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In the last post, we discussed determining the company and operational characteristics of your best customers and your previous five wins. 

Now we look at technology and service characteristics.

Technology Characteristics

Every market or industry has technology differentiation. You need to discern which technology capabilities your solution offers that create a competitive advantage for you and which technology capabilities your competitors have that create a competitive advantage for them.

Have your team look at your best customers and your last five wins, then ask a few questions.

  • What technology do you offer that adds value for these customers?
  • What would the ideal technology scenario be for your best prospects?
  • Do you provide a unique technology solution?
  • Do you leverage the technical aspects of your solution to your advantage?
  • How do your best customers feel about technology? Do they embrace it or run from it?
  • Do your customers require leading-edge technology?

To learn how a company deals with technology, look at their organizational structure (which you determined in their company characteristics). Look at the hierarchy of executives managing the company’s technology.

Does the company have a CTO or CIO? Or does it have a high-ranking technologist with the title of manager of information technology (or something similar)? And who does the technology manager report to in the hierarchy?

Companies that embrace technology typically have a CIO or CTO reporting directly to the CEO or President. This means they probably value technologically advanced solutions.

On the other hand, if they have a high-ranking manager of information technology, that person may report to the CFO. This indicates the company views technology as a cost center instead of a strategic resource. They are averse to technology.

If you know a company’s technology priorities, you can learn if those that buy from you are willing to take calculated risks or if they want to play it safe and conservative. 

Risk-takers may be innovators or early adopters who are more open to new technology. Conservative customers are less likely to invest in solutions incorporating anything more than standard (older) technology. These are the late majority and laggards. 

Further analyze your best customers and recent wins because this characteristic classification is incredibly industry and market-dependent. Look for patterns in how customers approach the technology aspects of a solution. How does technology affect their decision-making process, negotiations, implementation, or service? How does it impact any other part of the buying cycle?

Service Characteristics

This characteristic is more about you, but your best customers tell you whether you are doing it right.

Service is a key differentiator for most companies. Also, most think they deliver the best service in the industry. Be honest, though. How do you really compare to your competition? What do your customers expect in terms of service?

Your team should ask:

  • What is the depth of your service department?
  • How many of your service employees have been in the business for more than 10 years, 15 years, etc.?
  • Do you have a separate call center or center of excellence for first-line support?
  • Do you offer varying levels of service contracts or service level agreements?
  • Do you keep service quality or uptime statistics?
  • What statistics do you measure for your call center?
  • What is your policy for escalation and the extent of your escalation capabilities?

Match the capabilities you come up with to your customers’ expectations. Have the team ask:

  • What are the service needs and desires of your best customers?
  • Do your customers prefer to do it themselves? Do they want 24/7 service from you? Or something in between?
  • What level of service did your best customers and recent wins contract?
  • How did they negotiate on service? Do they respect and value it or see it as a necessary evil?
  • Are your best customers willing to pay for a guaranteed level of service, or are they willing to accept less?

Over these last two posts, we went over identifying four characteristics vital to building your Zebra profile. For the next post, we look at the remaining three characteristics to round out your profile and set you on the road to finding your Zebra.

 

We hope you look forward to learning all about access to Power, funding, and return on investment.


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