A lot of people I present my findings to express amazement at the types of things consumers (end users, employees and channel partners) tell me during the course of an interview. In fact, one SVP of sales who had been in his role for 20 years stopped me in the middle of my presentation to explain, “how did you get them to tell you about that, I’ve never heard that from any of my agents?”
I attribute it to going into every interview with a “fresh eyes” perspective. No matter how many interviews I’ve conducted, I try to go into my next interview knowing nothing. No preconceived notions, no knowledge of the industry, I need the respondent to help me understand — the industry, what they’re talking about, why they do what they do, what’s driving their perceptions of the product, service or competition.
Once the respondent knows I’m not very knowledgeable about the subject and I’m really there to get their input and listen to what they have to say, they open up and tell me things they may not tell someone who’s been in the industry for 20 years because they assume that industry veteran already knows it. After we develop a rapport, the respondent wants to help me understand their industry, their perspective and why they feel the way they do.
More often than not, this “fresh eyes” perspective leads to insights for me and my client. Frequently these insights are common sense, or fundamentals, but no one has verbalized or documented them.
I spoke to one insurance agent who never met with his prospects in their living room. He wanted to meet at the kitchen table with both the husband and wife facing him so he could see both of their reactions to what he was saying. I’m pretty sure my insurance client is now using that as a training point for all of his agents.
I also find that going into an interview with a “fresh eyes” perspective enables me to ask more incisive follow-up questions that deliver a depth of insights that online surveys just do not deliver. A frequent follow-up is, “help me understand why you say . . .” With online surveys, I find opened ended questions just do not deliver the depth of information that leads to great insights.
How do you get consumers, employees, suppliers or channel partners to open up to you?