100 Ways to Succeed #74:

C(I) > C(E)

This one waltzed into my life when I was speaking to GE Energy sales folks earlier this year. I’ve long said that “forming relations inside our own company is almost as important as the external ones.” While it may not be a Universal, it struck me that in many cases “C(I)”—our Internal customers—are in fact … MORE IMPORTANT … than C(E)—our external customers. In the GE case, systems sales, often to “foreigners,” the salesperson (my GE informant who’s a very successful salesperson) wants “an … UNFAIR SHARE” … of a host of insiders’ time—engineers, logistics folks, the risk-assessment staff, and even lawyers. Lots of GE dudes are selling lots of stuff—and need, yesterday, lots and lots and lots of Inside Help. I (salesperson) want to be at the front of the queue for the harried risk-assessment staffers’ time & attention; I want to be head of the queue and getting an unfair share of the engineers’, who must customize the product, time and imagination and attention.

Hence my full set of “internal [customer] relationships” could end up being more important, even far more important, than my “external [customer] relations.” The applications of this idea range way beyond enormous GE systems sales. I, as a professional services person at the “client interface,” want an unfair share—and posthaste—of the Graphics Department’s attention when a hastily scheduled Presentation looms. As a junior purchasing staffer, I want an unfair share of the Legal Staff’s time as I prepare even a medium-sized contract. As a White House staffer many moons ago, I wanted the various Gatekeepers to put my memo to the VP or P or Secretary of State at the front of an infinitely long cue of stuff from people who waaaaaay outranked me.

So, what have you done lately for your all-important “portfolio” of internal … CUSTOMERS????? I(I) + C(I) > I(E) + C(E). My Investment in Internal Customers must frequently outstrip my Investment in External Customers. Think about it. Clearly. Precisely. E.g., when was the last time you took a C(I) to lunch or dinner? Or brought Flowers to the Legal Department after they’d done you even a wee favor?

(Yup, another farm picture—couldn’t resist.)