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Six ways to get closer to customers

A recent report from IBM surveyed CEOs around the world, representing 1,800 companies. IBM identified three areas these CEOs deemed mission critical: Embody creative leadership, build operating dexterity and getting closer to their customers.

Of those 1,800 CEO's, 88 percent said that getting closer to their customer was their most important strategy, and the one strategy they were going to ensure was implemented and highly functional. Those CEOs know when organizations properly execute customer engagement strategies, customers go from "being sold" to buying.

For those companies struggling with a customer-centric strategy, here's a more tactical example of the need to create customer engagement programs.

There are two entities that measure your organizations performance every day: your customers and your competitors. When it comes to the performance of your organization, it's either pass or fail. In most cases, there are no "do-over's;" your competitors are happy to pick up where you left off with your customers.

If you plan to be in business into the future, here are a few tips:

 What's the voice of your customer, when's the last time you implemented customer 360's? What's your strategy as it pertains to customer intelligence? If your thinking CRM you've failed this section....databases, drip marketing campaigns and funnel reports are not customer intelligence gathering tools. A customer-centricity encompasses the entire organization and its successful overall delivery to the customer.

 When it comes to strategies, slow growth is the best growth. Successful businesses create customer-centric organizations laser focused on providing solutions and value, not selling widgets. Implement the revenue optimization strategy that's customer-centric now.

 Get out of the widget selling business and into partnership mentality. A provider of winning solutions is not selling, it's a buying opportunity. Additionally, If you still doing sales training --STOP! Find a professional organization that can deliver and effectively implement a customer centric strategy for you.

 Strategically indentify those customers who fit your organizations value proposition hand in glove. Call it niche marketing, vertical integration, whatever it is, but own your category. Properly indentifying the right customer equates to tremendous bottom line revenue growth due to lack of customer churn and a focused market approach.

 Pair strategic hiring with training and development. Hire solutions/customer-centric people, train them well in customer engagement, create customers for life and realize sustainable profits and productivity.

 Measure, measure, measure. I speak with so many companies that want to accelerate into a high performing organizational model and yet aren't sure where they are right now.

One of the biggest challenges we consultants face in helping our clients understand strategic models is getting executives to stop, take a breath and identify pockets of profit already available to them.

Top line and bottom line venue growth are often found with the organizations resources already in place. The 88 percent of CEOs who said their top priority is to get closer to the customer are simply reorienting their organization to put this strategy in place. The organization is ready - it's just a matter of implementing and monitoring for success.

Customer retention is the key, but profitable retention is a direct correlation of strategic customer identification. Proper identification of customers means you've stopped selling widgets and become trusted, knowledgeable advisors providing solutions to help them grow their business.
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Steve Sorensen

Steve Sorensen has spent more than 30 years helping companies achieve a competitive advantage by improving their sales strategy. Steve's experience includes Vice-President of a Fortune 500 company, Manager of Corporate Accounts for a Fortune 500 company and Western States/Western Canada Regional Sales Manager. As president of Enlighten-360, LLC, Steve uses his wealth of experience to help companies achieve increased revenue and velocity of growth through improved sales strategies. He can be reached at 720.343.0033 or steve@Enlighten360.com.


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