What the double-glazing salesman taught me about how to waste an opportunity…

Organisations that ignore the information available to them are missing a trick

Figure of salesmanIt was around 12:30 on a Monday afternoon when I heard someone knock on the door.  I was working from home, and had my head deep into some consulting work so to be honest I welcomed the distraction.   Well, at least that’s what I thought until I opened the door to find a door-to-door double-glazed window salesman at my door.  I suddenly wished I hadn’t answered the door, but hey, I’ll give him a chance I thought.

 

Without giving me a chance to speak, he immediately launched into his pre-prepared, standard sales pitch.  In fact, he started by explaining how he “just wanted to catch up” and let me know what was going on in the area  (yeah, right!).  When I explained I wasn’t interested in buying new windows, he kept talking.  When I again, stressed to him that I am not going to buy from him, he kept talking.  In fact, as I closed the door, I could still hear him talking.  He might still be there now, talking to my front door, for all I know.

 

Ok, so this is clearly a rather “old-school” example of door-to-door hard-selling, but it got me thinking. As a consumer today, I expect relevant and targeted offers.  I bet you’re the same – there’s nothing more frustrating than a bank ringing and trying to sell you life insurance again when you’ve already told them that you get it free as part of your employee benefits package.   This is nearly as annoying as a double-glazing window salesman knocking on the door of a fully double-glazed house and trying to make a sale.  Ignoring information that is already available is a recipe to disappoint and waste the time of potential future customers.

 

I’m certainly no salesman, but a scattergun approach to selling just doesn’t wash with me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  There are so many marketing channels, so many campaigns, organisations that follow the crowd risk getting lost in the noise.  Playing a numbers game and just “hoping that you’ll strike it lucky” doesn’t sound like a good strategy.

 

As I was mulling this over, it struck me that one key differentiating factor is how organisations are using data to drive actionable customer insight.   With better insight and actionable data, good organisations can anticipate customer demand.  And this isn’t just down how they are using data, but also how they are collecting and analysing that data.  After all, to generate useful insight, you have to capture the data consistently in the first place!

 

So what does this mean for business analysts and for projects? 

 

Clearly it’s important for businesses of all sizes, including smaller and mid-size firms, to maximise opportunities and to create awareness of products.  It’s crucial that the underlying business processes collect data that might anticipate a customer need.  By translating data to insight, we understand our customers better and are able to offer targeted offers and products.  It’s not enough to merely focus on generic opportunities to cross-sell (“do you want fries with that?”) and up-sell (“would you like to go large?”).   Customers want to feel heard, and this requires that at the very least that an organisation’s automated systems should acknowledge the information that customers have already disclosed.  When processes are being re-engineered or when systems are being changed, these factors should be considered.

 

Organisations need to adapt to survive.  There’s (quite rightly) a focus on creating insight from all manner of data sources.  Just don’t forget to actually capture what the customer tells you.  As organisations grow, it’s easy for this insight to get lost in a plethora of legacy systems.  Work hard to avoid this… otherwise you might find yourself standing outside an uninterested customer’s house, talking to their front door…

 

I hope you’ve found this blog post interesting.  How do you ensure that your organisation captures & takes action on the right data?  How do you integrate this into your projects?  I’d love to hear from you, please add a comment below, and if you like my blog please subscribe.

 


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions

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2 thoughts on “What the double-glazing salesman taught me about how to waste an opportunity…”

  1. Great article, Adrian! It’s amazing how many surrounding things can actually affect our work. I agree that the most important thing that the business analyst should do is to listen and hear what our customers want and sometimes even guess their desires. It is a challenging but inalienable part of the successful product development in any industry. Thanks for bringing this up!

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. You are absolutely right, asking the right questions of our stakeholders is crucial. Part of the art is determining what business stakeholders need (rather than what they state they *want*, which might be something completely different).

      In addition, we need to ensure that the ‘voice of the customer’ (i.e. the voice of the *actual* end customer who uses the system/process that we’re impacting) is considered. This might be through an internal champion, or maybe even a focus group. It’s a tricky balance!

      Thanks again for your comment!
      Adrian.

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