Find Your Competitor’s Achilles Heel: Post-Sale Questions for Customers

By Sean Campbell Competitors’ customers are treasure troves of insight. Not only can they tell you how satisfied they are with the competitor’s product or service, they can also clue you in about why they picked the competitor in the first place. In other words, you may learn why you missed out and how to have the winning solution the next time around.  The following questions are designed to ask customers who have used your competitor’s products for some time to bring insight to:
  • How the customer came to the competitor
  • How satisfied they are with the competitor’s solution
  • Whether and when they may look elsewhere
How often was the user or organization engaged with after the initial sign-up? The answer lets you know if the competing company was high-touch. It can also reveal whether the customer felt they were engaged with as much as they expected. Was the transition from sales to implementation smooth? Some of your competitors will be very good at selling and not so good at implementing. This is a potential win-back opportunity for your company.  Did the implementation go well? What were the pain points? What went smoother than expected? Again, this can highlight whether your competition is good at selling but not so good at implementing. Now that the product has been in use for some time, which features are used more than expected and which are used less than expected? The features the customer is enamored with may not be the ones that you expect. Dig into this question to figure out which features drove customer engagement and which features grabbed and held the customer’s attention after deployment. Did third parties influence the customer’s decision to go with the competitor? Were partners involved while the application was deployed and integrations between the new product and existing solutions were established? How fundamental were those partners to the successful deployment of your competitor’s product? How was education handled for the product or service? Buying is one thing, but having a product or service that you can learn well enough to use in a real-world setting is another. How much support did the competitor offer? What type of support did the competitor provide? Was it predominantly focused on community support or were paid support vehicles available? This can help you decide what types of support assets you need to invest in. Which type of support did the customer utilize the most? Which type of support did the customer find most useful?  You may realize you should consider webinars, how-to style content, reference architecture guides or something completely different. Was the customer satisfied with the mechanism of payment? Did the customer feel they were paying for the product in the way they wanted to? Were they forced to sign a yearly agreement when they would have preferred a monthly agreement? Also, were there certain pricing tiers that they didn’t agree with? And were there areas where they wished more options were available? Did the actual cost of the solution measure up with expectations? Ask whether the solution began to cost the organization more and more over time. This could happen due to increasing support costs, challenges integrating the new purchase with existing systems, or even the cost of educating users on how to use the new product or service effectively. Does the customer foresee a time where they will outgrow the solution now that they’ve had it in production? What could cause the company to outgrow the solution? The answer could help you predict a win-back opportunity. Even if you lost that company as a potential customer, you might have the opportunity to win them back months or years down the road. Factors such as vertical, company size, number of users, etc. could be indicators that it’s time to get your customer back. Obviously, having that knowledge of your competitor gives you an edge. Answers to any of these questions will generate insight in your next research study, so go out and ask them Sean Campbell is the CEO of Cascade Insights, a competitive intelligence and market research firm for B2B technology companies. A 20-year technology veteran, Sean establishes the company’s strategy, drives thought leadership efforts and maintains relationships with key clients. A popular speaker, Sean has covered market research and competitive intelligence best practices at over 250 events around the globe. He is the author of three books and the eBook, Going Beyond Google, now in its 6th edition. He hosts the popular B2B Market Research podcast, which focuses on methodology, B2B tech, and interviews with thought leaders.

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