If you work in business and commercial markets and you want to find out how to beat your competitors speak with your customers, that’s our central message. No one knows you and your competitors better than your customers.
Ultimately winning the work you should be winning is about your ability to deliver better value to your customers than your competitors. To find out how you can deliver better value you need to find about 3 groups from your customers -their view on you, your competitors and the customer.
To find out about these three groups we suggest you start with asking 4 simple questions
1) What made you choose us over our competitors?
This question allows you to find out about your strengths and weaknesses as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. At the same time you uncover the client's decision drivers. Often, clients will also talk about themselves and the way they deal with you and your competition, providing you with valuable insight into how to refine your service offering.
2) I felt I could have done (insert your ‘weakness’ here) differently, what do you think?
B2B client relationships are typically long-term with high levels of client involvement and trust.
As suppliers we are involved in delivering solutions over a longer time period than in consumer sales. Invariably things sometime go wrong, or we either don’t do things the way we should or not at all. We recommend addressing these issues head-on. By opening up with clients about our own shortcoming we give confidence to our customer and invite them to be open. This question is a relationship builder and will build trust with the client - it’s all about ‘giving to get’
3) If you could change one thing about the way we work what would you change? (flip)
They're your customers so they like dealing with you, but just like we have friends that we love, there’s always something about them that annoys us but we never say anything - it’s the same for clients. Asking clients what’s the one thing they would change gets to stuff that you’d never otherwise have found out about - the small stuff that could make a real difference. Then, don’t forget to ‘flip’ the question and ask them if there’s anything they wouldn’t change - the last thing you want to do is change that small thing that means nothing to you and everything to them.
4) If I said design your perfect (insert your profession here) what would they (he/she) look like?
With this question you get everything you missed in the first 3 questions and find out how to turn yourself into the perfect business for your client - just make sure you don’t end up looking like a plastic surgery case that’s nothing like the real you.
OK, over to you, and good luck!