Why Great Companies Survey: Martian Logic!

By: Harald Anderson

If an alien civilization from Mars was planning a friendly takeover of our planet they would seek to make sure they understood our way of life and our way of thought.

The only way they could accomplish their objective would be by asking questions which they could genuinely understand and then plan a strategy accordingly. Although this idea may seem outlandish, in my humble opinion, it is also what separates the great companies on our planet from the Wannabe’s.

The greatest RISK in marketing lies in dealing with OPINION instead of fact. Stated another way, risk and the threat of loss is rooted in the idea that you think you already know the answer.

In my 25+ years in sales and marketing I have learned one very powerful truth that distinguishes the superstars from the amateurs. The great salespeople and marketers understand the power that lays within questions. The amateurs think they know all of the answers. Show me a great salesperson and I will show you an individual who knows and understand the power of questions. Show me a poor salesperson and I will show you an individual who has yet to understand that fact. Show me a great company and I will hypothesize that they have an incredible dialogue established with their customers.

How about you? Do you feel you know the answers to your customers most pressing problems, or are you genuinely in communication with them and listening to what they say?

I have seen salespeople blossom into superstars when they learned to ask questions. Likewise, I have seen companies turn from run of the mill endeavors to powerful marketing machines when they too learned to harvest the information from the questions which they ask. Questions are the only tools that permit us to genuinely understand problems our customers have. Questions are also the vehicles we use to establish our focus to resolve those problems. Stated another way, questions are a goldmine of valuable market information. The answers to the questions within surveys provide a roadmap for fulfilling our customers most pressing needs and desires.

We have a huge investment in what we have come to know. However, what we have come to know often has nothing to do with what we need to know to be successful. This is one of the key reasons why surveying of our customers is so important. A good survey will eliminate opinion and establish some factual evidence. Also, we are often so indoctrinated with what we think we know that we cannot see what “is" occurring. This is the main reason we survey.

There have been thousands and thousands of books written on the importance of surveying. I will attempt to summarize the best ones here with a one simple acronym which I created.

S – Successfully


U – Understanding


R – Relevant


V – Values


E – Enhances


Y – Yield

A survey gives us the opportunity to understand and take that understanding and apply it to creating a higher return on our investment. When we successfully understand our customers relevant values we can then create the solutions that will permit us to enhance our yield. A good survey allows us to be in communication with our marketplace.

The great companies have learned that customers will not tell you how you are doing unless you ask them. Asking your customers about what they like and want offers the best information to learn from mistakes and cultivate unique opportunities.

Great companies survey. Wannabes think they already know. Want to succeed in a big way, all you have to do is ASK... then shut up long enough to recognize that the answer that is coming at you has 'GOLDMINE' written all over it!

Be careful what you agree with!

Copyright 2004 Harald Anderson

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