Archives for posts with tag: Feedback

I meant to call my wife the other day, but ended up calling the next name down my favourites list, my youngest brother. His 8-year old son answered the phone. The call went like this:

  • Hello?
  • Oh…[nephew’s name], is that you?
  • Yes, who is this?
  • It’s your uncle Paul, sorry, I called you by mistake..
  • Do you want to speak to my Dad?

Kids are great, aren’t they? They have no filter. You always know where you stand with them.

As we get older we develop layers of self-consciousness and diplomacy. Consequently, we have to peel back layers with adults to get to what they really mean. Sometimes this can present a challenge with sales and marketing, especially when we’re looking for feedback or indication from a customer about what they really think of our product, service or company.

The number of layers each adult has depends on their own unique filter setting. As you probably know, some adults have a low filter setting, blurting out exactly what they think in an uncontrolled fashion, or else telling you exactly what they think because that leaves no room for ambiguity. I much prefer this, as honesty is true feedback, as long as they don’t express it in a needlessly nasty way.

Many adults on the other hand, and this varies culturally, have a high filter and our job is then to try and get to what they really mean, by probing and asking essentially the same question in a different way.

The Win/loss analysis is a really important part of business. That said, when people think about win/loss analysis, they generally mean loss analysis.

Calling up the customer, asking how did we lose out, what could we have done better, who got ahead of us. This is all valuable information for introducing back into the mix so that we can improve.

Not many companies actually do win/loss analysis, which is a glaring omission in strategy and sales process. The funny thing is, and this even worse, people hardly ever do the win analysis call or meeting. Why did we win? Why did you give us the business? Where could we have improved? These are vitally important questions, and the answers to them are even more important.

I did a short, 20-minute win analysis call with a customer the other day. He said, ‘I’ve been doing this job 9 years, and I handle around 30 tenders a year. This is only the 3rd time someone’s done a win analysis debrief with me.’ So that’s 1 win analysis call every 90 tenders, a fraction over 1%.

The win analysis call is the simplest, most obvious sales call that no-one hardly ever does. I’m in a generous mood, here’s another one: going back to a recent new customer and asking them for 1 to 3 more non-competing sales leads.

This is obvious, right?

If you’re in an industry where you’re creating, writing or building something yourself, and it’s pretty much a lone pursuit, then you can be super productive and get through a lot. No interruptions, no challenges of collaboration around communication, preferences, priorities and preferred ways of working.

Then again, there’s one thing that will benefit your output.

Another view.

No matter how good you think something else is, it will always benefit from another view. If it’s someone whom you respect and whose opinion and experience you value, then they’re bound to bring up something you hadn’t considered. It’s someone whose opinion you don’t respect, then it’s still valuable. You can choose to ignore it.

Of course, this works well when you’re showing something in a fairly developed stage and your second opinion is not having to make too much of a logical or creative leap to see where you’re going with it.

The view of another gives you a different perspective on what you’re trying to do. And getting your head away from your own perspective and towards the perspective of your customer, client, audience or dearly beloved is always a good thing.

It’s important to be able to receive constructive feedback. If you value other people’s opinion that is. If it’s destructive criticism, or you don’t respect the opinion of the person who’s volunteering it, why bother listening to it?

Staying with constructive feedback, the really important thing is to make a decision on that feedback. Do they make a valid point? Is incorporating their feedback going to improve what you’re doing? If it is, great, you have a better product or service.

If it isn’t, then damn the critics and go. Have the courage of your convictions. You’ll either win or your learn from your loss.

And, sustaining you on your journey are stories like the Beatles, whom record company Decca turned down, or Fred Astaire, who was told ‘can’t act, can’t sing, can dance a little,’ or JK Rowling, turned down by innumerable publishers and now the first female billionaire author.

Yes, damning the critics and doing it anyway. Feels good, doesn’t it?

There used to be a saying from parent to child that got adopted by business:

‘Don’t pull up the plant every 5 minutes to see if the roots have grown.’

The implication was that you needed to give things time to bed down, to settle. Give them a chance, then monitor, measure and adjust if necessary.

That’s really not valid any more. In the digital era you can tell in 5 minutes if something’s working, or not working, especially if you’re in the volume business. You can check the roots as often as you like. You can tweak something, see if it works, and tweak it again, ad infinitum.

You’re in constant tweak mode, like when you’re driving, making many¬†micro-corrections on the straight, large adjustments to overtake or big turns at a bend or junction.

Pull up those plants immediately. Test early and test often.