Once you’re on the VOC path, how easy or hard is it to get appointments with your customers or prospects to discuss their unmet needs? If the account knows you, trusts you and meets with you regularly, then it’s easy. But what if you’re not as close to the customer or you’re targeting an unfamiliar market? And you’re asking for their valuable time? It gets harder, but not impossible. Here are a few tips, based on experience, we know will vastly improve the probability of success:
If they wonder what you’re up to —
Admit that, in the past, you haven’t always listened to customer needs as much as you should have…but now you are.
If they wonder why you’re doing this now —
Explain you’re beginning a new R&D initiative that could involve new exciting technologies.
If they wonder why you’re calling them —
Let the customer know you consider them to be an industry standout and how much you value their expert insight.
If they think it sounds like a typical meeting —
Make sure to mention you’re bringing one of your own top scientists with you.
If they claim to have their own innovation people —
Remind them that suppliers (like you) are an excellent source of open innovation, saving them time and money, and injecting new ideas into their system.
If they ask for one-on-one development —
Mention the size and scope of the R&D project will only be possible with an industry-wide solution.
If they ask for a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) —
Be sure to tell them that in this first meeting, you only plan to discuss their desired outcomes (their end goals), not the solutions for reaching those goals.
If they balk at taking “supplier surveys” —
Explain there will be no selling, no typical survey questions…just a meeting to listen to what they believe are the priority issues.
If they say they don’t have time to prepare —
Say “that’s fine – there’s no preparation needed for this meeting at all – we’ll do all the facilitation – all you need to do is show up.”
If they want to “think about it first” —
Offer to send them our Discovery Interview agenda and send a link to our special website designed to answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Blueprinting clients, please ask your AIM coach about these tools
- Those considering Blueprinting, please contact Dave Loomis for more information on these and other valuable resources.