The last month of the year is when many people and companies review the past year. We celebrated our 30th year in business in 2018 with a retrospective on CI and how it has changed since 1988. Now, in our 31st year, we are initiating a new column. The View from the C-Suite will be co-written by our CEO, Erik Glitman and our COO, Chad Stimson. Our intention is to use the podium to talk about the kinds of competitive issues we encounter. Issues include those that come up internally and those for our clients. We believe the management issues encountered by leaders across all business lines have similarities and share common solutions.
At the C-Suite, a common issue is understanding the customer and what the customer will want next. There are many tools that managers use as they attempt to answer what customers want, and many of them are held in high esteem. We have found two tools that seem more accurate than others. The first is a round of strategic Win/Loss and the second is Trade Show intelligence.
Strategic Win/Loss is an amped up version of traditional Win/Loss. Traditional Win/Loss is all about the why behind a prospect’s decision. Strategic Win/Loss gathers insights into what features/functions are left unfilled by any of the solutions presented, and at what features/functions were presented, but just did not quite meet the prospect’s needs. Using carefully crafted and open-ended questions, strategic Win/Loss identifies emerging customer unmet needs. With that insight, company leadership can devote resources to build products that meet those needs, and often get to the market before competitors.
Trade Show Intelligence
Trade shows, by their very nature, are venues where companies showcase their best and newest products. One of the best ways to learn about customer needs is to go to trade shows where your customers showcase their products. Too often, companies only attend trade shows for their industries, which makes sense if you want to sell to the industry. But, if you want to learn what your customers want, you need to go to their industry shows. This gives you insight into what they sell to their customers, and that in turn highlights where there are shortfalls. Learning what your customers sell will quickly show you what they need to sell more, and that should always guide your product development process.
The C-suite often lacks the time to attend every key trade show or to read every Win/Loss report. However, they still need the insight from those activities. The solution to this time crunch is to present only essential findings and recommendations for action. Our solution is to distill the findings to a single page report that leadership can quickly read, absorb, and act on.