Voice to Market: Listen and Be Brave
Friday, May 18, 2007
Have you ever had a 360 review, in which your boss, co-workers, and direct reports all answer detailed questions about you and your job performance? I came across an old report on a 360 review as I was updating some files the other day, and if you haven’t had one, take it from me that it requires quite a bit of courage to undergo.
The experience of getting that review certainly had its tough moments, but what I learned about how I was perceived influenced my future work profoundly. From the feedback in that review, I gained the resolve to step up and offer more ideas. I learned to stop worrying about much of what had plagued me, and I stopped putting energy toward activities that no one seemed to care much about. I don’t think the promotion and greater responsibilities that followed before too long were a coincidence – I performed better because of my newfound understanding of how others saw the value I could bring to the team. Most powerful was the chance to see all the commonalities and contradictions, which combined to create a clear outline of changes I could make. But I had to be brave enough to really listen and learn.
I thought of this experience today during a meeting about a client’s success with our Voice to Market approach, the company-level equivalent of a 360 review. The client had used the insights to revamp major elements of its go-to-market strategy, with incredible results so far and more in the works. By learning where internal perceptions didn’t match how customers thought of the company and its products, the marketing team could figure out just how to change its messages and positioning and how to support the sales force with pinpoint precision.
What do you know of how you are seen by your customers, influencers, salespeople, marketers, and potential buyers? Have you asked them lately what they think of the value your company delivers, and how they want you to improve? Do you know how they view the market you operate in? What their buying behaviors are?
You may think you know what value the company delivers and how it’s perceived, because you’ve done market research and customer surveys. But think of market research as akin to a performance review – it’s one valuable view, but it’s no 360. Only when you get a multitude of perspectives do you have all the insight you need to take powerful action. And that requires gumption, because what you learn can challenge long-held assumptions and force you to make some changes that don’t feel comfortable at first. But the results are likely to be worth it. Go ahead, be brave.
Whitney Wood, Senior Consultant