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What are the best methods to analyze; Why do our customers buy from us?


Topic Expert
Dana Price
Title: Vice President, M&A
Company: McGraw Hill Education
(Vice President, M&A, McGraw Hill Education) |

Is your question asking what metrics to analyze or what tools to use? Asking them is the best way to analyze why they buy from you.

(Manager) |

Hi Dana,

I guess I suspect that just asking clients, although appealing in its simplicity and certainly valuable, may yield answers with an agenda... kind of like an unscientific poll.

For instance, would one really answer, "Because your prices are incredibly low" and risk creating a perception that leads to a price increase?

I was hoping for something a little more objective.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

There are four primary survey methods, that when used all together, can be revealing -

-focus groups - reason for potential purchase, you would ask a small sample size;
-post purchase - a set of current customers where you ask reason for purchase and perceived value of product or service;
-contacter - current customers where you attempt to understand perceived value of service provided post purchase; and,
-generic list (sample set with your customer profile) - attempt to understand the qualities that are important in the product or service you offer.

While the last method usually has the largest population, I believe it is the least reliable. I can ask what features potential customers want in a product, but their responses will change at different price points. There are ways to ask questions, that through analysis, can help you determine the optimal price to feature relationship, with a high probability.


Topic Expert
David Wittenberg
Title: Director of Financial Strategy
Company: World Vision
(Director of Financial Strategy , World Vision) |

When the stakes are high because you rely on a small number of big accounts, it's worth getting specialized skills to get the best quality information.

These folks:
- Have highly refined techniques for putting together the right questions that get to the heart of the issues.
- Get your customers to speak candidly. For example, they may not want to tell you your sales rep is rude or they are currently looking to replace you but will tell a third party working on your behalf (it shows your customer you take their business very seriously).
- Face the facts. When we receive negative feedback, our defenses tend to go up and we make excuses to ourselves or re-interpret the messages to soften the blow. Good specialists come back with blunt but constructive information you can act on to maintain and grow those relationships.

One really good one is Ann Amati at She works with B2B companies who have a smaller number of large customers (versus hundreds or thousands of small customers).

Doing this work right can save critical accounts can pay for itself many times over.


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