I am pleased to have been included in one of Marissa Levin’s articles on Inc.com and to be featured alongside globally recognized entrepreneur Tony Robbins.
Here is an excerpt from Levin’s article, ‘Are You Listening? 12 Questions and 4 Strategies to Win Your Customer’s Trust and Business‘:
In addition to creating the right nonverbal atmosphere for engaging, productive conversations, it’s important to ask the right questions to yield the right answers. This is especially important when building trust-based customer relationships.
According to customer communications expert Bob London, CEO of Chief Listening Officers, there are 3 buckets of questions that get to the heart of what customers really need.
Here is a link to the presentation from the event:
November 14, 2017
Special thank you to Ian Altman of Forbes for publishing an article dedicated to the influence a listening-based approach can have on your customers.
Link to the article:
Here is an excerpt from Altman’s article, ‘The One Thing Most People Forget When Asking Questions’:
B2B marketing jedi, Bob London, heads-up Chief Listening Officers. To be effective, he says, leaders and managers must leave the confines of their offices and actually talk to customers to understand what they care about, what they need, and what they’d like to see done differently. Bob’s mantra is “shut up and listen.” Few people, he notes, do it well.
First, if you are involved in or oversee Sales, I recommend you check out Ian Altman’s fantastic Same Side Selling Academy group on Facebook. Ian, a world renowned speaker and expert on sales strategies and techniques, is building a group of enlightened executives who want to maximize their effectiveness without the tired and sometimes trashy practices of the past.
Go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/samesidesellingacademy and request to join the group.
Now, about this video–which was originally broadcast live on the Same Side Selling Academy. In it, I chronicle some of the most cliche questions that customers and prospects are still asked–as well as some fresh, proven alternatives.
As always, you can download my Customer Re-Discovery Playbook absolutely FREE at www.chieflisteningofficers.com/customer-discovery-playbook-2.
October 30, 2017
The webinar started at 2 pm, promising useful, practical tips and tools. At 2:15, the expert was showing pictures of his “beautiful” wife and kids. At 2:25, he was talking about the abuse he suffered as a child. At 2:35, with not a tool or tip in sight, I logged off.
Still asking customers, “what keeps you up at night”? Well, 1995 called, and they want their question back. When you ask cliche answers, you don’t get insights–you get cliches.
Instead, here are a few questions that will help you discover fresh, actionable perspectives from customers and prospects.
As always, you can download the Customer Re-Discovery Playbook, absolutely free, at www.chieflisteningofficers.com/customer-discovery-playbook-2.
If I’ve learned one thing in several decades of hands-on marketing leadership, strategy and execution, it’s that great marketing starts with great listening.
And great listening means asking your customers questions your competitors haven’t asked.
In fact, one of the pivotal moments in my evolution from Chief Marketing Officer to Chief Listening Officer was when I started asking my clients’ customers (and prospects) this simple question during my “customer rediscovery” interviews:
What would make you a customer for life?
October 11, 2017
Products are cool. They’re sexy. Useful. You can touch and feel them. They can change the world. Successful products (especially software) can scale rapidly and cost-effectively, so investors love them.
I get that.
Perhaps this is why software startups seem to get all the love when it comes to brilliant advice, frameworks and tools, such as:
The experts behind these frameworks have done a fantastic job of educating leaders on how to pinpoint and address customer and user needs before and during the product development process.
But It’s Not Always About the Product (heresy, I know).
By doing customer discovery that’s tied to a potential or existing product–and obsessing about UI/UX and features, you’re potentially missing out of valuable insights in areas above and around that product, such as:
- Brand / Reputation: What does our target audience think we do well and do best? Is the product or service consistent with our identity? Does the audience view us as a credible purveyor of the product or service
- Positioning / Differentiation: Are we talking about ourselves in a vacuum? Or positioning the brand/product in the context of the buyers’ needs? Do they agree our approach is unique/better?
- Landscape: What is the full range of competitors, substitutes and alternatives (including building in-house or doing nothing) from the target audience’s perspective?
- Sales Process: Do we make it easy to buy from us–or challenging? Do our frontline people have enough knowledge to add value, or do they have to bring in a SME right away?
- Customer Experience: Does the product or service deliver on expectations and promises? Where are the gaps and shortfalls? In the context of other vendors, are we “pretty good,” “far better,” or “behind the curve”?
- Content: What insights do you need to do our job better? Are we providing those? Where else would you get them?
Inputs like these should not just be incidental by-products of your customer discovery efforts. They’re too important.
This is why I don’t necessarily believe customer discovery should be done by product teams (more heresy). Understandably, product managers and product marketers view the world through a product lens. After all, that’s how they add value to the company. But sometimes their perspective is too narrow–too product- or feature-focused–to see bigger picture insights. By contrast, a CEO, COO or CMO doing customer discovery with a much broader perspective can pick up information that is actionable across many areas of the business.
Try Agenda-Less Listening–at the Brand Level
To do customer discovery at the company or brand level (vs. product-focused) I’ve create the Agenda-less Listening Framework (see below) which I’ve used on dozens of client engagements to:
- Reveal a wealth of actionable insights that go beyond products and services to sharpen positioning and value propsition; and
- Help identify meaningful differentiators and themes that made marketing and selling easier for my clients.
Here are slides from a recent talk I gave on Agenda-Less Listening to a peer advisory group of senior executives. It includes all of the tools and advice (including sample questions and email template and listening tips) needed to launch a “listening tour” or just have conversations with a few customers.