Tag Archives for " Customer focus "

Are you really a “customer first” kind of person?

I have been doing a lot of networking lately. You can probably picture some of the exchanges I am experiencing. A friendly introduction, some mild chit chat/attempts at humor, then working toward an explanation of what each of us does.

And I am amazed at how often I hear nothing about the customers involved.

In other words, I always hear things like, “I work for a B2B technology company selling X.”


Doesn’t that strike you as odd?

It’s crazy to me. Especially when I consider how the customer is rarely mentioned. And considering how much we hear about customer first, customer focus, etc., I wonder if people are genuinely committed to their customers.

Consider this easy alternative: “I help other businesses figure out how to scale their growth with technology.” (Or whatever describes your customers.)

Can you see the advantages of this approach?

First, it obviously puts the customer(s) being served in the center of your mindset. You really do think “customer first” when you inject them into the front part of your dialogue. And you probably already know the benefits of this kind of thinking. But have you and your team embedded it into everything that is done and said? More importantly, would your customers agree?

Second, it opens the door to new business. Talking about how you help your customers allows the other person to potentially say that they have the same challenge/desired outcome. At the very least, they may know someone else who you should be talking with. And that door to new business appears on its own.

Third, it allows you to collect information from people who might not be a customer but certainly represent your target audience. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked with people on airplanes and gotten incredible insights about their company’s leadership, strategies, and so forth. It’s like a mini-focus group where the transparency is paramount. You really do get to hear all about the junk that your target market is dealing with – even if they don’t want to admit it.

But if you are going to get really serious about injecting customer focus, you know you have to get beyond introductory conversations and give a very intentional look into how your organization anchors its efforts to customer outcomes.

  • Has your company defined the specific customer outcomes that everyone can impact? Do you talk about those impacts – or just how much money each customer is worth? Everyone’s goals should be anchored to customer outcomes in some way.
  • How do your team mates describe what they do? Are they truly customer first? Everyone’s role should be anchored to how they support the customer experience.
  • Has your company defined the processes that affect customer interactions? Do they show respect for the outcomes you promised to deliver to your customers – or do they get in the way of delivering those outcomes? Every process should at least be analyzed for customer impact. Yes, that includes HR, Finance, and other “non-customer facing” groups because they have the greatest potential of competing with the customer.

You may not have the authority to change each of these areas, but you do have influence. Start with where you can personally make an impact and create customer focus that’s just “different” from everyone else. Then change your team. Then your group. Then who knows? You may even change your company.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS – If you or someone you know needs to get better performance from the sales team, let’s set up a conversation to talk about it. Get on my calendar here.


How good is your sales onboarding – do you have the wrong focus?

Onboarding is a vampire project.

In other words, you can stab it, shoot it, and burn it with fire. But it will keep coming back to life.

Why is this? Can onboarding actually be so hard to do effectively?

Yes and no.

Yes. Do onboarding wrong, and it will crash mightily. Until someone else gets assigned to “fix onboarding.” And repeats the cycle.

At the same time, no, it’s not that hard. You are only trying to get people to the most basic level of proficiency so that they can enter their role with the foundation to thrive.

So, why is onboarding consistently on most sales enablement to-do lists?

Because the solution that is called onboarding doesn’t address the actual problem you have to solve.

What is the problem? Well, in our practice, we see five interconnected issues that define the problem. This blog is going to be about the first one – which is the most common mistake we see.

Onboarding Mistake #1: The focus is on the product – instead of the customer

How many of your sales people struggle with shoving their product knowledge ahead of their customer’s perspective in sales conversations? If you are like many companies, it’s a lot.

The impact of this is slow ramp-up times, stagnant pipelines, messy forecasts, and ultimately high employee turnover.

Think of your current onboarding right now.

Ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being perfect), how well do our graduating sellers understand our customers’ top challenges as well as, if not better than, they do?”

Now, ask yourself, ““On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being perfect), how well do our graduating sellers understand our products/solutions?”

If your answer to the first question is higher than your answer to your second question, well done! You are designing your onboarding – and preparing new sales people – the right way.

If your answer to the first question is lower than your answer to your second question, you have a problem. A problem with creating a product-focused sales force, instead of a customer-focused sales force. A problem that will slowly erode the quality of every sales conversation that new hire will have. A problem that your top sales managers and top sales reps will have to undo. And a problem that your worst sales managers and sales reps will reinforce.

If you liked our approach to onboarding, you have two things that you can do.

  • First, join the discussion and share your perspective. Comment below (and share/like this blog). We love engaging in a great conversation.
  • Second, be on the lookout for registration details for our webinar on How to Build World-Class Sales Onboarding with a panel of true experts on Thursday, September 6th, 2018. Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more…

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai