The Idea: How would you grade the quality of your partnerships with your top customers? Does your team outperform more than half of your competitors? Are you perceived as the standard in your sector? Bain & Company surveyed over 300 companies and discovered that eighty percent of companies describe their service experience as ‘superior’, while only eight percent of customers believe that to be true. That perception gap is frightening and sobering. We often think we are more competitive than we really are, and that’s why it’s essential to embrace a ‘Day One Mindset.’ It’s important to think like a start-up: question everything.
At a recent Elevation Forum, the members of the group discussed insights detailed in a recent Bain Report, Barriers and Pathways to Sustainable Growth: Harnessing the Power of the Founder’s Mentality. The report highlighted that eighty-five percent of executives surveyed cited internal barriers, not external barriers, as the primary obstacles to growth. The research emphasized that revenue growing faster than talent acquisition, erosion of accountability, and loss of mission are factors hindering growth. Many of today’s top growth organizations – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix – institutionally embrace a start-up mentality. And that psychology is part of the magic of their culture.
So, what are the new rules of creating healthy, vibrant partnerships in any industry? Only one in seven companies ever ascend to the level of strategic partner with their customers. And if you don’t understand your customer’s partnership criteria you will never create a strong partnership. As is always said, success leaves clues, and these are the behaviors of companies who create strong strategic partnerships with the customers:
- They share uncommon trends bubbling up on the fringe and discussions of “what’s next?”
- They have insatiable curiosity; they listen intently; they possess a granular understanding of customer needs.
- They courageously push boundaries, challenge customers, and align mutual goals to optimize assets.
- They operate with a healthy obsession, questioning themselves and taking nothing for granted.
- They practice full transparency and don’t pull back from difficult conversations.
- They think holistically, understanding in-store operations and solving mutual challenges.
- They embrace agility and focus on solving unmet needs quicker than competitors.
- They simplify discussions, recognizing there’s value in simplicity and getting to the point.
Most companies suffer from an inward focus: too much short-term thinking, not enough appreciation of the broader category knowledge possessed by today’s retail buyers. They do not recognize that customers have more options than ever before. Senior Executives want partners that solve problems, think holistically about the whole business, and share perspectives on the changing world. They are looking for companies that can answer the question “what’s next?”
According to research by McKinsey, seventy percent of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Partnerships are rooted in this same insight. How do others experience you? How are you making them feel?
Want to learn more about the future of partnerships? Our next forum event is the IMPACT Forum August 18th in San Diego. This event will focus on the dramatic changes occurring in sales and brand development due to digital disruption.