Creating a successful voice of the buyer program
The English writer Samuel Johnson famously said, “Bias and impartiality is in the eye of the beholder.” Sometimes it is easy to see the bias in others but are blind to our own. When creating a voice-of-the-buyer program, it is easy to let our own biases and expectations dictate its direction. But in doing so, you can derail a program’s effectiveness even before it starts.
The more impartial your program is from the beginning, the better chance you have in creating real, effective, and accurate insights that will drive business success.
Guidelines for a successful voice of the buyer program
Here are some guidelines to help you eliminate bias from your program so that you generate the accurate insights for your company.
1. Eliminate your own personal bias.
One VP of Marketing remarked that initially the primary intention of his program was to, in his words, “Prove that sales was wrong.” He perpetuated the most common bias from a marketing perspective that it was always sales that messed up the messaging the marketing department created.
He learned the hard way that attempting to direct the end result immediately doomed the program. You cannot enter the program with a prepared hypothesis. You must trust the data as it comes in and analyze it with fresh eyes.
In fact, it is helpful to use the program to help reject your initial bias; try to prove yourself wrong. Then, if the results determine that your initial view was correct, you know that it is backed by the data and not by your bias.
2. Involve everyone in the process.
Too often, someone creates a voice-of-the-buyer program without informing anyone else. For instance, product marketing wants information on how their messaging is affecting buyers, but they don’t inform or involve sales or executive leadership. Not only does this make it difficult to get access to buyers, but any information that is gathered ends up siloed within that department and usually ends up forgotten and unused.
Companies that involve all departments in the program see two dramatic improvements: more participation to create a successful program and more use of the data once it’s gathered. Frequent collaboration during the program promotes mutual support, proper direction, and ease of sharing.
It is especially important to freely share program insights throughout the company. Our clients who have previously withheld information have been amazed at the outpouring of support for the program and effective change in behaviors once they opened it to everyone.
3. Attain executive sponsorship.
Executives have insights into the company direction, and the pain points they experience, that you may not realize. Offering to solve these executive pain points accelerates their desire to continue and expand the program.
Additionally, starting with the knowledge of these pain points at the beginning of the voice-of-the-buyer program helps you tailor questions that bring direct insights to solve them.
Involve corporate-level executives early and often in order to guarantee success.
4. Always involve the sales department…and make it educational, not punitive.
No other organization can hamper a voice-of-the-buyer program the way sales can. If you do not educate and inform them from the beginning, they can view a program as “internal affairs.” Weaponizing evidence as a method of reprimanding performance is a guaranteed way to kill a program.
Companies that educate the sales team, then follow up with behavior that reinforces a learning environment, see a dramatic improvement in sales involvement and sponsorship.
Many successful programs that faced initial push-back from the sales team proposed to first evaluate only “won” deals to evaluate for best practices. As sales teams will be open to hearing the positive results from wins, this opens the door to show them the insights that can be generated from a voice-of-the-buyer program. Once they see the value from their wins, invariably they begin to request feedback from their losses.
5. Evaluate all deals.
Many companies attempt to cherry-pick deals they want evaluated. This is usually due to two concerns: the cost of getting feedback on all deals, and the quality of feedback they expect to receive.
Primary Intelligence has solved the issue of getting feedback on all deals by automating the research process. Our automated system manages initial outreach and survey management, eliminating constant man-hours to manage or operate the program.
By automating the outreach and survey process, all buyers can be approached, which dramatically improves the volume of responses. Once these responses are in, it is then easier to handpick specific buyers to interview further for more qualitative responses.
Voice of the buyer success
The more unbiased data you receive, the more impactful and accurate that data is. Start with these steps and you will find more participation within and without your company, leading to actionable and effective insights that are placed in the hands of those who can put them to use for better company success.
For more information about Primary Intelligence’s automated voice-of-the-buyer programs, contact us at [email protected] or call 800.400.2174