Strategic customer relationships: the very special case in thinking about relationship strategy
The last chapter looked at the network of relationships that underpins the successful development and implementation of a business or market strategy. This chapter goes further in examining customer relationships, but most particularly strategic relationships with business-to-business customers (and don’t forget whether they are consumed by industry or households, most goods are sold to other organizations at some point in the value chain). If you were trying to put together a list of the things that keep managers awake at night, then you would probably want to include: dominant customers who call the shots in the market; customers with escalating demands for higher levels of service and new types of business relationship; and the disjoint between marketing and business strategy and the reality of the salesforce in the market. This is a very special part of relationship strategy to which we should give special attention. Many of the implementation problems companies have faced in the past have occurred when smart, innovative strategies meet an unhelpful, cynical and weary salesforce. There are some big questions that need to be addressed when we talk about a value-based strategy that are tied to
sales processes and relationships with major customers, which we need to think about. If you decide you need more detail in this area because it is important to you, then have a look at the other materials we have produced. 1 The structure and the logic for this chapter is summarized in Figure 10.1.