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Why Do Your Customers Buy From Your Company?

by M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant

Strategic Planning Expert

Many companies have a stable, often diversified, list of B2B customers who repeatedly do business with them.  Their strategies are focused on satisfying the needs and preferences of those core companies.  They often take particular care in their strategic planning to be sure they satisfy their repeat customers.  But how deeply do they analyze why their customers actually buy from them.  Is it just the products and services offered?  Is that sufficient to explain why those customers are repeat customers?  Probably not, so let’s analyze the “other” side of the picture.

I would suggest that there is another aspect of the buying decision that some companies don’t directly think about regarding the retention of long-term customers.  That is TRUST. Do these customers trust their supplier enough to want a long-term relationship that benefits both parties?  If so, what are the elements of that trust?

While there can be many sides to this discussion, I would suggest this boils down to three key elements:

3.         Your company is easy to do business with and has a history of offering the products and services that your key customers need on an ongoing basis.  Obvious, of course, but it is a necessary element of the equation.  It is likely that the products and services that you offer today are not exactly the same as those your customer bought in their past.  This implies that you have been ready and willing to change with your customers as they and their markets have changed in the past and must continue to do so in the future.  Sounds simple, but it may not be so easy.

2.         Your company has demonstrated a long-term view of your relationships with core customers.  Winning companies pay attention to these customers whether they are currently buying from them or not.  Ongoing contact and customer service is key to maintaining the relationship your company has established over time.  If you were to neglect constant contact with key people in the customer company, soon your rapport would likely deteriorate and could eventually disappear.  Unless your customer service people are aware of the depth and longevity of the relationship, short-term lack of business could influence them to lower the level of service to that customer.  The result could be a lower level of orders in the future, which could be the beginning of a “death-spiral” of lower service, then lower order levels, lower service levels yet and eventually no orders.  Worst case, yes, but it does highlight the need for proactive interaction with customers to maintain relationships.

l.         As a winning company, make a special effort to engage your customers deeply and personally, whenever possible.  You make a strategic judgment that you not only want to be the supplier of choice but also want to be considered a part of their customers’ resources for the future. Your goal is to be included in the planning of new products or services as the customer plans and develops them.  Your company can be an integral part of your customer’s future, if you have invested in building the rapport, the trust that is a prerequisite for being viewed as a partner.  Why and how does this happen?  It is actually quite simple in concept:

  1. You listen much more than you talk.
  2. You respond with good ideas, concepts and customer service.
  3. You have built trust over the years with your products and services, your customer relationship and your rapport.

With this positive approach, your company can be a valued, trusted supplier with great relationships and a lasting, mutually profitable business.  To read more on customer intimacy click here.

M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. and can be reached at baldwin@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2012 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.