SELLING FOR CUSTOMER-360, INC.: UNDERSTANDING YOUR PROSPECT
Customer-360 Inc. is a relatively new entrant in the cloud computing business management software industry, having been in existence for a little over four years. It specializes in providing Web-based customizable customer relationship management software solutions that support an entire company, from accounting to Web capabilities. Its software is constructed around an individual customer record so that accounting, sales, support, shipping, and billing all access identical information for each interaction. The company currently serves a variety of businesses across a number
of industries. Customer satisfaction is the company’s top priority and it acts with integrity to fulfill this mission.
Its technology is easy to learn and easy to use, and its information technology staff is extremely knowledgeable and customer friendly.
The company currently employs more than 125 salespeople who call directly on businesses and organizations throughout the United States. Salespeople are trained to be customer-oriented problem solvers who seek to establish long-term relationships with customers. This approach has allowed Customer-360 to experience steady sales gains since its beginning and it hopes to continue its upward growth trajectory.
Laura, a recent college graduate who just completed the sales rep training program at Customer-360, is excited about her upcoming meeting with Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply of Kansas City, Missouri. Privately owned, Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply serves the furniture needs of
its customers through its two large metro retail locations. Each location has a store manager, and several full and part-time employees to assist with sales and operations. The company’s owner serves as president and they also employ a director of marketing and sales, who among other things oversees its salesforce comprised of both inside and outside salespeople, a director of operations, a director
of information technology (whose primary responsibility
is to run the Web side of their business), and a director of accounting and finance. The outside sales force solicits commercial accounts and in large part is responsible for growing the non-retail business for Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply.
A good friend of Laura’s, Alex Goodneighbor, happens
to be neighbors with Chris Style, Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply’s director of marketing and sales. In a recent conversation with Chris, Alex mentioned Laura and how she might be able to help him at Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply. Chris suggested that Alex have Laura give him a call and subsequently Laura was able to secure a meeting with Chris Style the following Tuesday morning.
Laura was delighted that Alex provided her with this prospect and was confident that this would help her get
off to a fast start at Customer-360. Laura has been friends with Alex since grade school. This is not unusual for Laura, who has many friends and close relationships, likely because she shows such a sincere interest in others, particularly
in their hobbies, interests, family, and mutual friends. She enjoys listening to the opinions of others and seems to
get along with most everyone, generally avoiding conflict rather than submitting to others. Laura credits her ability to communicate well orally (she loves to talk and socialize), get along well with others, and build a consensus, in part, for her landing a position in sales at Customer-360.
Prior to her meeting with Chris Style, Laura asked Alex if
she could meet her for lunch to find out a little more about Chris and Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply. When Laura finally arrived for lunch, late as usual, she wasn’t able to learn as much about Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply as she would have liked, but she did learn the following about Chris. Alex indicated that Chris was a good neighbor, but
he certainly wasn’t a friendly, outgoing relationship builder such as Laura. In fact, he tended to be rather cool, tough, and competitive when it came to relationships. He liked to be in charge of people and situations and was not willing to let others stand in the way of achieving his goals. Chris manages his time well, is impatient with others, and tends to be very businesslike. He likes extreme sports and appears to have a penchant for taking risks. According to Alex, at annual home owners’ association meetings, Chris tends to be the most outspoken individual in attendance. While opinionated, Chris rarely takes advice from others and prefers to make his own decisions.
Although Laura believed she still had additional work to do before meeting with Chris, she was at least glad to know a little bit about the person she would be meeting. The more she knew about her buyer, she surmised, the better she could tailor her offering to meet his needs.
- Based on your understanding of both Laura and Chris, how would you characterize the communication style of each?
- What, if any, preparations and style flexing should Laura make to better relate to and communicate with Chris Style?
- Who all might be involved in the buying decision for Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply with regard to Laura’s offering? For each, explain why and how.
- Explain at least two needs that might be met by Lifestyle Furniture and Office Supply by purchasing the software offered by Customer-360.