You must be able to correctly, objectively, and completely answer these questions. It doesn’t matter how you get the answers. Someone else can do the research. But it does matter where you get the answers. You get the answers from customers and potential customers.
*Why do customers buy your product?
*Why do some potential customers choose not to buy your product?
*Why does the customer buy the competitor’s product?
*What would it take you to get all of a customer’s business?
*What would it take competitors to get all of a customer’s business?
*Who is/are your customer’s best supplier(s) and why?
*Ask the customer, “If you were president of our company, what would you change and why?
These questions are often best asked by an objective third party. They are hard for the marketer to ask. If the customer answers frankly, the answers are sometimes hard to hear, if the marketer asks, customers can be reluctant to answer completely and truthfully. Do not depend on the sales force to give you unbiased answers. The sales force is with customers’ every day, but salespeople tend to talk to people who buy, and to people they like. The salesforce shies away from the tough non-buyer. The salesforce answers are understandably tilted.
If you want to know the answers, don’t run from bad news or knotty problems. Don’t fight the findings. Fix things. Give the customers more of what they like and less of what they don’t like.
Get the answers to these questions from the current customers at least once a year. Continually get the answers from new and potential customers.