Ensuring customers realize the full value of their investment in a vendor’s solution is the foundation for building long-term profitable customer relationships. It all starts with building a customer-centric business model in which driving customer success is a shared philosophy of every division within the company. Consistently delivering value is the key to success. But there’s a problem. No one can agree on how and when value is being delivered. Far too many companies struggle because of a lack of shared understanding of what the customer views as value. In a previous article – “A Blueprint for Aligning Sales and Marketing” – we looked at an approach for aligning sales and marketing, based on customer value.
Now, let’s look at how to guarantee that your customer realizes the value you’re delivering.
Earlier, we defined Value Realization as a journey that involves a continuum of every touch point between the customer and the vendor. Most importantly, the product, solution, or service must be delivered or implemented in a way that ensures the customer realizes the value they expect to receive.
The Customer Value Engagement Process
We’ve created a five-step Customer Value Engagement Process – a process to ensure both the customer and the vendor are aligned around value realization from a shared perspective.
1: Design Value Realization Road Map in Collaboration with Customer
The process begins with defining a Value Realization Road Map with the customer. The road map includes the metrics and milestones used by the customer to measure success. Value expectations are set and monitored beginning with the sales cycle – and are managed via the road map through the entire Customer Value Lifecycle. If there is a services component, the service group must sign-off on the scope and schedule as well.
2: Share Road Map with Key Internal Stakeholders
Next, all stakeholders from the vendor are incentivized to meet their targets and provide constant communications to the appropriate customer representatives. This ensures a tight coupling with customer expectations.
3: Establish Customer-Touch Frequency
The vendor and customer agree to a schedule of milestones, along with the scope and significance of the progress reviews planned.
The vendor executes the project or delivers the product/solution according to the Value Realization Road Map. Any surprises are quickly identified and communicated across both vendor and customer organizations.
5: Share Value Engagement Intelligence with All Stakeholders
Regularly scheduled progress reviews ensure that both customer & vendor representatives are continuously focused on delivery and meeting the objectives defined in the Value Realization Road Map.
The Advantages of the Value Realization Road Map
There are at least four clear benefits of the vendor using a Value Realization Road Map:
- Confirms Value Realization
- Uncovers Expressed and Unexpressed needs
- Identifies Churn Risks
- Improves Profitability
These are sustainable benefits, because they are tied to customer success.
The only way to achieve real, constructive alignment between the entire vendor organization and the customer is to organize all activities around customer value, ensuring that value, as defined by the customer, is delivered consistently and efficiently.
Value can effectively be delivered if a vendor takes control of the customer journey by establishing a Value Realization Road Map, in collaboration with the customer, at the time of implementation. Additionally, the map also serves as a backend process that aligns the vendor’s functional groups to provide a consistent and credible customer value realization experience.
Javed Matin is an independent management consultant helping B2B companies accelerate revenue growth through sales and marketing optimization. Over the past twenty years, he has developed global sales operations programs, training and effectiveness audits across multiple industry sectors.