As you reflect on 2011 and look forward to 2012, are you satisfied with the role you have created for yourself in your customer relationships?  Ask yourself which question better describes your approach to customers: "How little can I get by with?" versus "How much can I do?"

Surprisingly, both approaches take a lot of work.  Determining how little you can do without risking loss of business is a delicate balancing act.  Continually making your argument for why you cannot accommodate customer requests can be rather exhausting.  Far better is a strategy to spend your time and energy finding ways to delight your customer and support their success:

  • Be Honest    Saying "YES" all the time is not the answer to customer satisfaction or sales success.  Consider those times when you said "yes" knowing you should be saying "no."  Agreeing to unrealistic expectations or supporting ill-advised initiatives counters your efforts to become a trusted advisor.  These scenarios start with your best intentions of over delivering but more often than not end with your efforts unappreciated or even worse, leave you complicit in a complete disaster.
  • Be Positive   Look for your most valuable role in offering customer solutions.  If you can't accommodate in the manner requested, look for the opportunity to support the customer's goal.  Many times this will involve additional exploration to get to the root of your customer's desire.
  • Be a Yes-Person   There are occasions in which your customers should be able to count on you to always say "yes."  "Yes, I am committed to meet your needs."  "Yes, I will prioritize to maximize my contribution to your goals."  "Yes, I will always strive to over-deliver and delight my customers."

In reality, no sales professional can maximize every opportunity with every customer or every prospect, no matter how stellar their sales training.  The key is to look for opportunities that yield the greatest impact.  Look for opportunities to over-deliver in grand fashion - situations where your success creates a distinct competitive advantage.  You don't want to get addicted to doing it all for all.  This just leads to mediocrity, leaving you easily overlooked.