Uncover the hidden costs of poor customer engagement and why training your entire organization to build relationships, uncover needs, and spark innovation is no longer optional.
Trust. Relationships. Communication. These intangibles are now the most valuable currency in business. The transactional model is extinct. Customers demand more, and every interaction shapes their perception irrespective of job title. Everyone within an organization must embrace customer engagement as a shared responsibility.
Beyond Traditional Sales: Engaging with Purpose
Sales or business development often evoke negative feelings and strong pushback. But it's time to redefine "sales." Customer engagement in government procurement is quite different than traditional sales. It's about cultivating meaningful relationships, uncovering mission-critical insights, and delivering cost-effective solutions rather than "educating" customers, overcoming objections, or manipulating them into unwanted solutions.
Customer Engagement: A Team Approach
Engagement is no longer the domain of just sales or BD personnel. Everyone plays a part. Every engagement, irrespective of its nature, molds customers' perceptions. It might be an SME engaging a counterpart. Supply Chain talking to a new supplier. Contracting discussing T's & C's. A PM listening to a customer vent or even an HR representative conducting interviews. These interactions shape customer perceptions of the company, trustworthiness, and desire for continued engagement or reasons not to re-engage (ghosting).
Blissfully Unaware of the Impact of their Habits
Yet most are oblivious to habits, approaches, and their emotional needs that may sour the experience and hinder future interactions. Ask any government customer – not listening, peddling capabilities or expertise and rushing to provide a solution without fully understanding the need is the norm. Overcoming these negative self-centered habits can significantly improve relationship quality, customer access, intel quality, and team morale.
Harnessing the Power of Training
Every team member holds the power to influence relationship quality, uncover new opportunities, and unearth game-changing intelligence. But, without training their best intentions, they might do more harm than good.
Equipping everyone with customer engagement skills is critical and provides the following:
- Enhanced Communication: Customer engagement training is fundamentally communication training. It emphasizes active listening and asking relevant questions tailored to diverse audiences—a crucial skill in government consulting with its myriad stakeholders.
- Elevated Emotional Intelligence: Employees can establish deeper connections with customers by honing their understanding of emotional cues and sentiments. This heightened emotional awareness fosters trust and allows critical intelligence to surface.
- Improved Problem-Solving: Identifying the root cause of customer needs and the mission objectives is vital for uncovering new opportunities and addressing the "real" customer needs.
- Increased Innovation: Training provides the confidence to ask questions and gather intel about outcomes and impacts rather than needs and requirements. This intelligence often provides a competitive advantage by opening the door to innovative solutions that the customer might not have considered. Still, the customer must discover this in your conversation. You can’t just tell them.
Return on Investment
Some question the ROI of customer engagement training, but it must be seen as a strategic investment. Training need not be an arduous, months-long process. Self-paced video courses are effective in standardizing company-wide skills. The result? An organization where everyone enhances relationships, gathers intelligence, and shapes thinking using a common approach.
Increasing your Probability of Win
Everyone impacts future success, and in the hyper-competitive government market, every touchpoint and every interaction must enhance relationship quality and deliver actionable intelligence that improves pursuit decisions and pipeline quality.
As a leader, is your team trained to shape customer perceptions effectively, uncover needs and spark innovation. With the stakes so high, shouldn't preparing them be a priority?
Nic Coppings has over 20 years of experience in government markets and is senior partner at the Hi-Q Group. Nic is an expert in leveraging human intelligence to enhance BD and Capture Processes. Nic empowers executives and their teams to elevate customer and stakeholder engagement through innovative training programs. Connect with Nic on LinkedIn for exclusive industry insights.