Just listen to your customers . . .

Every time the world goes through some sort of major change there will be a few companies that do very much better than the rest – historically one out of every six business will grow substantially through recession or upheaval. So how do you ensure that your business is one of the lucky ones?

At times like this everyone is an expert!

The pundits, consultants, thought leaders and all the rest, rush out their opinion pieces or recycle the comments of others. They know that people are worried about the future and looking for help to plot their future course. Many of the “visions of the future” you will encounter may appear to make perfect sense. One or two of them may even come true – once the dust settles! But there is a vast amount of material out there and much of it is contradictory. Sadly, deciding which of the material is relevant in your market, and appropriate for your business, is an extremely difficult task – it can consume vast amounts of time and remains a “high risk” game.

A new reality

Fortunately – as it happens – all this effort is also completely unnecessary! The world is changing all the time – we just do not take too much notice when the changes occur gradually. However, when the change is disruptive and occurs over a very brief period of time – as has happened with the current pandemic – much that you think know about what your customers want and how they will behave is likely to be wrong. So, it is important that you achieve an understanding of the “new reality” confronting your particular business as quickly as possible.

There is a very simple solution

The best thing you can do is just pick up the phone or set up the video call and talk with customers! It is direct, immediate and unambiguous. Your customers are actually the only people whose opinion is really important to you – if your primary concern is to keep sending out invoices! You need to approach this activity in the right way – with as open a mind as possible – and set aside any preconceived ideas. All you have to do is ask questions and listen to the answers. These conversations will let you understand what and how things have changed or enable you to establish that some things are unaltered. You do not need to limit yourself to current customers – you should talk to past customers and prospects as well. Just remember that making a sale to a current customer is the easiest sale you can make.

Why this works

There is a good reason why this works. “Necessity is the mother of invention” as the saying goes, so in a changing market your customers will have new challenges and problems to solve, or a need to do things in different ways. Most great new business ideas are the result of someone listening to a customer explain their problems and working out how to provide a solution that is perfectly suited to this new opportunity. Being the first to recognize and address a new opportunity also gives the “first mover” a significant advantage over their less responsive competitors.

The simple truth is that companies who innovate are consistently more profitable and are also most likely to survive or thrive.

Your customers will provide you with all the answers – all you have to do is Just listen!


    About Bob Brown

    Helping business owner to grow and transform their businesses in preparation for a successful exit, transfer control to a new management team or the next generation. Work with owner/managers over time to develop and execute their exit strategies.

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