Posts Tagged ‘competitor’

Know Thy Customer … To Become a More Successful Supplier

Monday, May 18th, 2009

No matter who you are – a doctor or lawyer selling your expertise, a giant corporation selling industrial equipment or telecomm services, a shop owner selling latest fashion to upscale teens – the most successful competitors in your business are typically the competitors who most nearly give the customers what they want.

“Well, duh,” you might say, “I don’t need some outsider to tell me that, or to tell me what my customers want. After all, I talk to them every day.”

Unfortunately for most business leaders, from the smallest one person shop to the mega corporation, those customer conversations are usually dominated by immediate, urgent priorities – fixing a problem, collecting an overdue invoice, negotiating a price, scheduling a meeting or a delivery. In these discussions, too little energy is directed toward creatively discussing the future – to contemplating product development, offering enrichment, and growth strategies.

Companies grow and prosper by identifying and satisfying customers unmet needs. Seems simple enough: if you don’t already know what your customers need, then just ask them. Problem is, it just isn’t that simple. Ask the question “What are your unmet needs,” and you’ll likely hear “Lower price!” and “Hmmm … That’s a good question.” The truth is that unmet needs are unmet NOT because we ignored them, but because they are so hidden and ingrained in the way the market does things that we never recognize the possibility of a better way.

Uncovering and explaining those hidden issues is the role of marketing research. Whether you do it yourself, rely upon your company’s market research department, or bring in an outside consultant, digging into your customers’ business environment and developing honest, dispassionate insights about the world they live and compete in is the key to serving your customers better – and to making your business more a desirable and successful supplier.