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48 PCB007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2018 Who is your customer? The answer depends on your goal and whether you're talking about the short term or the long term. Are you in sales or marketing and therefore looking to sell or assist in selling your company's products? If so, then you might say that your customer is XYZ Circuits or ABC Assembly or even Ace Distribution. But are they really your key customer? What is your goal? I would bet, at least initially, that it is earning a living, increasing your in- come through sal- ary, and the com- mission associ- ated with selling y our company's product. But what is your medium- or long-term goal? It is never too early to con - sider this. If all you want is to do is earn a living, then identifying the customers and then selling the product to the customers for that product makes it easy to answer the ques - tion, "Who is the customer?" But if your goal is to climb the corporate lad- der, eventually get into sales management, ju- nior executive status, become president, build and grow your own company, increase your company's sales and your career, then you have to separate the customers into at least three categories. Customer Categories The first category is obvious: A customer is a candidate to buy your company's products. The second is your boss or your board of di- rectors. It is imperative that you always have this category in mind. Helping your boss and your senior management team to progress by supporting their goals, making them look good and gaining their respect will pay huge dividends as opportunities arise. I realize that there will be times that you will be in competi- tion with others in your company for those valuable positive relation- ships; you may find yourself on the opposite side of an issue or strongly feel that the wrong p a t h i s b e i n g followed. You may even have to speak out in opposition. Sometimes you may even have to leave and strike out on a new path for yourself. Just be sure that you always keep this category (call it "key personal customers") in mind and do not make your decisions in haste. The third category is far less obvious. Some- times the customers in this category are your competitors and/or rivals. Sometimes it can pay huge dividends to "respect while you op- pose." It is very possible to beat your com- petition for an account (category 1), or beat your colleague for a promotion or disagree with your boss in a respectful or private way and still gain their respect (category 2), or take business from a competitor and still gain their respect. Perhaps you do it by truly earning it Who is Your Customer? Fein-Lines Feature Column by Dan Feinberg, FEIN-LINE ASSICIATES

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