chapter  1
18 Pages

Introduction: A Way to Reach Customers

A dynamic, practical sales tool that can greatly enhance the customer development and retention process and give firms a distinct competitive advantage is the customer advisory board (CAB). A board can help a sales force broaden its decision-making expertise and generate more business. Sales involves more than an upbeat personality and hard work. It involves product or service knowledge, a proficiency in selling, an awareness of market conditions, and adding value to what the customer is doing. Industries and markets that are changing rapidly, due to globalization and advancing technology, pose a more complex business environment today. Thus, some firms have a customer advisory board, or its equivalent, to act as an advisory and management auxiliary resource in the face of these conditions.1 (For specific activities of CABs see Figure 1.1.)

Customer retention is more complex than ever before and there has been a dramatic change in how selling takes place. Customer relationship building is a driving force in the selling process. To assess what entails an effective sales effort, companies must first identify why their customers chose them. It is essential to have a clear understanding of what customers want and concentrate on providing it. In a study conducted by Learning International, 29 percent of 210 corporate customers with vendors in the technology, financial services, and pharmaceutical industries reported that business expertise and image ranked highest among various attributes that lead to satisfaction levels with a supplier.2