thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

The Customer’s Customer

By on March 2, 2011

Truly customer-centered organizations think about all of their customers—even if they are not the ones that buy directly from them.

TreeDiagram_lrgMost organizations have customers they sell to directly (let’s call them primary customers) and they, in turn, assemble, distribute, enhance or otherwise add value to what they have purchased in order to sell to other customers (let’s call them secondary customers to the original supplier). Today many companies proclaim that they are selling solutions (rather than products, which can be easily commoditized). However, they will do a much better job when they approach this sale to the primary customer from the viewpoint of understanding the unmet needs of the secondary customer.

Customer-centered businesses (B2B and B2C) are consistently working to understand the primary customer’s end application and approaching the current challenges of the secondary customer as if they were their own. Solution selling must go beyond probing into what the customer is asking for. It must anticipate secondary customers’ needs and find ways to solve their problems more intuitively. It must be proactive and look for opportunities that the primary customer may not see. The best way to add value is to help those customers to have a better outcome that they can sell.

And they help even more when they can anticipate future needs. In what ways will the customer’s technology progress in the next 2-3 years? Customer-centric suppliers want to help their primary customers succeed by creating new ideas for their customers which will give them every advantage over the competition. Innovation for secondary customers turns customer-centered suppliers into heroes in the eyes of their primary customers.

Suppliers are much more valuable to their direct customers if they help those customers meet the unmet needs in their markets. Solution-selling must be customer-centered. In order to be successful, it must make the primary customer’s product better in the eyes of the secondary customer. It has to be focused on the customer’s customer.

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