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Who is your Customer?

SparkPilot.com_man_with_moneyOver the years I have received a number of calls from sales people; in this case, one of our sales people was demanding that I give away services as part of a deal that she was working on. I listened to her rant and accuse people of not providing customer service and it got me thinking and I asked her the following questions:

  1. in her mind, who is her customer?
  2. who does she believe is my customer?
  3. what is more important to her? her client, our employer or her commission?

The answers blew me away:

  1. her client
  2. her
  3. her client because her credibility is on the line and she has already promised the discount to them so that she could get her commission – she was a single mother and wanted to upgrade her Tesla

…..and so we come to the root of the problem….she believed that she was my customer. She did not want to hear that I believed that it was her job to represent our company and generate revenue from the services that we provided to the customer. So I politely listened to her rants and accusations until she tired of speaking to me and hung up.

Since then, I’ve discussed the “who is your customer?” with a plethora of people, from VC’s & board members, software engineers to sales, and very few people agree right out of the gate. If logic prevails, we always seem to land up in a similar place:

The customer is the entity / people that is paying your bill.


Partners that have staked their credibility by reselling your product or service are collaborators and not customers. 

For organizations that are getting their funding from other internal fellow-employee organizations, this is a more complex question and tends to be a more of a company culture item.


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