Here's a quick way to assess whether you (and your firm) are vulnerable to the big fat boot.
Pick the description that best encapsulates the relationship you have with your biggest customers:
- #1 PARTNER: Your customer calls you into organizational discussions at the highest level of the corporation.
- #2 CONTRIBUTOR: Your customer asks you for strategic assistance in dealing with broad-based business challenges beyond your firm's offerings.
- #3 CONSULTANT: Your customer treats you as a resource on how to best use your class of products or services.
- #4 PREFERRED SUPPLIER: Your customer has a long history of working with you and buys from you without requiring additional discussions.
- #5 VENDOR: You are seen by the customer as a legitimate provider of the products or services you offer.
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SCORING: Match your response (shown in boldface) to reveal the type of relationship that you have with your customer:
- PARTNER. Because you're participating at the very highest level, your products, insights, processes, etc., are seen by the customer as critical to the long-term success of their own business and own clients. Likelihood of being dumped within 1 year: less than 5 percent.
- CONTRIBUTOR. Because you are regularly brought into business discussions that are above and beyond your products, your strategic focus often allows you to sole-bid deals, even though competitors may offer similar products. Likelihood of being dumped within 1 year: 10 percent.
- CONSULTANT. During brief periods when your offerings may not be as robust or are more expensive than those of the competition, your customers will continue to buy from you because they consider the premium you bring to the table when making their final choice. Likelihood of being dumped within 1 year: 20 percent.
- PREFERRED SUPPLIER. You've got the inside track on sales. While competitors may offer alternative offerings, all things being equal, you win the lion's share of the deals over the competition. Likelihood of being dumped within 1 year: 30 percent.
- VENDOR. You are not recognized for having any significant competitive edge over other alternative offerings and therefore must often compete on price and discounting to close a deal. Likelihood of being dumped within 1 year: 50 percent.