Our company has a standard procedure: After new customers are closed, ourassistants call them. They explain that part of our ongoing total qualityprogram is to call our new customers to learn more about why they bought. Wedecided to have the assistants make these calls rather than the salespeoplebecause we felt the customers wouldn't be as honest--they know the salespeopletoo well at that point.

When our company calls, we ask three questions:

  1. What would you say were the main reasons why you selected our company?
  2. What other suppliers did you consider before you made your decision?
  3. Why did you feel that our company could meet your needs better than the others?

Although the first and third question are basically the same, we find we getmore information by asking it a second time in a way that makes the customerthink of us in terms of the competition.

As a result of these interviews, we learn a great deal about why people buyfrom us. Some of their reasons match what we had thought, but many of the thingsthey say have been surprises to us, particularly how they viewed us relative toour competitors and which competitors are considered most often.

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