forum.com http://www.forum.com/blog/do-you-love-your-haters/?pfstyle=wpDo You Love Your Haters?March 16th, 2010 by Jeffrey Baker“Haters.” A head of sales for a Fortune 100 business unit recently used this term tocharacterize a group of people contributing to the unit’s profitability problems. What do youthink he meant by “haters?” Industry regulators Leaders in another division of the company Customers A rival New York City-based rap duoIf LL Cool J happens to read our blog, he’ll be disappointed to hear that the rap duo is not the right answer.Instead, it’s customers. Haters are customers who have budget and need products or services, but who areso difficult to deal with that they suck up time and resources and ultimately hurt profitability.Of course, this head of sales was focusing on the haters simply to prove a point: his business unit’s strategywas unclear, and its execution was poor as a result. To improve, the unit completely re-segmented itscustomers, shifting from a purchase-volume to a buying-behavior criterion. The new segmentation strategyprovided a crucial framework for qualifying buyers and opportunities. At this writing, it is already showingpositive returns for the business, as salespeople are now better utilizing their precious time and companyresources.While some of your own customers may have come to mind for you when you read the definition of haters,your customer knowledge may not be as complete as you think. If you validated your segmentation strategymore than 12 months ago, it is likely out of date by now. As I noted in earlier research, every recessionshuffles the deck, setting up new pecking orders in many industries. Combine this with today’s continuedeconomic uncertainty, and you can be sure many of your customers have changed why and how they buy.Knowing your haters is only half the battle. The other half is dealing with your salespeople still loving thehaters. Salespeople’s customary disciplined, consultative selling approach to selling is now giving way to amuch less effective approach: pitching products to anything that moves. This is natural andunderstandable, given that most salespeople are coming off their worst earnings year ever now. Natural,yes. Effective, no. Winning sales organizations today understand how the buying behaviors in each of theircustomer segments have changed, and align their sales strategies and salespeople with the new realities.How about you? Are your salespeople aligned and equipped to execute your segmentation strategy, or arethey operating independently, shooting at whatever moves—including the haters?