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Translate Your Research into Insights

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Gain insight from the customer-centric discovery process.
  • Learn from real-world success stories.

Gain Insight from the Customer-centric Discovery Process

Taking a customer-centric approach to our sales discovery process (CCD or customer-centric discovery) has helped salespeople develop authentic insights that provoke interesting conversations, versus telling our clients what to do or think. It’s no longer about who can be the smartest person in the room; it’s about the intelligence you can create in partnership with your clients. For example, one sales rep used this approach to offer a fresh perspective about a retailer’s in-store experience versus their mobile app. The company’s stakeholders ate up the feedback. They began asking deeper questions about the salesperson’s experience and the ways other customers had overcome some of the challenges.

While being customer-centric during the discovery process is an intense approach, the rewards are worth the hard work. We know this well at Salesforce. We’ve seen firsthand how this process transforms customer relationships by:

  • Connecting with customers: CCD is all about forging strong connections with your customers in the critical early stages.
  • Building lasting relationships: CCD is just the beginning of a long journey you share with your customer.
  • Enjoying shared, lasting success: When you learn more about your customers, you can help them become smarter and more successful, while helping them transform their businesses.

Learn from Real-World Success Stories

One of the hallmarks of design thinking is taking your own success stories and sharing them with your customers and prospects to establish trust, credibility, and help them see you as an adviser. Here’s a Salesforce use case of design thinking to get your creative energy flowing.

Bus driving down a road as sun is risingOne Salesforce account executive has an account with a major bus company. He typically did his research online, but after learning more about design thinking, he decided to do a different type of discovery.

He went to the bus station in San Francisco and started talking to people: bus drivers, people selling tickets, passengers, and baggage handlers. After gathering that firsthand information, he decided to walk (or in this case commute) in the customer’s shoes. He took a bus from San Francisco to Los Angeles. On his trip, he took note of something surprising: Drivers had to fill out a daily report, tracking details about the bus experience. Typical questions included: Is the Internet working? Is the bathroom clean? He realized that this reporting process was inefficient (and the bus driver confirmed this) because it was all done with paper and pencil. Information wasn’t always getting back to headquarters on time.

The Salesforce account executive collected all this information (not with paper and pencil), which he used to engage the executives of the bus company in conversation. The opening line in his email said, “I’d like to talk to you about my trip from San Francisco to LA on your bus.” He reported a 100 percent open rate because it was about the customer’s business; it wasn’t about Salesforce.

He got a meeting with the CEO, and the rep said, “I’d like to talk to you about your bus drivers’ reports from the bus.” The CEO said, “Wow, how do you know about that report?!” It completely changed the conversation. The account went from a zero to a $3 million account in less than a year.

Live the Principles of Design Thinking

As a salesperson—and in other roles too—you’ll unlock tremendous power as you take on a more customer-centric mindset and offer insights from the customer’s point of view. And while some of the changes discussed in this module take time to master or fully take hold with your team, you’ve seen that they can produce valuable results. By implementing a design thinking approach, you can not only improve your sales numbers, but you can also develop fulfilling and lasting relationships that are priceless.