It\u2019s a moving target: As companies struggle to become more agile and responsive to customer demands, customers change what they\u2019re looking for\u2014with increasing unpredictability. According to the 2017 PWC Global Operations Survey, 63% of business leaders said their companies find it challenging to understand their customers\u2019 priorities, and 61% are hard pressed to change directions in response to a customer need. It\u2019s a bit like navigating by a GPS with spotty satellite reception.\nAs a result, customer loyalty has taken a hit, and executing on the 4 P\u2019s of marketing\u2014optimizing product, place, price, and promotion\u2014has become more complex. So it\u2019s understandable that a company\u2019s first inclination is to redouble and broaden its efforts toward meeting changing customer needs. But could the answer instead lie in selecting your clients more judiciously and prioritizing your time more selectively? \nIf your company is at a crossroads with regard to customer engagement, the following principles can provide more clarity about with whom, and how, to engage.\n\nIdentify which needs matter - and get creative about meeting them.\n\nCustomers can be a needy bunch: with existing needs, latent needs, unrealized needs, or even incipient needs. Which are those that can never be fulfilled? Companies can only turn a profit by addressing a customer\u2019s existing or unrealized needs, only a fraction of which fall within your company\u2019s reach. \nTo address the latent needs of its SMB customers, Toronto-based TDBank recently formed a partnership with a fintech firm to provide ancillary services\u2014in this case, a business valuation service. Coverage of the partnership in The American Banker notes that while such services are not broadly sought after, they can be critical to a select few - and they can increase loyalty. \nThe \u00a0article quotes Aite Group\u2019s research director, Christine Barry, on the value of ancillary services in a competitive market: \u201cOur research shows that offering tools beyond traditional banking products are really what [customers] are looking for. Many go outside of the bank for these services, but they would prefer to have it all under one roof with someone they trust, like their bank.\u201d\nBarry\u2019s comments point to the value of convenience to most any customer. By working with a partner, you can expand your service offerings, increase your value, and create new opportunities to engage with customers.\n\nIdentify which customers matter.\n\nIn a B2B scenario with multiple stakeholders, identifying who makes the purchasing decision can be tricky. But it\u2019s essential to your success. John C. Mitchell of Applied Marketing Science stresses the importance of identifying the most impactful roles to target, cautioning that \u201cunless you consider whether these roles exist and how they influence your market, you risk overlooking an important constituency whose opinion may make or break your product.\u201d\nMitchell suggests tracing a path from the point when your product left the building to its final destination. Between those two points, there are potentially many roles, such as a purchaser, a buyer, a specifier, or an operator. Each of these roles may be considered a customer. There may even be people who play dual roles, but the primary stakeholder is likely the person with so much relevant information that he could impact your product\u2019s design.\n\nLet the customer set the pace.\n\nIn the rush to convert, we often forget the importance of slowing down and listening, asking relevant questions, and finding out what matters to our customers. Rather than rushing things along, focus on matching the customer\u2019s pace. Become familiar with your customers\u2019 mindset and needs\u2014both current and developing, and their decision-making process. Be fast when speed is what\u2019s needed. In all cases, be responsive. \nThe Miller + Heiman Group\u2019s Tamara Schenk emphasizes the importance of tracking and metrics in anticipating and responding to changes in a customer\u2019s needs, noting that, \u201conly when we know what we currently do and how we do it, can we achieve the adaptability we need to respond to customer changes effectively.\u201d \u00a0\nTools such as social CRM can be invaluable in getting a sense of what customers are thinking throughout their journey, and are most effective when coupled with ongoing customer engagement and marketing initiatives. In addition, it\u2019s critical that companies have a solution in place that formalizes the selling process. \u00a0\u00a0\nIn its 2016 Sales Performance Optimization Report, Miller + Heiman found that by formalizing their sales processes, companies can actually increase their ability to adapt to customer needs and meet sales quotas. \nSolutions such as Smartsheet for Salesforce can help to provide a structured experience by connecting sales reps, consultants, and customers, and helping align everyone\u2019s expectations as they move toward closing a deal. Real-time visibility via self-service reports and dashboards help teams rapidly align operations to strategy. And the ability to adapt your processes to match a customer\u2019s requirements can help ensure that they stay engaged, and that your project stays on course to completion.