The Benefits of B2B Voice of Audience Research
Is your company betting on random anecdotal feedback to make big decisions? When done right, voice of audience research provides the solid foundation needed to make better strategic decisions and gain a competitive advantage.
James Dorn: I got to say, distributors are tired of hearing about all the threats that are facing their business.
You know, the folks I talk to, John, they are just saying, “Listen, I understand all the things that are threatening our business, what I don’t understand as clearly is how do I start to move forward in building new ideas and new strategies?” And what we advocate is start with really good data. And the data that we’re talking about here is more of what we call voice of audience research. And what this will help a distributor do is get information back into their organization to their leadership team. So you get information directly from suppliers, directly from your customers and directly from your associates, and you use this information to say, “Okay, we’re not going to rely as heavily upon anecdotal input that we might get from one or two customers, or from even the sales team per se.” You go out and you source this information and you use it as a really strong foundation for building ideas and strategies for moving forward. So voice of audience research, John, break it down for us.
John Gunderson: James, I love the way you put that, distributors are tired of hearing about all the threats. If you can build a foundation of research, you can really go out and take share and really grow your business. The fundamentals of distribution have not changed, there’s still a tremendous market out there. And as you said, understanding what you can do or what you should do, it starts with the end customer.
So starting with great voice-of-customer research to understand why they buy from you, what they value, what other differentiators is key, at the same time, you need to ask your associates, “Why do our customers buy from us?” What do you think they value?
You do the same thing for the suppliers that support you. Why do customers buy from us? What do you think they value? And every time we do this for companies, we find gaps where the customer values one thing and the associates say they value this, and the suppliers say they value this. That’s how you can get caught in anecdotal feedback that you make bad decisions on.
I can tell you as a distributor leader, we made some big decisions based on feedback from one customer. Not every one of those worked out. We’d have been better off understanding from a thousand customers what they want, to make the bets on our business that we made.
James Dorn: Yeah, John, I love the way you illustrated that point with the gap between, you know, what a customer was looking for versus what an associate actually thought they might be looking for.
And I think the way I see this, John, is you got your sources of information, you know, voice of customer, overlaid with voice of associate, overlaid with voice of supplier. And when you start to overlay those sources of information, especially in different ways, you do, these gaps, they start immediately appearing, right? So like the one you illustrated. But I think once you start overlaying it, you also get these synthesized insights that act as your core strategies moving forward, or key insights that will influence your core strategy moving forward. And I think that’s a really powerful way to aggregate you know, a lot of different inputs into some really powerful insights.
John Gunderson: Yeah. I agree, James. I think you put it really good, that spot in the middle where you can synthesize all the insights is where you have the breakthrough. For example, like a lot of the surveys and work we do, we sometimes I would say, let’s be real. Oftentimes we find that the supplier and the distributor overvalue their outside sales team more than the end customer does. And the end customer values digital interactions.
“I want to be able to download my spec sheets, I want to be able to check my invoices.” More than the distributors and suppliers think they do. That’s where you can really say, “Okay how do I redeploy my resources and what do I need to develop in my tech stack to meet the new modern customer?”
Because if you make it easy for ’em, and you make it easier for them to buy the way they want to buy from you versus a distributor down the street who’s still doing it the old way. You’re going to win more often.
James Dorn: Yeah. Love it John.
So, net net, for the distributors out there who are, you know, considering making changes to their business, and looking to remain more competitive moving forward.
One great place to start is by doing voice of audience research. Get some input directly from your customers, your suppliers, and your associates, and overlay that data in different ways. Capture some insights and use those insights to get your entire team on the same page with how you’re going to move forward and win into tomorrow’s marketplace.
John Gunderson: Well said, James.