As we hurtle towards Q4, with all of the financial uncertainty that we are still destined to face on a daily basis, the organizations that are surviving - even thriving - are the ones that have demonstrated that they are willing to adapt and be prepared to change direction when market conditions dictate that they should.
Inevitably, that means smaller companies are doing better, because they are not be weighed down by unnecessary beaurocracy and the "decision by committee" mentality; they don't have to wait for corporate boardroom decisions to be taken, often miles away from the frontline; no hanging around waiting for budgets to be approved, leaving the competition to steal the lead etc.
Compare the braking distance of a juggernaut with that of a small family saloon - you get the picture.
I also believe that smaller companies are more capable of building stronger, sustainable relationships with their customers, and we can certainly say that 2012 is the year of "Customer Focus" - it's what me learned colleague Colleen Francis refers to as "Love the one you are with"
But what exactly does "Customer Focus" mean?
Customer Focus Creates Competitive Advantage:
• The one term that sets top performers apart - customer focus
• Outstanding sales results depend on: - The ability to think from the customer's point of view - Understanding the customer's agenda, buying cycle and best interests
• Beyond a superficial reading of immediate customer needs, salespeople must gain a deeper understanding of both the buyer's long-term goals and the overall business climate
• At the heart of customer focus is the art of listening constructively - the best salespeople are masters at capturing information
• Customer focus means taking the customer seriously - to-day the salesperson who clings to the product orientation of a decade ago is losing ground
• As client companies branch into new markets and unfamiliar territories, they are demanding unique, flexible solutions from their vendors - customised to support specific goals
• Another myth which can be exploded is that whilst customers value flexibility, being too flexible can undermine the sales relationship.
On the whole salespeople imagine that customers value a vendor's responsiveness above all, however recent research shows that their primary concern is reliability.
In summary, in order to maintain customer focus the best salespeople become facilitators, creating a partnership that extends the selling relationship within the customer's company. The motivation to achieve this should be strong - as I suggested in a post last week , it now costs fifteen times as much to attract and sell to a new customer as it does to an existing one!
The right to do business has to be continually earned and never assumed - that is certainly a message we will all need to heed in Q4, if we wish to end the year strongly.