Everybody talks about being customer-focused, but few people really know what it means.  Here are four basic elements of customer-focus, based upon presentations from four of the smartest people in the sales training business.

1. Constantly Gather Information

The more you know about a customers, the better you'll be able to help out. Research each customer thoroughly and when you meet, ask questions that deepen your understanding.  Such knowledge makes selling easier and increases the percentage of prospects that become customers.
Ian Gilyeat, founder and chief marketing officer at I.R. Gilyeat & Co

2. Get Embedded in Their Strategy

To forge a deeper relationship with your customers, show them how your corporate strategy meshes with theirs. Rather than merely sell solutions, sell them on the idea that you can help them sell to their own customers. Think long-term partnership, rather than short-term sales goals, and you'll grow as your customers grow.
Greg Shortell, President and CEO at Network Engines

3. Emphasize Customer Retention

It's always easier and less expensive to sell to your existing customers than to cultivate new ones. In addition, a loyal customer base spreads the good word, providing referral sales that are easy to close. By contrast, when you're losing customers, you've got to acquire even more new ones, just to keep revenue flat!
Jerry Colletti, owner and managing partner at Colletti-Fiss, LLC

4. Debrief After Customer Engagements 

Your organization can't learn from its mistakes or its successes if you aren't willing to examine each customer engagement. Whenever you win or lose a sale, have everybody involved freely discuss what went right and what went wrong, without fear of reprisals or negative performance reviews. This form of organization honesty uncovers both strengths to apply in the future and the weaknesses that thwart your growth.
Jim Murphy, founder and CEO of Afterburner

Needless to say, there's a lot more to being customer-focused than these four basic tactics, but they are an excellent place to start.

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