Dave Power, of Power Strategy, a former CEO and private equity guy, loves to talk about Top Line Growth – and how to get more. Some of you may remember Dave from when he came to Philly last year to talk at our Growth Strategies Summit. He’s passionate about the subject of beating the “S” curve and I’ve learned a lot from him about staying on top of your market and NOT resting on your laurels.
As an adjunct at the Harvard Division of Continuing Education, Dave recently wrote about surviving what he calls “customer amnesia”. “As a strategic advisor to mid-market companies,” he writes, “I continue to be struck by how few leaders make it a strategic priority to talk to their customers.”
If you’re looking for the next big thing he goes on to say, or just how to improve your current product or service, there’s a good chance that your customers have at least some, if not most of the answers.
So are you suffering from Customer Amnesia? When was the last time you sat down and had an open discussion with a customer and asked how things were going and what problems they were having – not related to your services?
Here’s three simple steps you can take – TODAY – that will help to cure this dreaded – and sometimes fatal – disease:
1) Make a list – of your top 10 or 15 customers, shoot them an email and follow up with a phone call saying that you’d like to hear how things are going for them and ask a few market intelligence questions. And – tell them that the call shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes of their time. (A tip for getting in touch: Never just rely on email to get in touch with people today – too much gets overlooked in the deluge or ends up in SPAM.) And be sure to follow up with a second email if necessary repeating your request but giving them an “out” if they’re “up to the neck in alligators”.
2) Schedule 20 minutes with them on the phone – sometime this quarter. There’s still seven weeks left before July 1st after all. You could also do this face to face but often I find that it’s easier for many of us to start with a phone call. If you end up having a very rich and productive conversation and want more time, you can then schedule a meeting. You may only get a hold of half of them but that’s okay…you can get the others in July…
Now, the important step –
3) Have a solid “How are you? What’s going on?” conversation with them. NOTE: Not about YOUR business – about theirs! Some of the questions that Dave encourages you to use are:
- What are your top priorities these days?
- What are you the most worried about?
- How could you double or just dramatically increase the size of your business?
- What would it look like?
- Are there any other ways we could help you?
Listen with empathy and look for opportunities. You’re not here to problem-solve – yet. But definitely take notes and when you’ve had several conversations, sit down, read through the data and start looking for patterns.
You never know what insights you’ll find. And you may get a great lead on a different product line to explore OR a way to enhance your services to current customers.
Like this approach? We’ve got more proven business best practices that will help your business grow!
Sign up for our upcoming “Four Decisions Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” workshop on June 13th. You’ll get business tools that have helped thousands of small and mid-market companies to success AND get a chance to update your plan for 2013. Here’s the link for more info and to register https://bit.ly/YLRwIS.
And for more on Dave’s blog, click here.