I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
We are often asked to help distinguish our clients from their competition. Sometimes they say they are losing deals and that no one knows who they are. One client actually told us he'd noticed some employees invoking the name of their chief competitor when asked to describe what their company does. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> These are just some of the symptoms of what could be called a corporate identity crisis. We understand how this can happen. Companies are so busy "doing what they do," they lose objective focus about how they are perceived. Often senior leaders are removed from direct client interaction and are unclear as to how well they are fulfilling their clients needs, how their employees represent the company, and if they are living up to the promise they are making in the marketplace.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Senior leaders can walk down the halls and ask their people how their company is perceived. But is an internal perspective the best guide for how the outside world views your company? We have found, time and time again, there is a tremendously valuable, untapped resource to help you learn some of the best insights about your company: your clients. So why not ask what they think? <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Below we offer three key reasons why doing so can add a whole new perspective to your business.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>Unfiltered external perceptions.</b> There is no richer a resource for how your company is perceived than asking your clients how you are doing. As a best practice, the most valuable and honest insights are obtained when companies ask an unbiased third party to seek these answers. It's human nature to withhold the unvarnished truth when asked by the company who is the topic of the conversation. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> This is why internal "win/loss" analyses don't typically yield actionable or insightful findings. Instead, insist a third party asks your clients targeted questions in confidence so that they will be candid, and thus will feel comfortable to reveal some eye-opening insights.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>Unexpected goodwill.</b> Companies don't realize the goodwill value they receive when asking their most valued audience for their opinion, perspective, and ideas. This process can strengthen relationships, because people asked to participate appreciate they are valued by the company and their opinions matter. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Even though we are all very busy, it's amazing the time people will find to share their feedback. They also perceive the company to be a more enlightened and open-minded in seeking information to learn and grow. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>A treasure trove of ideas.</b> By asking insightful questions, we have found companies get rich, thoughtful answers that can inspire innovative changes to their organization. Clients typically have a wide range of experiences working with other providers, so this knowledge can provide a valuable reservoir of ideas enhancing current relationships. The collective insights gathered through a process like this often lead to new initiatives, with the potential to transform a business.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> By tapping key external audiences—clients, partners, and influencers—you will find a rich resource of people with fresh perspectives, sage guidance, and constructive feedback, all of whom can have a profound affect on the future trajectory of your company.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <i>Brenna Garratt is CEO of The Delve Group. Contact her by e-mail at <a href="email:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.</i>