After losing the fourth major deal in a row to a rival, the CEO of a technology solutions company turned to his team leaders to ask what was going wrong.

The sales team doesn’t have the right relationships, marketing reported.

Our products lack key features, sales replied.

The offerings are too expensive, finance explained.

None of these answers seemed right. The products were made in the countries where manufacturing was cheapest, had high ratings from analysts, and included new features that people raved about.

So the CEO finally called the client and bluntly asked: “Why did you give this deal to our competitor?”The response: “Your products are great, but your competitor gives me what I’m looking for.”

As they talked, the CEO realized that closing this deal — and other deals — didn’t come down only to product price, quality, features, or sales capabilities. The competitor spoke the language of the customer. Its salespeople knew how to anticipate the customer’s needs, work closely with its leaders, and come up with solutions to problems that hadn’t even been voiced yet.

The CEO now saw that his company lacked a key ingredient necessary for serving its clients: a deliberate, well-designed, and perceptive customer strategy.

Read all 10 Principles of Customer Strategy

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