Many companies view business strategy as an internal process, keeping their cards close to their chests – a close guarded secret. They view their customers as the enemy, someone who can negatively impact their profit and revenue if they are given too much influence. These companies tend to build internally focused business strategy, and subsequently find it difficult to understand why they can’t achieve their objectives and why their customers act autonomously. The outcome is a divergence of thinking and vision that negatively impacts results. Companies and their clients head towards different positions. Clients don’t get what they need and are open to other options and companies lose market share and under perform, without understanding the reasons as to why this is happening.
Successful business strategy is about believing that the true knowledge source behind identifying opportunities and growth lies within their markets and customers. The way forward is to identify, engage and partner with key markets and customers to develop valuable insights that uncover future opportunities and sources of growth. The by-product of this thinking is that you develop strong strategic customer relationships that are difficult for competitors to breach, while building your own competitive advantage.
Engaging and building relationships with key customers is the pillar on which a company’s competitive advantage can be built. Earning a customers advocacy helps create proprietary insights and cultivates the source of future business opportunities. By facilitating customer relationships, companies can tap market insights to develop ongoing innovation so that their value proposition is consistently differentiated and always meets future customer needs.
Invariably most companies that do under perform are not close to their markets and customers. Whether this occurs because of philosophy, organizational turmoil or merely just complacency, the outcome is the same – a difference in vision and diminished levels of performance. Therefore the ultimate goal needs to be a common vision built on trust – and this can only be understood and built by consistently talking to your customers.