When the partnership becomes the journey

Helping sales managers to become more customer-centric through a relational approach

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The value of customer relationships appears to be a hot topic at the moment as companies need to move from competition to collaboration, or how I will largely refer to: from transactional to relational. However, the value which current customer relationships generate is far from the claimed collaboration. For many years, transactional relationships kept companies in a stable comfort zone with easy cash flow, measurements and ongoing linear chain processes. However, they need to survive, but large corporates might find difficulties in acquiring new approaches to their relationships but start recognizing that their internal operations may be the key reason (Junginger, 2017). Looking at my personal motivation towards interactions and relationships between people, I see customer relationships not as on the interaction between companies but people. Although the word “customer” is largely used along with the thesis because of the Philips terminology, a relationship between people from different companies - a partnership, should equalise both sides of individuals as partners. Removing the roles of customer and provider helps to step out of the unwanted transactional approach. The same happens with customer-centricity. Although customer centricity seems to be the saving boat, companies struggle to apply it. Because it is not the company itself that needs to be customer centric, but the employees. To overcome the transactional approach of Account Management, Philips needs to understand that there are external factors to account managers that influence the behaviour of these and consequently, the outcomes of the customer interaction. Incentivisation on new deals and commercial education takes a big role within the context but this project will focus on the education side - training. Companies deliver education to their employees so that they perform under the assumed company strategy. In the case of Philips aiming to improve customer relationships, the organisation provides training to its account managers to sell better. This project aimed to develop a solution space to reframe the approach, knowledge and behaviour gaps in the dialogues between Philips Account Managers and Philips customers - hospitals.