“Customer Intimacy” The Key to Harvesting a Sales Relationship

Are you interested in “maximizing” your sales revenue?

If you have visited my website or followed me you will know that I believe that “customer intimacy” is one of the three critical elements in maximizing sales revenue (along with sales force optimization and marketing alignment).  Without it, the hard work of the sales and marketing departments is at risk and the potential for organic growth is greatly reduced.

Customer intimacy is all about the customer experience from the time they becomes a prospect forward. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon tells us that his whole focus has been on “the customer experience” and certainly this has paid off very well for his company.

Perhaps I can describe the value of customer intimacy by relating a brief story about how critical the relationship with the customer is if you want to maximize your sales revenue.

Let me explain….

I have this friend………..who wanted to build a website to house his BLOG and other information about his company and services. He talked with a number of web designers that represented a mix of services, value-add, pricing and portfolios.

The company he finally chose had the right mix of value-add, pricing and a fairly good portfolio. They also had follow-along services including web hosting and SEO optimization.

He found them fairly easily with a web search, so their marketing effort was working.

He had a few conversations with the salesperson and was made comfortable that they could meet his (fairly detailed) specifications at a reasonable price, so they moved forward together on a project estimated to take two to four weeks.

Following the Agreement and paying a deposit, he received an email from a project manager responsible for the conceptual design who began by saying “please fill out this form and tell me about your company and what you are trying to achieve”.  He responded…”have you looked at the spec I provided?” and the answer was….”what spec”.

So, at this point it was clear that once the sale had been made, the handoff from sales to customer service was not done very well and my friend became concerned about his decision. He emailed the specification and they began communicating via email.

After a few layouts and modifications they came to an agreement on the design and so he was passed on to the software engineer who would build the website. At this point they were four weeks into the process.

Next, my friend received an email from a new project manager who was responsible for engineering and delivering the final website. Attached were a list of questions about the website and the sample page that had been handed off from the conceptual design team. Unfortunately the sample was a design two iterations back from the final he had approved and the list of questions made it clear that the software engineer had not seen the spec either. A similar conversation ensued…”what spec?”…..”what final design” and so my friend sent the spec to the engineer along with the final conceptual design.

As they were building the site, the engineer on more than two occasions emailed and said that they never contracted for some of the elements of the specification and the cost was going to have to go up. After arguing that the spec was part of the Agreement the designer relented and agreed to do the work.

There is much more to the story, but I will “Spare” you the details, you have the essence.

The site took fourteen weeks to build, not four.

The final product was not what the specifications called for.

All communications with the engineers were by email only so there was no human interaction.

No one followed up upon completion of the project in any way to discuss satisfaction or the future of the relationship.

And so…. when it was time to select a hosting site and an SEO consultant, guess who did not get the business and guess who did not get to “maximize their sales revenue”.

The obvious lesson here is that “a good customer intimacy ethic” would have generated much more revenue and probably a good reference…..

Instead the experience became the subject of a BLOG about how not to take care of the customer.

If your company is not focused on the overall customer experience, you will not be able to harvest the investment you made in finding, creating and building the relationship in the first place.

What will your customers write about their experience with your company in their BLOG?

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