A Sales Engine that Drives Customer Relationships, Part 1 Customer Facing Components

A Sales Engine that Drives Customer Relationships, Part 1 Customer Facing Components

Carl Zuhl

Carl Zuhl

Business Designer at Do Tank
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What is a Sales Engine?

Every business has one, maybe even two; a sales engine is a necessary part of any organization that needs to generate income & enhance customer relationships. It’s the lifeblood that produces the vitality for the business to exist. It’s key to any business because it drives the activities that create & maintain customer relationships, open the channels to reach customers, and keep the business going another day.

This blog post will take you through the customer facing components of a sales engine to show how you create, deliver, and capture value for customers & your organization. It’s structured to see the connections among the components & how the interconnections can influence & change other elements. For example, if you ask, “How might we change the relationship with our #1 customer to double the value we deliver?” one idea might be to add subject-matter experts to the sales team to enhance conversations that spark new ideas with the customer about delivery capabilities. Doing so will impact the activities, value proposition, and relationships you can pursue.

At the end of this blog, you’ll find links to part 2 Sales Strategy Components, plus tools and additional content that are part of the sales series to complement this topic.

Customer-Facing Components

Value Proposition

Keep in mind: nothing happens until something is sold. The value proposition describes how your product or offer delivers value to your customers. There’s an exchange of value that occurs between what you are delivering & the price paid. Think about how this enables your customers to reach their objectives and how it eliminates their pains or creates gains. With higher aspirations, it’s almost sure to change the customer relationship.


Targeting the customer persona with the right DNA match is ultra-important to sales success. Identify the attributes you are seeking in this person. Are they an influencer? Dot connector? In our business, we want to know if they are a believer in what we do, have a burning platform for our services, have substantial budget, and are a buyer. The more attribute “boxes” your persona ticks, the closer you are to having conversations that resonate with them about what you do & how you do it – and getting to a proposal.


Channels are about meeting your customers where they’re at and reaching them in the ways they want to be reached. These channels change based on the relationship mode you’re in with them – Get, Keep, or Grow.

In “get” mode, you hope the client sees your business’ beacon of light shining brighter than your competitors. This might be accomplished through word of mouth, reaching out through social media, advertising, SEO, blogs, podcasts, webinars, newsletters, or customer success stories. Maybe they’re attracted through a presentation delivered with energy & aptitude that echoed a gain they are seeking.

In “keep” mode, you’re working through some of the above channels to stay relevant. In addition, choose channels that allow a personal connection, such as email, phone & video calls, meetings. Keep in mind, content matters!

In “grow” mode, the primary channels don’t change; the frequency, content, and activities change to those that support a true partnership.

Customer Relationships

The customer relationship component connects your value proposition, product, and service to your customer. Without question, it’s the most complex component in the sales engine. Here you need to ask:

  • What types of relationships do you want to have with your clients?
  • What’s the nature of the relationship you want to have: short- or long-term, automated or personal?
  • How can you create an emotional connection to the business?

The key to these questions is considering them through the lens of your client to understand the relationship they want or need to have with you. The three different relationship modes (Get, Keep, or Grow) apply here, too.

In “get” mode, you are working to connect people to the business & engage them. The types of relationships might be non-existent, nascent, or budding.

In “keep” mode, you add activities that build trust & rapport. You’re focused on giving reasons for the customer to stay with the company & product.  At this point, you’re delivering your product or service and an experience the customer loves. This must be supported with activities that build and maintain the types of relationships you’re working to achieve. Think of these as a set of key moments. Typically, this involves regular check-ins that add substance & value to move the relationship forward and retain them as customers. These conversations confirm customer satisfaction, identify current or changing needs, and gauge the temperature for future business. The types of relationships might be described as trusting, consultative, personal, empowering, short/long-term, confident, positive, valued.

In “growth” mode, you’re hyper-focused on the customer and what’s happening in their world. These are the forces that are impacting them and their business. You’re focused on creating a partnership where you’re delivering resources & activities that help your client create value & grow their business. Doing so increases the confidence they have in you, your company & the amount of business they do with you. Hopefully, it increases their willingness to introduce you to colleagues or people in their network who could be future customers. The additional types of relationships might be a key partner, influencer, or thinking partner.

Blog Part 2: Sales Strategy Components

Blog Part 2: Sales Strategy Components

Visual Tools

Business Model Canvas – use this tool through the lens of your sales department/team to map out the current state and to design future states. The link will take you to where you can download the tool & provide a video on using it.

Strategy Lab

Radical Sales Growth through the Power of Design Thinking, March 4th & April 22nd

Recorded Webinars

What’s Your Story: Crafting a masterful narrative to drive business growth

Your 45-minute Strategy Rethink: Bold Steps for Fearless Leaders


A Simple Tool to Help Design & Explore Bright Ideas

The Great Escape: Designing Your Team’s Journey to the Marketplace

How to Host Innovation Meetings Like a Strategy Consultant

Top 9 Tips to Make Your Meetings Memorable

5 Quick Ways to Drastically Improve Your Presentation Technique


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