Understand your customer’s business

Lots of surveys show that customers involve their suppliers  later and later in their buying process. And when they finally do, they expect you to understand their requirements and what is important to their business operations.

Customers are up to 70% ready for the purchase before they approach their suppliers’ sales reps. They search for information to self educate, to get opinions from others, and to narrow down their alternatives to a short list. The web, social business, and active user communities offer tremendous convenience and value to customers.

However personal interactions are still – compared to other sources of information – very influential in the customer’s decision making process. In B2B 70% of the buyers want sales involvement in quite an early stage. Gartner Research found that if buyers are involving sales people, they do this typically to hear more details after they have done their own initial information gathering.

Marketing and Sales people complement each other in pulling the customer further into the sales and marketing funnel. First it is Marketing’s role to educate the buyer with attractive information on channels like the website. Next, the physical sales conversation should be used as a way to develop a customized interaction above and beyond what they can find on their own.

If the sales conversation is still so important, how can it be that most customers describe the purchase process as painful?

70% of customers’ buying experiences are based on how they feel they are being treated (McKinsey).

Interestingly I recently heard from a procurement manager at one of the largest European shipyards, that some suppliers still think they can draw the attention of their customers by throwing their catalogue into the MAILBOX of their customers. Apparently these suppliers are unaware of the fact that customers feel suppliers are wasting their precious time thinking they would really go through these pages. They also feel insulted, because the supplier seems to think that the customer was unable to find this information on their own surfing the internet.

Remember then also, that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience (Ruby Newell-Legner).

The more complex the buy, the more prepared and knowledgeable are your customers. Therefore you really need to add to this knowledge. When your customers feel you provided them with useful and sufficient information during the sales process, they are 85% more likely to recommend you to their peers (higher NPS) and over 50% more likely to be satisfied with your overall performance as a company.

My advice to you as sales representatives from marine suppliers therefore is:


Show the value you can offer to your customer’s business. Remember that your customers focus on the long lifecycle of their assets and therefore are designing the optimized vessels with the lowest Total Cost of Ownership and Best Value of Ownership.

Prepare a relevant conversation starter – you only get seven seconds to make a first impression – use these well.

My posts are based on my experience and research I have done in the maritime industry. What applies to this industry also applies to other industrial sectors with long product and long customer lifecycles.

If you need help in getting a better understanding of what your customers need from you. If you want to get a better view on what drives your customer’s business and you want to find better ways to influence them with strong value propositions. I am there to help. Marielle@Marinellity.com

Posted on 2019 jul 21.