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The ultimate Outside-In lesson for us all

When companies talk about Customer Centricity it is often from an Inside-Out perspective. A “Look, there are our target customers – go get ‘em” approach, supported by a “Buy what we’ve got, now” marketing and sales stance. In truth, this is a parody of Customer Centricity. Genuine Customer Centricity only happens when an company organises with and around its Customers. This requires, first and foremost, the adoption of an Outside-In perspective; recognition that Customer Value is the value perceived by a customer. In fact, our interconnected, always-on world has made this Outside-In, Customer-perceived-Value-led approach a ‘must have’ capability if sustainable success is to be achieved. The Outside-In view allied to “pull” marketing is the only way that the virtually unlimited opportunitie...

Are you brave enough?

It is one thing to say that the Customer is at the heart of any business but quite another to fully embrace the idea. A couple of stories from the not-too-distant past help illustrate the point. First, ask yourself these questions: To build business with a client or prospect what do you need to know about their business? What are your ‘benefits’? What are your ‘strengths’? What do you need to know about the competition – yours and those of your prospect? Now, here’s the first story. A large, rosewood, mirror-polished table dominates the boardroom; around it, 20 or so black-leather chairs. Half a dozen dinner-plate sized ashtrays signal that we are in a time gone by (the mid-1980s), as does the battery of Kodak Carousel projectors facing a screen. For a day and a half, the client executives...

Which came first, the Product or the Customer Outcome?

It is along towards ten o’clock one April evening in 1990, and I am sitting in a restaurant in west London with my friend John Frazer-Robinson – JFR for short. We went there for lunch and are now nine hours in to a lively conversation about the future of sales and marketing. (Total Quality Marketing[i] was published in 1991.) One of the topics we discuss is his theory of three generations of selling. I am immediately fascinated. It’s the genesis of an obsession with Customer Value Management that has stayed with me to this day. Value Creation All buying decisions (all decisions, in fact) are based upon Value judgements, where ‘value’ is an individual’s or group’s assessment of what something is worth, weighing the benefits of whatever is on offer against the costs of accessing those benefi...

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