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How Leaders Are Creating Meaningful Differentiation Using AGENDA-LESS LISTENING

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What are your customers and prospects NOT telling you? Why should you care?

Because finding out their real pain points, priorities and rants--what they say on the elevator before or after they meet with you--may surprise you. But these are some of the most valuable insights you can discovery since they provide clues on how you can differentiate your product, services and/or pitch in a way that delivers what's most important to the audience.

This presentation introduces the Agenda-Less Listening framework, complete with all the tools and tips you need to become intimate with your target audience's real issues.

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How Leaders Are Creating Meaningful Differentiation Using AGENDA-LESS LISTENING

  1. 1. HOW TO DISCOVER WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS AREN’T TELLING YOU Bob London / CEO Chief Listening Officers October 2017 How Leaders Are Using AGENDA-LESS LISTENING to Create Meaningful Differentiation
  2. 2. 2 2012 $300M in ad spending
  3. 3. 3 “$#%!& contracts!” “A plethora of hatred for our industry” ELEVATOR RANT
  4. 4. 4 OUTSIGHT
  5. 5. 5 critical questions for leaders 1. What’s the most positive thing customers say about your company? 2. What’s the most negative thing they say? 5. How do you know they’d say this? Or are you just guessing / assuming? 5 3. What’s the most unique aspect of your product or service? 4. Does your target agree? Do they find it valuable?
  6. 6. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE. YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED BY WHAT YOU LEARN. 6
  7. 7. STRATEGIC MARKETING GUY 1999 - 2010 CORPORATE MARKETING GUY 1990 - 1999 7
  8. 8. LISTENING GUY 2011 - Present 15x 8
  9. 9. Companies Talk Past Their Customers “Themes brands consider important have minimal influence on buyer perceptions.” The Disconnect Between Marketers & Buyers “Tech marketers invest in areas that IT buyers don’t consider important in the decision process.” “Just 50% felt they understood customers well & 35% understood their prospects.” CMOs Admit They Don’t Understand Their Target YOU ARE NOT YOUR CUSTOMER Not Statistically Significant “We’re a leader, not a follower!” “So what? Can you solve my problem better than anyone else?” “We can solve all your problems!”
  10. 10. 10 The Disconnect Between Marketers & Buyers
  11. 11. 11 1. You are not your customer. 2. Be human, authentic and curious. 3. Ask questions others don’t ask. 4. Listen with no agenda or filters. 5. Discover and embrace the rants. 5 Rules of Agenda-Less Listening
  12. 12. Differentiating a 20-year old IT Services firm We are great at technology! The problem is, I’m a CFO, not a techie. So how do I not get blindsided by the next big tech wave—and decide whether we should invest—or not? We deliver great service. It’s about our people! Hmmm…would it be helpful if we briefed you every 6 months on major tech trends and whether you should invest? Absolutely. We’re talking “customer for life.” OUTSIGHT 12
  13. 13. Differentiating a 20-year old IT Services firm “Now, when we tell prospects what we do, their eyebrows fly off their head and they say, ‘Why isn’t my IT provider doing this for me?’”
  14. 14. Pivoting an enterprise software company from $0 in sales to 100 customers Our software delivers visibility & control over your public, private & hybrid cloud environments…reduce costs & better governance. We don’t even know all our cloud requirements yet. So there’s no compelling reason for us to buy now. One feature is like a programmable light switch that turns off your cloud when you’re not using it. We call it “parking.” This reduces your monthly costs by 20 – 60%. Now that’s cool. Can I just buy that & not the whole platform? Um…no… You’re trying to solve too many problems. Is there one it solves well? OK, well that’s just dumb. 14
