As we approach the end of the year, there’s always a huge intensity of activity. A lot driven by the various holidays we celebrate, a lot driven by year end (or quarter end), and some driven by preparations for the new fiscal year.

It’s easy to lose focus on our customers.

But perhaps it’s worth a few minutes to reflect. Perhaps even spending some time in review with them.

The key issue is, “How have you helped them improve their outcomes in the past year?”

At the core of everything we do, our success is measured less on achieving our sales numbers, but more on the results we’ve helped our customers achieve.

It’s important to both our customers and us, but too often we tend to forget about it–or we realize they haven’t achieve the outcomes expected.

This isn’t driven by some airy concept of customer-centricity, though that’s very nice. These are really data driven, tough minded business discussions.

How have you helped your customers improve their outcomes?

Sure you may have gotten an order, but customers don’t buy just to buy. They buy to achieve results. Did they achieve them?

If they have, it’s a powerful conversation to remind them of what they have achieved and how you helped them.

If they haven’t, it’s a wake up call about a potentially unhappy customer, someone who will be unlikely want to do business with you in the future.

Take a few minutes, look at your major deals in the past year. Has your customer achieved the goals (or is on track to achieving them) they expected?

Consider doing a brief review with your customer, it has several powerful impacts:

  1. You and they get to make sure things stayed on target.
  2. The customer may have moved on, forgetting the success they achieved. It’s a good time to reflect and remind them of your role in helping them achieve success.
  3. If things aren’t on target, you and they need to correct the situation. They may be under intense pressure from their management, and your future relationship is at stake.
  4. It’s a good way to start exploring, “What’s next?” They’ve been involved in their annual planning, they are looking to continually change and improve. Leveraging the past success and looking into the coming year is a great way to start identifying new opportunities you can attack together.
  5. If they aren’t looking at what’s next, piggy-backing off the past success, suggesting ways they might continue to drive positive business outcomes will get them thinking about new opportunities.

The end of a year, beginning of a new year is always a time where everyone both reflects on the past year and looks toward forward progress. Engaging your customers in a review of the outcomes you have helped them achieve is an eye-opening conversation for both of you.