Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What The Customer Wants You To Know

Author:      Ram Charan
Published: 2007
Publisher:  Penguin Group
Hardcover: 192 pages
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This book by Ram Charan, an internationally acclaimed management consultant, is primarily targeted at Sales function in organizations.
The book highlights what is wrong with conventional approach of selling in most of the organizations. Sales force interacts mainly with customer’s purchasing department and the entire sales discussion revolves around price.
As per Ram Charan this alone will not ensure a healthy top-line growth of an organization. He proposes an approach called Value Creation Selling (VCS) . VCS requires putting more effort in learning about the customer's business and even customer's customer's business in great detail. The more a company knows about its customers, better it will be at identifying their concerns and devising products and services that will help address them.
The best approach for getting to know more about your customer's business is to put in all efforts to become his trusted partner. In fact becoming a trusted partner to the customers was the vision of the company which I once worked for and my CEO made it a point to enthusiastically talk about it in almost every communication of his (Company: Digital GlobalSoft, CEO: Som Mittal, currently the President of NASSCOM)
In this book, Ram Charan tells how to become trusted partner of your customers by understanding - their  business opportunities and their competition; how decisions are made in their organization; their company culture, its dominant psychology and values ; their goals and priorities both short-term and long-term, clearly and specifically.
Having gained the customer trust, the next step is to prepare a Value  Account Plan (VAP) and present it to customers. VAP is an indispensable document that defines the value proposition and the business benefits the customer can expect to get from it. The author provides a template for VAP and explains how to go about creating it. He also provides guidance on how to prepare and make a pitch using VAP.
The book also discusses how to create and sustain a  sales force which implements VCS . The author recommends that recruiting and training for sales should focus on people who have a fundamental grasp of business acumen and are inclined to be team players and team leaders. He also stresses the role the Top Management needs to play in sustaining the VCS process by promoting a culture where all employees proactively think in terms of meeting the customer's need and work collaboratively with the sales force. In addition to this sustaining VCS will also involve establishing  multiple functional contact points between the company and its customer, incorporating post-sale servicing in the process and maintaining confidentiality of information shared by the customer.
Ram Charan firmly believes VCS is the way an organization should adopt to get ahead of its competition for it fosters stronger customer relationships and results in long-term rewards in terms of market share and revenue.

An excellent introduction to VCS  in a concise and easy to read format! Recommended for anyone who is in the selling business. This literally means everyone in an organization as per VCS !

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