Fein-Lines: Who is Your Customer?

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 income through salary, and the commission associated with selling your company’s product. But what is your medium- or long-term goal? It is never too early to consider 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 question, “Who is the customer?”

But if your goal is to climb the corporate ladder, eventually get into sales management, junior 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 directors. 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 competition with others in your company for those valuable positive relationships; you may find yourself on the opposite side of an issue or strongly feel that the wrong path is being 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. Sometimes the customers in this category are your competitors and/or rivals. Sometimes it can pay huge dividends to “respect while you oppose.” It is very possible to beat your competition 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 or by building a better relationship and gaining the business even though your product may not be superior. Or perhaps it is by helping the career of an internal competitor even though it was you who got the promotion. Sometimes you can work with a competitor on an industry project for the common good.

When you beat someone for the sale, or perhaps for a key promotion, or you work with them on a common project, you have a great opportunity to gain the respect of the competition who may have just lost to you. Find a way to then help them and take advantage of the opportunity. Years later I will bet that you will be glad you did.

I can recall situations in my career where all of these situations helped me get to where I wanted to go. Remember the path does not end when you make the sale. The marketing plan is a life-long path and there will be times when some people you never expected to  do so will become your customers.

Dan Feinberg is president of Fein-Line Associates and a contributing editor for I–Connect007. To read past columns or to contact him click here.

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2018

Fein-Lines: Who is Your Customer?

03-13-2018

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?

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2017

Fein-Lines: So Much Virtual Reality, So Little Time

12-11-2017

It is hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us and that means that it is almost CES time again. CES marks so many new announcements as well as the unveiling of advances for technology that is truly gaining ground, such as autonomous vehicles, drones and augmented/mixed/virtual reality or, in some cases just the opposite, flash-in-the-pan trends such as 3D TV are also evident by their sudde

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Fein-Lines: Virus, Phishing, Ransomware…Oh My!

05-25-2017

Malware, the collective name for viruses, Trojan horses and other malicious software that can infect your computer, has been in the news lately, probably more than at any time I can remember. Over the years, malware has evolved; it can affect smartphones and tablets as well as all computers.

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2016

CES: Day One

01-05-2016

CES Unveiled is the official media event for CES. It is the first official happening of what promises to be a very busy and fascinating week. At this event, members of the press get to preview a number of innovative startups as well as some new products from a few established global brands.

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2014

Fein-Lines: Computer Security Tips

11-17-2014

Many scams are perpetrated on unknowing computer users. They come in all flavors and no one--no matter what type of computer you use--is immune. This month, Columnist Dan Feinberg focuses on the "I am from Windows and I'm calling to fix your computer" scam.

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2012

Fein-Lines: Dealing with Problamatic Links in E-Mail

09-11-2012

For the last several months Dan Feinberg has had a number of students, friends, and clients ask for help with e-mail links that do not take them to the desired website. This webcast describes what he thinks may be the issue, and also provides a fix that has worked for him 100% of the time.

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2010

Fein-Lines: 32-Bit Versus 64-Bit--What's the Difference?

06-09-2010

One question Dan Feinberg often gets during his seminars is: "What is the difference between a 32-bit and a 64-bit operating system and why should I use either?" In this issue of Fein-Lines, he explains the difference and what choice you should make--and why--along with things to consider when making your choice.

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2008

Fein-Lines: Copper Dissolution Interview, Part I

06-18-2008

Dan Feinberg begins a series of interviews, with Michael Carano, Global Business Development Manager of Cleveland, Ohio-based OMG Electronic Chemicals, tackling the topic of copper dissolution with lead-free solder--an issue that is certainly not new to the industry.

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Fein-Lines: Friends and Business Do Mix

05-08-2008

Senta Wong, of WKK Trading Company Ltd., is a man considered to be one of the fathers of the PWB and electronics assembly industry in Hong Kong and China. Dan, who's known Senta since the mid 1970s, discusses how Senta successfully mixes business and friendships--a fact evidenced by his most recent gathering of close friends and associates at APEX in Las Vegas.

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Fein-Lines: Me Too

04-24-2008

In Dan Feinberg's latest audio column, he joins others in our industry in giving his opinions on the recent IPC Printed Circuits Expo, APEX and the Designers Summit 2008 and Nepcon China. Dan also fesses up about Los Angeles and vents about the growing number of regional shows--are there just too many?

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2007

New Column: Dan Feinberg

10-24-2007

Listen to Dan Feinberg's newest audio column.

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Fein-lines: An Interview with IPC President Denny McGuirk

10-10-2007

I-Connect007 Columnist Dan Feinberg and Steve Gold speak with IPC President Denny McGuirk. Their conversation addresses changes in the focus of IPC's Government Relations committee, as well as the effect of globalization on IPC's mission.

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