Customer Value Questions for Growing Your Business

During my years in corporate America, speaking with many colleagues and clients, I came to see that the most successful businesses are the ones that provide customers with the most value over the long term.

That might sound obvious, but what’s less obvious is how they go about providing that long-term value.

They do it with one simple tactic.

What would you say it is?

“Spending lavishly on marketing.” Nope.

“A large sales team.” Nope.

“Taking risks.” Nope.

It’s…asking good questions. (And by good, I’m implying that the questions are also relevant and actionable.)

Their questions, being good, are all focused on value. Webster defines value as “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged.” Without adding more and more value to the customers they’re meant to be serving, businesses go out of business.

I believe there are three distinct stages of value-ation in organizations: Discovery, Development & Pricing, and Marketing & Selling. And each stage has unique questions that build on the results of the previous questions.

Stage 1: Discover the value you provide to customers

  • What value do we think we provide to customers (naive assessment)?
  • How do we probably provide value to customers (realistic assessment)?
  • How do we actually provide value to customers (actionable assessment)?

Stage 2: Develop & price the value you provide to customers

  • What have customers taught us about the value we provide (differentiation)?
  • What added value can we provide to customers, and at what price (product/service development)?
  • How can we institutionalize what customers have taught us about the value we provide (operational pivots)?

Stage 3: Market & sell the value you provide to customers

  • How do we market and sell the unique value we provide (marketing and sales)?
  • How can we continue to learn from our customers about their changing perceptions of what’s valuable to them (customer listening posts)?
  • How can we get timely help and advice as we grow into a customer-focused (that is, value-focused) company (leadership coaching)?

Obviously there’s a lot to unpack in each of these questions, but I firmly believe that the most successful companies have mastered the art of action-inducing introspection. And that introspection and action begin by asking the right questions. You can’t hit the target if you don’t know in which direction to aim to arrow.

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