The Long View

Stu Perlmeter

In listening to music, we love to follow a great melody. Whether it’s a piece we know or one that’s new to us, we enjoy the return to the “chorus” that the verses inevitably come back to. We do that just by active listening. It strikes a chord in us and connects us to something deep within us.

Performing customer insight work, is a bit like listening to music, but with an important difference. If you practice this for a long time, as we have, you learn to listen in a subtly different way – you listen not only to the “notes” of their thoughtful statements; you learn to listen between the notes of what they say.

Listening in this deep and relevant way requires a rare and unique set of skills. This listening involves a real-time synthesis of everything they’ve said up to that moment; it also requires a critical element that can’t be taught. It requires empathy – real empathy, not rehearsed lines intended to sound empathetic.

This cultivated, but native skillset is what opens the conversation in a way that builds trust, leads to candid disclosure and to the reflective thoughts and emotions that provide value to marketers.

Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those posts that offer the 3 or 4 critical steps to conducting a successful customer insight interview. Marketing and Sales leaders are advised to trust a competent third party that possesses these native talents and skills, evolved through thousands of such research “conversations”.

Your customers will appreciate that too – not only your current customers, but also lapsed customers and “failed prospects”, in the context of a Win-Loss interview. Customers are humans, busy ones at that, and they appreciate a thoughtful discussion where they are truly heard. They have no real interest in being research “respondents”.

1st Resource has been delivering customer insights, based on our grounding in Social Psychology and Behavioral Economics for over 23 years. We listen well, and just maybe, we’ll make some music together.

About the Author

Stu Perlmeter

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Stu brings 30 years of marketing and research experience to 1st Resource, which he founded in 1996. Stu’s primary expertise is in understanding the market insights that tie to success formulas for companies seeking to grow their business in strategic ways.