The Six Step Process
How to gain in-depth insight into your customer's decision behavior.
One - Interviews and Baseline Document
A project begins by capturing your internal perceptions of the important value drivers, purchase drivers, satisfaction levels and drivers, dissatisfiers and price drivers that influence buying decisions in your marketplace. We will do this by interviewing (typically) 3 - 4 executives, and several marketing individuals and customer-facing individuals such as salespeople and customer support personnel from your company.
We document the result of the interviews in the Baseline Document. Not only does the Baseline Document cover your own company’s perception of your perceived values in the marketplace and that of your competitors, but it also reveals any discrepancies between the executive team, the marketing team and the sales force.
Just having the perceptions of your key staff documented can provide significant value, as these perceptions underlie most of the important decisions your company makes. Their views of the price drivers, values, attributes, strengths, weaknesses, competitors, value perceptions of your customers all serve to drive your product development, service definition, marketing, sales and pricing decisions. The Baseline Document correlates these internal perceptions; it gives you a window into your company's consistency and ability to succeed in the marketplace.
Two - Research Design
Rooted in the Baseline Document, Research Design is the custom-created instrument for online surveys and interviews. It expands on the issues in the Baseline Document, and follows the
- "customers' and non-customers’ decision-making" and buying process to find out how the buyer perceives the same issues.
- what really creates and enhances the marketplace's perception of value
- what enables customers to make a buying decision - (or not)
- what drives customer loyalty, satisfaction and dissatisfaction
- what influences willingness to pay and how they decide among the various competitors and alternatives.
Your marketplace consists of customers, prospects, lost-business contacts, former customers, competitors and (possibly) channel partners. The market research is conducted for these groups. Research Design also profiles the respondent base and the characteristics of all the individuals who will be solicited for the survey.
Care is taken so that respondents cannot understand from the on-line survey or the interviews who the sponsor is - you remain anonymous. Only when anonymity is guaranteed, will the data captured in the market research phase be true and trusted.
Three - Pricing Research and Sales Transaction Research
Pricing Research is where the value perceptions and drivers, decision drivers, the decision landscape, brand loyalty, price elasticity, satisfaction drivers, willingness to pay, is captured. It uses online surveys and personal interviews to gather data on-
- how your company is perceived in the marketplace
- how your competitors are perceived
- how various segments of the marketplace prioritize the problems your company solves and what they are willing to pay for solutions to these problems.
As the research is conducted anonymously and the research subjects never know for whom the research is conducted for, features and functions of the product or service, and your company, are abstracted into attributes and factors.
The research extends beyond a company’s contact list. It reaches out to the entire marketplace. So not only are your customers and prospects surveyed, but also individuals who may have had no prior contact (or knowledge of) your company.
Sales transaction research is an option, and sometimes a project consists solely of the transaction analysis. Transaction analysis is a careful examination of a company's sales transaction data in order to identify hidden factors that govern a company’s profitability. It enables the company to do more of what is highly profitable - and less of what is not. More than anything else, sales transaction research enables the executive to see anomalies, trends, error rates, and the specific issues that govern them. It enables the executive to ask questions, hear answers, and compare and evaluate the performance of individual sales people, sales organizations, business units, geographic areas, times-of-the-day, price points product lines, packaging options and such other discriminators as may exist.
Four - Analysis and Recommendations
Using data from our research, proprietary data models and statistical analysis, we are able to determine, with a high degree of accuracy, the perceived value of a service, product or a product line. We gain in-depth customer insights; how your customer and non-customer may differ in their valuation of you and competitors, in their decision drivers, decision landscape, loyalty, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, perceptions, preferences and wiliness to pay. We call this a Perception Audit.
The Perception Audit provides the hard data to support important decisions about the 4 P's of marketing: Place, Product, Promotion and Price. It is composed of findings, conclusions and recommendations. Findings are the truths about your marketplace, a clear, solid, science-based rendition of why customers buy from you, why they buy from your competitors, what would get them to switch, and what the levers are that control what they are willing to pay. Conclusions are what this means for you; what rational customer intelligence can be deducted from the findings. With conclusions, we are taking data and turning it into information. Recommendations are derived from our own business experience, best business practice, the findings and the conclusions, and, of course, the project objectives.
The Analysis uses standard tools of market research: the various flavors of conjoint analysis, the enhanced Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter, regression analysis, correlations, K-means cluster analysis and value attribute positioning. This methodology invokes multiple paths to the recommendations, ensuring that the result is as reliable and solid as possible.
Five - Presentation and Workshop
The Presentation and Workshop consist of a presentation of the results of the entire customer intelligence project plus an in-depth discussion of the practical actions that should be taken following the research. Also included is a comprehensive document that summarizes and leverages the market research and analysis.
Finalized in an interactive workshop with our client, recommendations may include staff or reseller support, information and training, marketing and product enhancements, policy changes, internal process or product or service enhancements, as well as pricing actions such as services, bundles, options, unbundles, segmentation models, content and sales processes.
Six - Implementation
Often we take our recommendations, the action plan developed in the workshop, and turn them into implementation services. Specifically, we support sales development with training and coaching for both sales people and sales management. We train sales people to increase closing rate, control the sales conversation and minimize discounting. We support sales management by providing tools that help manage their sales force more efficiently and better hold sales people accountable. For the benefit of both groups, we provide the most efficient sales messages derived from the market research and customer intelligence portion of the project.
We support marketing implementation by conducing marketing specific workshops to speed up the implementation of new or different marketing channels, messages and processes.