Customer Intimacy: A Step by Step Approach to Getting Started

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Thanks to those of you who asked me to elaborate on how to get a company motivated to embark on the customer intimacy journey, especially if you are not the CEO or the executive with the authority to directly move the organization. 

I have discussed how to make the case for change earlier, but getting employee "buy-in" is just the beginning.

path2intimacy.gifI believe there are three things to consider:

  1. Determine where your company is in the journey,
  2. Identify your next specific steps in the journey, and
  3. Motivate the organization to take action.
I am not minimizing the effort to accomplish this by trying to discuss all three in one blog post.  Further, this discussion is not indented to be exhaustive, but I wanted to at least provide an introduction to the topics and  some guidelines to assist those of you who asked.

Where Are You on the Customer Intimacy Journey?
Of course you must understand where you are in the journey before you begin to motivate the organization.  As you know not all companies are starting the journey without some experimentation with the concepts - many have taken tentative steps even if they do not fully understand the journey.  As you know, companies have been struggling with the drug of innovation for a long time. 

The following are a few simple questions to assist in assessing your progress on the journey. The point of these questions is to help you understand the scope of the transformation.

  • Have we undertaken the effort to determine if the Intimacy Engine is the appropriate business model for the evolution of our company?
  • Are we (as a team) interested in the future state model and do we have consensus on a shared-vision going forward?
  • Do we know what the journey requires to be successful?
  • Are we are willing to undertake the effort (resources, time, commitment) required?
  • Have established a competent professional services group? 
  • Is the professional services group growing at a sustainable, expected level?
  • Is the professional services pulling through enough product revenue? 
  • Are we focused on the right industry segments?
  • Have we developed key insights to the level to drive ideas or Service Chains?
  • Have we added bundling and product-related solutions?
  • Have we moved up the impact/intimacy scale with our target clients?
  • Are we implementing some form of solution-selling and has it impacted the business in a significant way?
  • Is our product "pull-through" strategy predictable and repeatable?
  • Are we still working in two different business models?

The Next, Specific Steps
This is much more difficult than determining where you are in the journey. It is not simply the effort of determining which phase you're in; this is a much more specific activity.  Remember this will be used to motivate the company to take action - therefore it must be specific, actionable, and important enough to capture the attention of the organization.

Examples of these are:

  • Evaluating and deciding upon potential move to Intimacy Engine model
  • Trying different customer relationship in key market
  • Leveraging our professional services group to pull through product 
  • Determining the segments that should be in the Intimacy Engine model
  • Develop detailed plans for the "Form" phase of the effort
  • Embark on pilot
  • Leverage pilot milestones for educating the rest of the organization
  • Determine post pilot next stage roll out - verticals, markets, etc.
  • Integrate the sales force into new business model
  • Reorganize the go to market business units 

Motivating the Organization to Take Action
Let's assume you have a clear objective - for the next phase of your company's journey - and you want to get the organization on board.  Either the change-champion is the key executive with the authority to take action or more commonly the champion is someone who must influence the organization to take an interest in the idea. 

The champion may be a key executive but not necessarily the one with the authority to make the decision, or she might be the staff executive that sees the organization more broadly and knows what must be done, or the champion might one of several roles but knows in their hearts that the Intimacy Engine must be evaluated as a possible road map for the company.  

I believe the process of getting the organization moving is in stages:

1. The viral stage - This is educational and interactive.  Others you respect must begin to share your views.  This can be accomplished by getting them into the discussion - reading what's being said about the Journey and its benefits, or conducting knowledge-sharing events (see earlier blog entry). 
2. The pro-draft stage - This is about getting the executive audience - usually the few key executives that can affect the organization into the discussion and turned on to your view.  This is accomplished by getting them into discussion and educating them about what you all are thinking, then commissioning a quick what would it look like benefits analysis.  By asking them to let you undertake an action you are gaining an understanding of their motivation,
3. Get the organization behind you stage - Get the broader audience - spread the discussion liberally through the broader organization - use all means available - discussion boards, new letters, blogs, wikis, etc  This makes again makes the effort more real and prepares the organization for action.
4. Draft a strategy stage - Get the key executives to entertain a proposal of drafting a strategy, planning document on the benefits, risks, etc of the idea. The specifics of the document must align with the way your company examines opportunities.
5. Executive focus stage - get the executive team focused on the idea in an in-depth way.  The best approach is to get them away for a couple of days - to first fully understand the idea of  Intimacy Engine, then present your findings, then do a working session selecting where to pilot the concept.  This provides them a detailed understanding - strategically, tactically and the work session allows them to guide the pilot and buy-in.
6. Get agreement to proceed to the pilot planning phase - Close stage 6 with the direct proposal of planning the pilot - budget, time-frame etc.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dean McMann published on March 28, 2010 7:27 PM.

The Customer Intimacy Journey: Phase 1 - Form was the previous entry in this blog.

Evaluating Ideas: Criteria to Foster Customer Intimacy is the next entry in this blog.

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