The ‘Growth Effect’ through Customer Focus

Growth: exceptional, sustainable, profitable growth. That’s what some companies deliver, year after year. The good ones, that is. Their secret? They simply focus on their customer. Customer focus helps companies put customers back where they belong – at the heart of the business. This is no easy task, but those who succeed leave their competitors far behind.

Most often, the sales force enables a company to understand how to create customer traction, retention and thus engagement. It is the sales rep that transforms the company’s time and resources into high performance. Most importantly, the sales rep helps the company gain a new approach to sustainable and profitable growth based on customer traction.

The role of sales and marketing team leaders is largely to help the sales rep

• Achieve sustainable and profitable growth through customer focus

• Deepen understanding of the drivers of customer decisions to build customer equity

• Create momentum through customer satisfaction, retention and engagement

The mantra for the sales rep is “focus on the customer – and feel the growth effect”.

The “growth effect” is a tremendously potent phenomenon by which, under specific conditions, exceptional organic growth is created – growth that feeds on itself. Success begets success and this leads to a “success momentum”. This momentum accumulates energy from its own success and provides ever-increasing acceleration for those companies smart enough to create and harness it. These companies go from success to success, sweeping all before them with disconcerting ease. This sort of momentum is rare in these days of cost containment where marketers work hard to achieve more with less, more often than not, failing miserably along the way.

The challenge in pharmaceutical marketing is to ensure that customers receive the right message at the right frequency and through the right channel. At the moment, it is not clear if sales reps are the most effective channels of communication between companies and customers. A recent survey of 1014 clinicians showed that clinicians spend only 8% of their typical working day with sales reps. On an average there are at least 15-20 reps who meet clinicians on any given day! Consider the time, money and effort spent by companies on training this very important and very expensive resource.

It is obvious that companies will ensure that they utilize costly and scarce resources to optimally create the growth effect. So what can possibly not be working? A few theories. Customers are often inundated with the enthusiasm of sales reps, which is usually seen as a positive thing, but this can backfire when it comes to utilizing the wrong channel. In my experience, reps can’t help themselves. When they get in front of a customer, they want to tell the customer the whole story. Yet, one of the things we know about selling, and we’ve known for many years, is that the best selling isn’t at all about products and what we offer. It’s also very much about the customer and their needs. Reps who don’t realize this, very often swamp the customer. It is, therefore, not a surprise that clinicians don’t value the rep and his information.

In fact, research has already shown that, in a sales call, the more time the customer talks, the higher the probability that the call will succeed. When you study highly effective salespeople, one thing you find is they talk about solutions, about what they could offer very late in the sales process. Less effective people can’t wait to start talking about what they can do instead of listening patiently to identify customer needs and wants. Companies must devise ways to link resource allocation to real-time learning. This can possibly be done by creating incentives to invest in listening and learning from customers. This will result in evolution of strategy and/or products and services that are robust enough to accommodate the needs and wants of customers who are integral to creating the growth effect.

One thought on “The ‘Growth Effect’ through Customer Focus

  1. Salil, couple of comments: 1. In my opinion the concentration of resources around sales reps (and their interactions) is disproportionately high. 2. Choosing to interact with customers predominantly through sales can only lead to organic growth. Exponential growth requires engaging customers through alternative channels that focus on identifying needs and building solutions, something that is difficult through 'sales', which tends to perform the role of information providers.

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