22 January 2013

Customer is the sole reason why companies exist

Written by Juha Wallius
Published in Oil products

'In the past doing business was much easier.' You may have heard this as a statement from a sales person. Perhaps so, and the most likely reason for this has been a limited amount of information of products and services available in those days. Back in the days this limited amount of information made it easier for the seller to convincingly tell the customer about all the benefits included in his or her offering. In other words, the market demand was very much created and communicated by the producer.

As we have moved towards today, more producers of high-quality, low-cost products have occurred. This is thanks to the globalization of markets and the commoditization of many products.

And there are efficient tools to examine these markets. The internet offers an information superhighway accessible to everyone. Nowadays, customers have access to high-quality decision-making information and numerous sources and options of supply. The balance of power has completely shifted to the customers, who now define their own individual value propositions. Today customers are simply no longer willing to listen to the salesperson’s description about how their marketing colleagues define value.

With 'first we make and then we sell' marketing obsolete, the most successful sales and marketing now relies on learning and responding to customer needs. The role of sales has evolved from communicating a predefined value proposition to working with the customer in order to create their own unique value proposition.

Yet most sales forces have not made this transition. In order to survive and prosper in this new environment, sales force management and personnel must recognize and accept that the customer — not the marketing department — defines the value proposition. Sales is no longer about doing a good job in communicating features and benefits. It’s about working with each customer to create value as the customer defines it.

This finding has led many companies to start development programs, which support the new way of selling and marketing goods and services. In the best case, these programs are not just internal exercises, but do bring together both selling and buying organizations to collectively seek and develop best and next practices to gain more competitiveness. Neste Oil's vision to be the preferred partner in clean traffic solutions strongly emphasizes the work towards this kind of partnership with our customers.

Juha Wallius
Manager, Customer Focus Program