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

Commercial relationship complexity can make it really hard for customers to do business with you. Read about the pitfalls that might be putting revenue at risk.

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

The other day, I was talking with a prospect about one of my favorite topics—commercial relationships and the challenge of so many large B2B companies in managing their complexity. I said it’s this complexity that ties the hands of your sales teams to drive revenue—and worse yet; it can make it 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 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

Sales teams make tragically misinformed decisions when we don’t know the current pricing, previously approved terms, or the SLAs and commitments they’ve signed on for. 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 customers:

  • 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 require 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, 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.

Software companies in particular continue to face 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), sales re-orgs and turnover make it tough to stay on top of things.

Some companies will have three or more master contract agreements 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 that information together, organize it, prioritize it and provide sales reps with an up-to-date understanding of the specific terms at play, 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 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.

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