The Customer Intimacy Journey: Phase 1 - Form

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I have been asked by several people to spend a little more time on the goals, objectives and key activities of the Form-phase of the journey to customer intimacy.   The form phase can be stated as the proof-of-concept stage.  Think about it as getting the whole organization to see the new model - maybe not embrace it, but at least understand it.

The key steps in the model - some of which I have been taking about - include:

1.    Selecting the target of the pilot - This could be a vertical market - like pharmaceuticals.  It could be a sub-section of your customers - major accounts (a tough one to start with by the way).  Or, it could be a new target accounts or market - that you have not served previously.  It should be component that if successful the rest of the organization cares but not a jugular segment that will cause too much interference. Further, you will be going to the clients directly (must by pass g=current go to market to prove concepts) therefore it must be a group that you can do that without upsetting the effort from the start.

2.    Staffing the effort - This will require in addition to selecting a leader (covered in another discussion earlier) it will require hiring several consultants from the outside.  This is also introduced earlier in these documents, but it is important to get a team that has deep understanding of the market and are used to delivering the consulting front end projects your solutions will require.

3.    Creating initial Solutions - This effort is crucial and somewhat difficult.  Although you have added market expertise in your consultants - they most likely have not done this particular effort before - even if they think they have.  The most important thing to start with is the idea.  If you are comfortable that you have a few ideas that pass mustard, you are ready to begin the process of creating a Service Chain . As I explain, a Service Chain™ is a set of projects that work the way decisions are made (Whether to act, What to do, and Whom to do it with ) they also have built  in linkages so that they pull the next project and products (if appropriate) through. 

4.    Take Service Chains™ to market - This is an effort of getting in from of decision makers having idea meetings to explain the idea and encouraging them to allow a follow on meeting to evaluate the ideas applicability to them - this meeting is called a stakeholder meeting.  At the end of that meeting selling them on the first project in the Service Chains™ to explore the impact of the idea (quantify to impact for them).
5.    Manage accounts differently - This includes taking the account through a cycle of building intimacy and leveraging that intimacy to sell additional Service Chains, building a trusted advisor relationship, and pulling through product you used to sell.

6.    Doing all this in a repeatable manner - This includes ramping up the solutions effort in number of people, revenue, and accounts to prove it is repeatable.

Obviously there are many key capabilities that are needed to be successful at these steps.

Ability to obtain and retain consulting talent - Consultants did not wake up thinking about working for your company.  They must be wooed by your strategy and believe you have the fortitude to be successful.  Also, they must be re-molded into both your culture and to this particular journey - this may be just different enough from their experience to cause them trouble.

Ability to create Service Chains™ - We have been involved in the creation of over 1000 of these and they are easy to understand but very difficult to get both the impact needed and scalability.

Ability to identify/create big ideas - As stated the offer hangs on the quality of the idea. Also, the  quality of the implementation and impact on your business directly relate to the ideas applicability to you and your business.

Ability to sell differently - Taking ideas to market is a joint discovery process with your clients - it requires the ability to discuss business issues in great detail while still focusing on only selling the solutions you offer.  This ability is tough to master, but the good news is that with focus many can master it.

Ability to build a trusted advisor relationship and harvest the account - Clients' want to work with the advisors they trust multiple times.  Being trusted is not about building a friendship but being relied upon for honest tough minded business advice and the ability to deliver.  Harvesting the account is about getting the client to buy from the trusted advisor at a better price point the things you used to sell in a competitive situation.

I know this was a very fast and cursory introduction to the form stage, but I hope it sparks thought and continued dialog about the importance of the customer intimacy journey, the steps involved, and what must be done to be successful.  

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Today I want to discuss the importance of establishing a beachhead - a successful safe place to expand into a market.  This is important for an early solution business and for any new market/customer segment you go after.  You must... Read More

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dean McMann published on March 18, 2010 12:28 PM.

Service Chains: The Go-to-Market Strategy for Customer Intimacy was the previous entry in this blog.

Customer Intimacy: A Step by Step Approach to Getting Started is the next entry in this blog.

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