Listening to Customers
By Rob Meissner, TCV Growth Partner-
Recently, our company, TCV Growth Partners, decided to update our tagline. Each of our partners had ideas on what would constitute a great tagline. The first temptation was to have a vigorous debate among ourselves on the pros and cons of each one. Instead, we decided to practice what we preach and listen to our customers.
The first step was to better understand what our customers wanted to achieve when they engaged us. Basically, why had they selected TCV? Certainly, we knew what we had been contracted to do: serve as a company executive (CFO, CMO, COO) on a part-time or interim basis, write a business plan, position the company to raise funds, develop a sales strategy or strategic plan, etc. What we really needed to better understand was what motivated our customers to hire us. Then, we could craft a tag line that could connect with potential clients.
All of the founders of these early stage companies have great strengths in various aspects of their businesses. Yet all were stressed by working 60 plus hours a week, trying to do everything themselves. Some were focused on improving their work-life balance. Partnering with us, and our team of experienced executives, enabled them to confidently offload a specific function, knowing it was in good hands. Other customers talked about their frustration in not being able to focus enough on the aspect of their business where they added the most value. Bringing in specific expertise to focus on areas where they had either less of a background or less interest allowed them to focus on doing the things that would help them to grow their business faster. Further, our customers valued that we work as a team to bring the right expertise for their situation, that we roll up our sleeves as partners rather than as consultants, and that our pricing worked within their budgets.
Armed with this better understanding on what needs really motivated our customers, we developed a list of four options. We then tested these options with both customers and prospects. Importantly, we didn’t solicit their input through a simple survey to rank their choices. Rather, we engaged in a series of conversations with them to truly understand their reactions. Specifically, does a particular tag line speak to the pain points that they are experiencing and to the solution that we provide.
Through our discussions with our customers we heard that any of the four choices that we had developed would have worked.They all communicated the overall message that we wanted to convey and were perceived positively.Yet, two of the choices just fell flat.One was viewed as too long and the other viewed as too generic. The two that rose to the top had different attributes. One was viewed as more creative, and more attention grabbing. The other was viewed as more precisely articulating our value proposition. Its not that our customers’ input made the decision for us. Rather, their input helped us to clarify the choice we that were making. Ultimately, we chose to go forward with:
You Wear the Hats that Fit, We Wear the Rest
When you have major decisions to make, you would be well served by listening to your customers. It’s often not the most efficient way to do things. It takes time to go through the process. Ultimately, though, I think it led us to a better decision and I think it will lead you to make better decisions as well. Are you trying to wear too many hats? TCV Growth Partners provides supplemental executive resources to help you where you need it, when you need it.
Contact Rob Meissner for more information - Rob@techcomventures.com