Assess Corporate Culture When Choosing Your Next Customer
It is standard practice to qualify a prospect on the basis of time, need, authority and money, but why not by corporate culture as well? We all find it easier to work with some companies just as we prefer working with some employees more than others. In fact, as a result of outsourcing, with more and more work going to suppliers instead of employees, perhaps the supplier-customer relationship should (and will) start to mimic the employee-employer relationship.
If this is so, then as suppliers, we should start to assess our prospect’s corporate culture just as we did when deciding to accept a company’s job offer. While I’m not recommending pre-relationship psychological testing, we may need to run a relationship check just as we would a credit check. Since people still buy from people (as opposed to companies) some level of compatibility is essential. After all, customer-supplier relationships fail most often because expectations were not set, agreed upon and then met. Some relationships may be already doomed from the start!
So let’s take a few moments and decide whether we are picking good long-term partners or “one-time sales stands.”
- Does the decision-maker communicate like you do?
- Does he/she share some basic values with you?
- Does his/her company make decisions like yours does?
- How are disputes resolved, if they are resolved?
- Is it a conservative or progressive environment in terms of risk-taking, communications, problem solving, partnering?
While sales goals have to be hit, they are rarely accomplished through the first order. Therefore, developing an ideal customer profile before closing that first deal will help ensure that more will follow. Taking a few minutes when moving qualified prospects through the developed or proposal funnel stage before closing them will only enhance the chances of successful long-term partnerships. This profile can easily be added as part of your qualifying customer or pre-proposal questionnaire. Feel free to contact me if you would like some further thoughts on how to do this.