Identify Your Customer’s Decision Critera


If you are a client of mine, then you’ve heard me say you should refrain from using the word “partner” when selling to a customer. Every selling organization out there is telling the customer they want to be a “partner.” And yet, how many actually deliver on the promise? I tell my clients that they must earn the right to describe their relationship in those terms by understanding the customer’s decision-making criteria and aligning to it.

Recently, my client had produced spectacular outcomes (success) for their customer. As a result, their customer sent an email copying senior management, showing a real appreciation for the hard work. In short, they called my client a true partner. Then, the primary contact at the customer and his boss asked themselves, “what really makes a partner?” After much deliberation, they came up with the following definition: “A partner acts like an Owner and thinks like a Customer.”

Looking at the first part, “acts like an Owner,” tells me a partner acts on things that are important to the company. Owners act on outcomes that are critical to the business. They focus time, money and resources on outcomes that are critical to the business.

The second part of the statement, “thinks like a Customer,” tells me a partner is thinking about the right outcomes. These are the outcomes that are critical to the customers of the company. After all, what is the purpose of any business other than to serve their customers better than the competition?

This statement is telling us that a partner is focused on producing critical outcomes and the most critical outcomes are those that are important to the customers of the company. How can you determine which outcomes are important to customers? Below is a resource to do that, called “Decision Analysis.”


About the Author

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson

Steve is the founder of Value Lifecycle, a strategy consulting firm, with clientele representing over 100 diverse industries. He has over 33 years of experience in operations, sales, sales management, purchasing, and executive management. After working extensively on both the selling and buying side of the equation, Steve brings a unique perspective to the challenges facing his clients as they define and execute their business strategies. Steve have consulted, trained, and implemented both strategic and tactical buying and selling programs in all major North American market centers, as well as Europe, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa.