From the customer’s point of view there are 4 types of relationships that they have with their suppliers.
And if you can progress through each of the stages I’m about to describe below you can really make a huge difference to their business and your own profits.
You’ve probably heard from the powers that be that you need to “add value” right?
Well, this is what they mean by this. Please take a look at this list below and ask yourself at which stage you currently fit.
If you sell a transactional product then it may be hard to add value. But if you don’t, you really need to move through the stages and quick if you’re going wow your customers and keep them coming back for me.
STAGE 1 – THE ORDER TAKER
If they view you as just an order taker then price sensitivity will be very high indeed and their loyalty to you and your products and services will be zero.
Price will be the major factor and they will just bombard you with price objections and that they can “get it cheaper” elsewhere.
As I said earlier if you sell a transactional product, fair enough. But if you don’t, you’re in real trouble if you’re at this stage.
You’re still classed as a vendor though and the deal is a business transaction rather than a business relationship still.
You’ll be asked to pitch for work as part of a procurement process but any work that you’ve done or any relationship that you have with them counts for nothing as far as this is concerned.
STAGE 3 – THE VALUE ADDED SALES PERSON
You are there for your customers and you add value by helping your customers with more than what is expected.
You’re very responsive, you bend over backwards for your customers and can provide additional extras and value at no or very little cost.
You’re still viewed as a vendor but one that is top of the list.
STAGE 4 – TRUSTED ADVISOR
This is ideally the position you want to be in.
The customer views you as an extension to their business and a part of their business.
Usually, you are able to offer higher prices because you deliver the goods both directly and indirectly. The customer calls you to sound you out on ideas and whatever you say, normally goes a lot of the time!
This is the key for building long-term relationships and is where all of the fruit is!
So where are you on this ladder?
Make a list of some of your customers. Ask at what stage are you with each. You can be at different stages with different customers.
Think about how you can move up the ladder.
We cover a lot of material on how to be a trusted advisor within our Online Sales Training and our Account Management Training courses. It’s all about adding value and building those long term profitable relationships where both parties feel they have the better deal.