Sales Team Getting Customer Feedback? Think Again!

So you think your sales staff is getting the straight skinny from your customers, do you?

Not Likely. When was the last time that you found out that a customer was moving on to a competitor OR significantly reducing the amount of business they do with you? If you had a long enough heads up and honest customer feedback, could you have averted the loss?

The truth is that your sales people are not asking questions where they fear the answers. They are not probing deeply to get the answers behind the answers, since they inherently dare not not ask questions which may point toward a potential issue. And on the flip side, your customers are uncomfortable being honest with you. Your customers lie to you to protect you and them in the short-term – ultimately hurting you in the long-term.

We strongly believe that your customers are an underutilized and readily available source of critical information. Isn’t it a given that companies would use all their available resources in order to achieve financial and operational goals? Why then, don’t more companies target this resource in a truly disciplined fashion for strategic direction?

The key is to know how to elicit this information, and turn it into intelligence that can provide direction to improve operations, to understand your customers’ key drivers of satisfaction, to understand your competitors from your customers’ perspectives, and to know how you can drive more business from your existing customers.

So, where do you begin? Begin with a third party professional researcher, who can ask questions without fear of rejection. This is your best bet for gathering candid feedback from your most important customers. They can be objective, and can probe deeply if the answer is a bit shallow. They can uncover competitive threats, elicit honest likes/dislikes, and assess the appetite to spend more or less in the future. Very importantly, information gathered in these interviews can be used to further determine how much more they would spend with you if you fixed issue X,Y or Z.

In addition to having high-level interviewing skills and being non-threatening to the customer, a true research professional is adept at correct question order, rating scales, and question types; all of which play an integral role in providing valuable customer intelligence.

Bottom Line:
To maximize customer spend, use a professional third party researcher. You will gather more candid feedback, know where you truly stand with your customers and will impress them with your level of professionalism and care. Go on and give it a try, you won’t regret it. You may even want to repeat it year after year. If you would like to talk to Patrick about customer intelligence, get in touch with him at pbaldasare@newpeakconsulting.com.

Patrick Baldasare is CEO of New Peak Consulting. Patrick has founded, run and IPO’d several businesses. He is a seasoned customer intelligence professional who is passionate about helping companies achieve success by leveraging customer insights.