Businesses tend to perceive market research as a “one and done” part of the process in the early stages of a project, campaign launch or overall business rebrand - limited to an output of data that will be used to inform development and sales teams of who their target audience is and what messages they want to hear. While this information is clearly important, the methods used in early market research can also be utilized by sales teams to increase renewals and upsells on an ongoing basis from existing clients. With the support of internal research teams or supplier-side consultants, sales teams can employ research techniques that will not only provide the insights necessary to increase overall revenue, but also improve the relationship between the company and their clients or customers.
Collecting data from clients is commonly done using surveys and interviews but could also involve sitting in on internal client meetings (if allowed) to make observations. The result of this consumer-focused research leaves you with the data necessary to optimize performance as a company and your client with the feeling of being heard and appreciated by you.
- Surveys: The quickest and easiest way to collect data from your clients is to send them a survey. This can be done after an engagement to gain feedback on performance but can also be done outside of specific projects to ask how your company is performing as a strategic partner. And you shouldn’t be afraid to dig deep. It is one thing to perform well on an operational level, but are you seen as supporting them at the strategic level as well? Do they feel like you’re a part of their team or only a vendor?
- Interviews: Qualitative interviews are another great way to engage with your clients. While these can be done internally, it is oftentimes better to have an outside research firm speak to them as a third party. It can be hard for people to be honest and open about negative experiences if they’re talking to a representative from your company, especially if they are speaking to their personal sales representative. Interviews will give a more nuanced perspective, and potentially uncover issues, or some things you’re doing well, that you would not have thought to ask in a survey. Conducting interviews as a follow-up to a survey (or sometimes to inform a survey) can give you a holistic look at your relationship with your clients. They can also establish a closer bond, as their thoughts are literally being heard!
- Observing: If a client allows, sitting in on their meetings is a great way to see how their internal team interacts and can give perspective on not only their approach to a problem, but also the issues they’re dealing with most often. Is there an area where you can jump in and give them help? Perhaps even your continued involvement in meetings can be of assistance to them and make them see you as an extension of their team instead of only providing a service.
While these research methods will provide you with important feedback, it’s the engagement with clients that has the potential to really make an impact. However, to truly feel heard, your clients want to see that you’ve taken their feedback and put steps in place to improve their overall customer satisfaction. Engagement with clients will only get you so far if you don’t act on what they tell you. Collaborating with your in-house research team or enlisting the help of a supplier-side research partner to help analyze the data, identify key takeaways, and build an action plan to make improvements is where successful businesses really win.
If you’re looking to help your sales and account management teams get closer to your customers, please reach out to Vennli for information on how we can help. We have years of experience helping our client partners build deeper relationships with their customers and increasing revenue. We look forward to speaking with you!