Serving customers profitably, and the way they want to be served is an important part of being customer focused.
Finding the best ways to serve is situational. It depends on:
- Who the customer or prospect is - what our relationship with them is
- What we are selling at the moment - what our current opportunity is
- Where the customer or prospect is in the buying cycle
Too often we establish channel strategies in a vacuum or in organizational silos. In the perfect world, the full context for establishing channel strategies requires understanding of:
- The current and potential value of the whole customer relationship
- The potential value of this sale
- The needs and buying cycle preferences of individual customers, prospects or segments
- The alternative ways we might meet these needs and preferences
- How the competition meets these needs
- How successful the competition is in meeting these needs
- The real and opportunity costs to meet the needs for each alternative
- The likely return for each alternative and for the overall customer relationship
In our imperfect world we often develop less than this full context. Driven by the need to act, individual business units and functions make partially informed decisions, some of which damage our relationships with customers.