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Selectively Pursuing More of Your Customer's Business

Most suppliers lack sufficient customer knowledge to implement anything but the most sales-oriented growth strategies and tactics. If they wish to achieve profitable, sustainable growth and a larger share of their customers’ wallets, they need a fine-grained, disciplined approach to obtaining, leveraging and documenting customer knowledge.

James C. Anderson of Northwestern’s Kellogg School and James A. Narus of Wake Forest University have been conducting management-practice research with companies that have superior knowledge of their customers and use it to devise and implement focused, inventive strategies that create profitable growth while increasing the value delivered.

Using the examples of best-practice suppliers such as Bank of America, Seghers, Technische Unie, KLM Cargo and Telindus, the authors suggest a strategic framework to guide supplier managers in the selective pursuit of a greater share, predicated on estimating the current share of each customer’s business, selecting and pursuing appropriate and inventive opportunities to increase that share, and carefully documenting the profitability efforts. According to Anderson and Narus, building the scope of the market offering, broadening collaboration and using multiple single sourcing each represent ways of growing business share selectively with a customer while improving profitability for both the supplier and customer.

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