  15. 15. Pivoting an enterprise software company from $0 in sales to 100 customers Our software delivers visibility & control over your public, private & hybrid cloud environments…reduce costs & better governance. We don’t even know all our cloud requirements yet. So there’s no compelling reason for us to buy now. One feature is like a programmable light switch that turns off your cloud when you’re not using it. We call it “parking.” This reduces your monthly costs by 20 – 60%. Now that’s cool. Can I just buy that & not the whole platform? ELEVATOR RANTS Um…no… You’re trying to solve too many problems. Is there one it solves well? OUTSIGHT OK, well that’s just dumb. 15
  16. 16. Minimal marketing No dedicated sales resource RAISED $1.7M PIVOTED TO 16
  17. 17. A series of H2H conversations solely to learn the other person’s perspective…what’s important to them…  One on one phone calls  20 – 30 min. each  10 – 15 customers & non-customers without bringing it back to your point of view. The Agenda-Less ListeningTour 17
  18. 18. Create your target list 18 A mix of customers & prospects o Current customers o Former customers o Lost deals o Suspects/prospects
  19. 19. Subj: A quick favor if you can Dear (name): I hope this note finds you well. I’m touching base to see how things are going and also to ask if you’d be able to participate in a very brief research project we’re undertaking. As background, things are going very well at (organization name). To make sure that continues, we want to make sure we’re aligned with our customers—and that means getting real-world perspectives from folks like you. We’re just looking for your candid thoughts on a few things. Would you be able to have a 20-minute, one-on-one phone conversation with me? If so, please reply with a couple dates/times when you’re free. Or you can use this scheduling link to find a date and time that works for you: (use TimeTrade.com or Calendly). Your involvement would be greatly appreciated! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach me at (phone) or (email). Best regards, (Your name) EMAIL TEMPLATE 19
  20. 20. 1. “What are the company’s top 2 priorities for the next 12 – 24 months?” 2. “What do you and your team need to get better at?” 3. “Does our industry have a reputation—good or bad?” 4. “What are we great at? What do we do better than anyone else?” 5. “If you had a free hour with a world-renowned expert in our industry, what would you ask?” 20 Disruptive, thought provoking questions your competitors aren’t asking
  21. 21. 6. “What would make you a customer for life?” (The killer question) “Hmmm…good question. “No one’s ever asked me that!” 21
  22. 22. Relax. It’s a conversation not an interview. You want their perspective. Let the dialogue go where they want to go. Drop ego, biases & defensiveness. Breath, smile. Be agile and iterative. IT’S ABOUT THEM, NOT YOU. DON’T BRING IT BACK TO YOUR PERSPECTIVE.22
  23. 23. “I wish we had more ________” “We can’t keep doing ________ this way” “I’m so tired of bumping up against ________” INTERNAL WHAT DO ELEVATOR RANTS SOUND LIKE? EXTERNAL “Why can’t vendors just ____” “Stop trying to be ____” “Their software would be great if they just ____” “I hate writing that check every month for ____” • Latent, hidden, unspoken • Raw & unfiltered • In real words (not marketing-speak)23
  24. 24. Use the questions to find your partner’s rant. SOLUTION c. What could a vendor do to address the rant? OUTSIGHT b. What are they really trying to tell you? a. What is your partner dissatisfied with? 24 RANT
  25. 25. Preface your pitch with the audience’s rant Seinfeld: “Did you ever notice that a lot of firms promise you they’ll (rant)” The Professor: “88% of companies complain about (rant).” Social Proof: “Most companies come to us after they’ve had (rant) with other firms.” Innovator: “We started our firm because customers said they needed a way to (rant).” 25
  26. 26. Leverage these insights to improve: • Product/service innovation & delivery • Value prop • Brand identity • Positioning/Diffe rentiation • Sales & marketing messaging • Buyer journey • CX/UX • Personas • Content ideas • Real customer language (vs. marketing-speak) • New use cases • Goodwill • Case studies • Identify problems 26
  27. 27.  Target list  Email invitation  Questions  Listening tips  Hit “send”    ? 27
  28. 28. Thank you! Customer Re-discovery Playbook www.chieflisteningofficers.com/customer-discovery-playbook-2 1-on-1 Follow Up Session www.chieflisteningofficers.com/book-a-call-with-bob-london 28

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