If your organization already has a good understanding of the unique needs and requirements of each of the individual customer segments in serves (and shares some of this information with you), this will be of great value to you in terms of your ability to support your customers with a “total service and support solution”. However, the ability to promote and sell the appropriate portfolio of products and services to your customers is also of equal importance, but may require additional expertise and selling tools in order for you to ultimately be successful.
Accordingly, we have developed the following set of “five rules” for being successful when promoting, selling – and delivering – “total service and support” to your customer segments. The five (5) rules for ensuring that you are adequately prepared to address the key product and services selling points for each of the customer segments you serve are:
1. “Develop a personal marketing, promotional, and sales approach designed to reflect a focused commitment to the individual accounts you support, rather than one which is perceived to be too general in scope”
While your organization may have all of the products, services, and resources necessary to support multiple customer segments, most of your customers will only be interested in what you have offer to their specific vertical segment. Typically, banks won’t be very interested in what products, services, and support you are providing to hospitals, and vice versa.
The most effective marketing and promotional messages that you can provide your customers will be those that are perceived to be directly relevant to the unique needs and requirements of the systems and equipment users in their own vertical segment – and this generally requires the availability of segment-specific marketing and promotional collateral from your company, combined with a good knowledge of each customer segment yourself, to get the proper messages across.
In some cases, you may already be part of a dedicated vertical industry segment sales and service force; but, in most cases, you are probably positioned primarily as a systems and equipment generalist. For the most part, your greatest marketing, promotional, and sales successes will occur in those circumstances where you can show your customer accounts that you really understand their specific-specific needs and requirements, because you really understand the type of business they are in – as well as how they use their systems and equipment to support their overall business operations.
The best way to convince an account in a particular segment that you truly understand their unique needs and requirements is to have a personal arsenal of segment-specific marketing, promotional, and sales tools (and whatever company marketing collateral is available) to show them.
2. “If you can provide information on a full array of products, services and support to your customers, you will become much more important them”
Research has confirmed the importance that your company provides customers with a “total” product, service and support solution. Further, most customers do not care whether your company ultimately provides them with this total solution directly, or through the use of authorized dealers/distributors, qualified subcontractors, or strategic alliance partners – they simply care that they are able to get a total solution from a single vendor, and that everything can be managed through a single point of contact – in some cases, you!
Once you are able to prove to your customers that you (as a representative of your company) can provide them with a total business imaging service and support solution, they will quickly learn that they can rely on you for all of their future product, service, and support needs; however, if they believe that you are unable (or unwilling) to do so, they are more likely to begin to look for another vendor that can.
3. “If you already have the capabilities to be a total service and support provider to your customers today, you must still ensure that you can grow along with their needs and requirements for service and support tomorrow”
Field technicians that are perceived to already have all of the skills, training, and capabilities to support the total services needs and requirements of their customer accounts today will be more likely to be depended upon by their customers to support their evolving, expanding, and/or changing needs in the future. However, the best way to ensure the likelihood of a long-term relationship with your customers is to show them that you personally understand their evolving needs, and that you are continually taking steps to grow along with them (i.e., attending additional training seminars or workshops, going for addition certifications, reading up on new business imaging applications in their specific industry segment, etc.).
It is also important to be able to position yourself to meet your customers’ changing needs as they grow through merger or acquisition, reorganization, business process re-engineering, or any other types of corporate maneuvering. Simply knowing each customer segment’s unique set of acronyms, “buzz” words, and key industry players will not assure you of their trust and dependence – but it will certainly help in your ability to articulate and communicate your commitment to users like them, in the industry segments they serve.
4. “If you are not perceived as being a total solution provider to your customers today, they may look elsewhere for a total provider in the future”
Increasingly, customers are looking for suppliers (and field technicians) that can provide a broad range of value-added services and support in addition to traditional products and services. The most successful suppliers will be those that are able to provide “enhanced” levels of customer service and support (e.g., professional services, training, consulting, applications engineering, etc.), as desired. And while you may not have either the training or charter to provide these things to your customers yourself, you will need to at least have a strong understanding – backed up by the appropriate leave-behind information – to let them know what is available from your company.
Not all of your customers require a full range of service and support today; but, over time, many of these additional support options are likely to become more attractive to them, and you will be depended on to pass this information to them at just the right time – whether they have specifically asked for it, or not. The fact that your company may already have some of these value-added services included in its portfolio – and that you are prepared to provide additional information, or speak about them, whenever they are ready – will give some of your customers an extra measure of “comfort” in knowing that you will probably be prepared to provide them with total service and support solutions in the future, as their needs grow.
5. “If you are already able to offer customers in highly demanding segments what they want today, it will be easier for you to meet their needs tomorrow”
Customers in highly demanding segments (i.e., medical/healthcare, financial services, government/security, etc.) are constantly looking for credible providers that can act as a single source of products, services and support, either as a direct provider, or as a prime vendor. Furthermore, customers in these highly demanding segments generally tend to be acutely aware of how difficult it is for some vendors to meet their mission-critical needs.
Most believe they would benefit from finding a single organization – fronted by one or two specific individuals (e.g., their sales/account representative and service technician, for example) – that could serve as the catalysts that can provide them with the full range of products, services, and support they will require over the long haul. The ability of your organization (and you) to offer everything the customers in these highly demanding segments need would represent the ultimate “value-in-use” product, service and support offering.
The most successful providers in any individual customer segment will ultimately be the ones that are best positioned as the primary source of “total” systems and equipment support solutions by either having the ability to deliver the required products and services directly, or to manage other providers as part of a total support offering to the segment. However, in order for this to be successful, your company’s “portfolio” must also be supplemented by the presence of strong sales, service, and field support personnel (again, including yourself) that reflect its true commitment to the total understanding of – and responsiveness to – the unique services needs and requirements of both the segment itself, and the individual customers that comprise it.