Whether I’m doing customer research for a health information exchange, telehealth company, or a rev cycle specialist, the trickiest part is helping people think like their customers. A significant part of voice-of-customer research is speaking with sales teams and C-suite executives. These people usually have tons of valuable information about their customers – but it’s stuck inside their head. My role is to draw this information out and make it accessible to the entire team. So, to get them to switch their perspective and put themselves in their customers’ shoes, here are the three things I ask them to do.

Watch for assumptions.

Just because an issue is the biggest thing on your radar as a salesperson does not mean it’s even floated through the mind of your customer. You want, as best you can, to think like they do. Even if they see it your way once you explain it, it’s important to talk about their thought process before you explained it. That slight difference will tell you a lot about how to approach future prospects; in fact, it is often the kernel that will build your most successful campaigns.

Stop selling.

One of the most common patterns I find when conducting voice-of-customer interviews with sales folks is that – no surprise – they start selling. Even when they are not selling to me, they are still, in their minds, selling their customer as they talk to me. It’s just the nature of being in sales. To get the best information out of them, you need to get to the question they are addressing in their pitch. Sales people don’t say things for no reason – they are constantly trying to address a concern or a question. So, always pause to figure out what that concern or question is – because that’s the jewel your marketing team is looking for.

Focus on hesitation points.

One way to sidestep your assumptions and stop selling is to focus on your customer’s hesitations. To draw out your knowledge of their mindset, think of their objections. Consider the moments where they pull back. These are indicators of the way they view their situation – and it’s exactly the information that will be helpful to your marketing team.

Think like your customer.

Voice-of-customer research obviously involves speaking directly with the customer. But it also involves a lot of background research, such as interviewing a founder or sales team. When conducting these types of interviews, use these pointers to get your team thinking like your customers.

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