marketing & sales: Listen and Learn
Has your organization ever implemented an improvement project that turned out to be ill-imagined, too costly or simply off the mark? Unfortunately, many companies have. As the economy becomes more uncertain, many organizations (including your competitors) will be looking for ways to shore up lost sales, market share and profits.
Do you want to stop wasting time and valuable resources, fixing the wrong business issues? Do you want to dedicate the bulk of your resources to areas for improvement that will drive increased sales and profitability while decreasing cost and saving time? Simply put, do you want to start fixing the right stuff?
Here, I have detailed a simple formula for market domination through a deeper understanding of your customers and marketplace. The formula begins with a basic survey that ultimately will supply you with the informed knowledge of what needs to be changed, adjusted, eliminated, built and challenged in your organization. In order to dominate your market in lean times and in good times alike, you'll need an extensive understanding of your customers' wants and needs. Let's get started.
1. Ask your people. Conduct an informal survey among your organization. If you are a small to mid-sized organization, this might be done in person or over the telephone. For a larger organization, an intranet e-mail or hard copy survey generally works best. First, ask your employees what they think customers like best about the organization, or ask them to list three things they believe customers would identify as your organization's strengths. Next, ask for three things your employees believe your customers dislike about your company or wish your organization would improve.
2. Build a formal survey. Based on the feedback you received from your staff and management, build a survey of approximately 15 questions that will cover the key items mentioned. Start your survey with two somewhat benign questions. This will allow respondents to have the necessary comfort zone as they begin. Sprinkle your most important questions throughout the survey and sandwich them between questions of less importance. The best way to organize your answer request is on a one to five scale, that allows respondents to agree or disagree with each statement—for example, "XYX Company delivers on time"—within an easy-to-use numeric range.