Tired of Hearing You’re Hard to Do Business With?


It’s easier when you know your customers inside and out

I was talking with a prospect the other day about one of my favorite topics—commercial relationships and the challenge so many large B2B companies have in managing the complexity of them. I said it’s this complexity that really ties the hands of your sales teams to drive revenue—and worse yet, it can make it really hard for customers to do business with you. “Yes!” she said. “We hear that all the time. That we’re hard to do business with!”

I’ll go out on a limb and guess other companies out there have heard it, too.

Commercial relationship complexity is inevitable when we’re talking about thousands of customers with hundreds of sites using the products or services you’ve sold them over a long period of time. Countless contracted terms and commitments, probably highly negotiated, definitely touched by multiple hands—making it almost impossible for anyone to piece together a true, “current state” understanding of the complete relationship.

What you don’t know can hurt business

When we don’t know what a customer owns, the current pricing, previously approved terms, or the SLAs and commitments they’ve signed on for, it leads to sales teams making tragically misinformed decisions. It slows down everything from renewals to upsells to routine orders. Here are some common warning signs that it may be getting hard to do business with your install base:

  • You offer customers products they already own, at worse pricing

  • New orders and contracts don’t take into consideration active discounts

  • Different geographic or product sales teams are offering different terms, or not taking into account what the customer currently owns  

  • You miss renewal dates, or don’t know what the notice period is

  • You’re requiring approval for non-standard terms, even though you’ve already agreed to them in a previous deal with the customer

It’s frustrating for everyone and creates a big risk of churning valuable customer accounts and the revenue that goes with them, as smaller, more agile companies enter the market—more than happy to grab that revenue.

New deal, new redlines, more confusion

We all know most salespeople would tell you renegotiating T's and C's is the most fun part of their job. In all seriousness, imagine you're the customer, and your own procurement team is on top of what you’ve agreed to. But when you come to the table with your vendor to do a new deal, it feels like you’re talking to a new company. It’s like starting from scratch.

Enterprise software companies in particular continue to face some big market changes like an ongoing shift from perpetual licenses to SaaS and the corresponding need to reduce the cost of sales. Account teams are under pressure to engage the customer more frequently, but mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and sales re-orgs and turnover make it tough to stay on top of things.

Some companies will have three or more master contract agreements in place with the same customer, applying to different deals they've done over time. Maybe the redundancy is because of an acquisition or restructuring.

But if you can pull all of that information together, organize it, prioritize it, provide sales reps with an up-to-date understanding of the specific terms at play and automated guidance on what offers should be made, you can effectively avoid the deal desk . You can start positioning the customer for new sales or price uplifts they've already agreed to, and move the deal along much more effectively—and profitably.

In short, you empower customers to work with you in their preferred way, while empowering your sales teams to remain fully aware at every turn in the relationship, and proactive in driving revenue growth.


Justin Schweisberger, Pramata and Dana Therrien, SiriusDecisions discuss why getting to know your customers inside and out can improve sales productivity and customer retention.