Here are possible outcomes associated with each step of the Customer Cycle.
You want the customer executive to decide they need to improve an area of the business. And you want them to focus on areas of the business that lead to your products or services. This decision will kick off a buying cycle that could lead to a sale for you.
The outcome might be ‘Customer decides to improve results, identifies areas for improvement’.
You’d like the customer to focus on problems or roadblocks you can help them address. The outcome might be ‘customer focused on problems we address’.
You’d like them to adopt a high-level approach that leads them naturally to you. You’d like them to avoid approaches that might direct their expenditure elsewhere. For example, you don’t want them to spend money with an external consultant instead of buying your technology.
The outcome might be ‘customer decides on ‘right’ high-level approach’.
Evaluation Part One
Having decided on a high-level approach to buy technology, the customer is now considering what technology to buy. They’re developing a short-list. The outcome we want is ‘make the shortlist’.
Evaluation Part Two
Evaluation Part Two is a traditional sales process. We’ve made the short-list and are competing against other vendors. We’re also competing with a ‘do-nothing’ decision (often the toughest competitor we face). We need the customer to decide for us, and to commit to moving forward. The outcome will be ‘win the deal’.
In this phase, we’re helping the customer through our products and services. Of course, we must get our product working and adopted. But that’s not enough. Our primary focus should be enabling the improved business results the customer executive wants. That’s what he or she considers success to be. Let’s call that outcome a success outcome.
If the product works but the success outcome isn’t achieved, the customer executive will consider the project a failure. Even if it’s not our fault, that will cost us future revenue.
The outcome from this step should be ‘success outcome enabled’.
Let’s assume the customer achieves the success outcome. The executive is happy…for now. But in a year (or less), they’ll want more improvement. We again want to take part in every step of the Customer Cycle. To do this, we want a recurring cycle of engagement agreed to by the customer. The joint focus is an ongoing improvement in the success outcome. We’ll develop a natural cycle of engagement which doesn’t have to be ‘sold’ every time.
The outcome might be ‘recurring engagement process agreed’.