Chief executives who ask me, “What do I need you for?” have learned that they need me to equip their sales forces with an answer to that same question when it is asked by their own customers.

In an era in which customers control the way they want to be sold and, by doing so, have superseded their suppliers’ pretensions of account control; in which products and services, however new, are likely to enter their markets as instant commodities; in which margins are the reward for improving a customer’s profits rather than for improving your products or services; either you never leave home without new competitive advantages to bring to a customer or you stay in the car.

Customer managers at all levels, even technically ...

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