Expert's Panel

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    Customers lie about their needs and wants. How do you sift through the BS to get to the truth?

  1. First off, be aware that customers never buy WANTS, they buy needs and you have to differentiate between the two. I would strongly encourage you to make sure you have a large enough sample. I have found over the years that with market research you can come to the right conclusion if you have enough companies and people in your survey, despite the BS from some.
  2. When you talk about needs and wants the magic word is "WHY." Ask, "What will that do for you and why is it important?" and you will get to the right answer as to what is needed.
  3. I have three other comments. First, think about a third party to do your research, because the customer is less likely to lie to someone who is not part of the supplierís organization. Second, rather than interview the customer directly, interview recent employees who are no longer there, usually having left within six months. There is no incentive anymore for them to lie to you as a vendor. The third is your field service force. They can usually get direct, honest information since they are not viewed as sales. They are usually even better than a third party. The FSE is working on the third shift talking directly with the customerís engineer who knows what is going to happen in the next few months and what they are going to need. Train your field service people how to ask the right questions, at the right time. Give them training on techniques so it doesnít look so obvious. They will often come back with a different set of data that is more accurate than you got directly from the VP of engineering. I know The Quest Team has trained teams to do this successfully with a number of industry companies.
  4. I get quite a bit of my information from competitors and general networking.