Customers interview us every day and having the right players on our team is crucial because the interview is based on the representatives of our organizations. Our team must be prepared, dress appropriately, have charisma, good follow-up, and must have expertise that is applicable to the customer/solution. Failing in any of these areas is irresponsible and not acceptable. As organizations, we are hired just like an employee is, and in similar fashion we are rarely the only organization being interviewed. To win, we must consistently put our best foot forward. The most successful organizations interview well and win the job/partnership the majority of time.
Once we win a customer’s confidence (the job), the interviewing continues. We can’t win the job and then disappoint the customer later in the relationship. Customers hold us accountable just as they do their employees. They should/will replace us with someone else if we are not meeting/exceeding their expectations. The need for great customer service, communication, processes, and great people, is organization wide – not just in the front end business development process. We should have the types of team members that make us feel as though everyone is an excellent and helpful customer service representative, not just a select few.
And lastly, let’s not forget the importance of our team interviewing the customer. It is extremely important to ask pointed and genuine questions to let customers know that we are just as concerned about having a good fit as they are. We want to know their challenges, their goals, and how we can help. Without this information it is hard for us to provide real value. Just “checking – in” from time to time is not providing real value. Being a consultant is being a good partner. Giving before receiving is crucial. Starting a meeting with a product or company information dump is the equivalent to being “just another sales person”. How can one recommend what is in a client’s best interest if that interest/need is yet to be known? Asking solid questions and caring about their business first, typically leads to flipping the demand factor.
Most organizations do a less than superior job interviewing initially and throughout the customer relationship life cycle. We should embrace this as one of the easiest competitive advantages to execute on. It is as simple as treating every customer interaction like an interview for a job that we must win, each and every time.