcefulness to build a new or different solution working closely with customers. Entrepreneurs operate in this fashion because they understand so clearly that without their customers they will not make payroll, meet other financial obligations, or continue to exist as a viable entity. As a result of this environment, they believe and act as though the time is now! Your Customer Value Creation Team must operate with this same sense of urgency.
There are initiatives that companies should wait to pursue – even some important ones. Customer value creation is not one of them. NOW is the time.
an excerpt from Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B