January 14, 2008

News & Opinion: Ask 8cr! - What the Customer Wants You to Know

By: Aaron Schleicher @ 9:12 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Ask 8cr! is a section of our blog used as a forum to address the kinds of issues and challenges people are having in the workplace. We take these issues and apply a business book we feel offers a viable solution. Others then chime in via the comments section. The person with the selected challenge gets a free copy of the book, but everyone who reads these posts, wins. What's your challenge at work? Send it to me at jon(a)800ceoread(dot)com.
Today's challenge deals with re-examining your sales culture by looking at your most important asset - your customers:
"How do you change a sales culture to be more aggressive? To be more responsive? To keep pushing even though sales goals are being met? To make them realize that when things are going well is when we ought to keep prospecting. To teach them the long term benefits of being responsive." - Larry
The sales war rages on. Organizations scramble for leads, battle over price, bend over backwards to close deals. Still, it never seems to be enough. Larry's challenge is a clear example of this. How can sales people be more aggressive and keep pushing even when goals are met? It seems the answer is a shift in perspective.

Ram Charan has written a wonderful little book about this shift called What the Customer Wants You to Know: How Everybody Needs to Think Differently About Sales. In it, Charam describes his system of "value creation selling," a practical method of understanding your customer's problems and finding ways to solve them. Through this system, Charam details a method that takes attention off of price and places the focus on what the customer really needs. By describing how to develop a value creation sales force, the book is a guide that can be used by management to change the culture on a larger scale, as it reveals that sales is every employee's business - not just the sales department.
In creating the process, sustaining the process, and taking it to the next level, value creation selling becomes a way for organizations to be their customer's trusted partner. However, it does require the right perception and work from all involved. This important fact will change current employees as well as better define future hires. Charam states, "If people don't have the gregarious personality and psychology that lets them work in groups and build relationships, they won't succeed."
I'm sending Larry a copy of the book to address his questions by hopefully changing them. After reading, he'll ask questions like, "What problems do my customers have? What risks do they see having with their customers? How can we provide solutions for them?" These are questions every organization should be asking themselves, and this book is a practical guide to help us work out the answers.

About Aaron Schleicher

Aaron Schleicher has been the author services specialist at 800-CEO-READ since 2004. You can usually find him hidden under a baseball cap, feet kicked up on his desk, talking with authors, publishers, and businesses. Outside the office you can find him crafting candles, listening to records, and making music with friends and family.