The Challenger Customer: Chapters 4 and 5 (part 5 of 10)

Chapter 4: Building Commercial Insight

Where are we supposed to find this insight in the first place? … You don’t find Commercial Insight. You make it.

What do our customers fail to fully understand about their business, but should?

[Here’s the story:

  • Dentists care about running a profitable dental practice.
  • Hygienist absenteeism was a leading driver of loss of dental practice profits.
  • Non-ergonomic tools were a leading cause of hygienist chronic pain, ie absenteeism.
  • They sell ergonomic tools]

Draw Out the Current Mental Model (See Page 93)

Draw Out the Shift in the Mental Model (See page 96)

If you were to distill this process into basic building blocks, you’d find the entire process boils down to three ways to change a mental model:

  1. You can add a node – meaning you’re introducing a root-cause driver that a customer previously hadn’t known was there.
  2. You can increase the importance of a node – you’re showing a customer that a root-cause node is far more important than they previously believed.
  3. You can add a causal link – you’re making a connection between different nodes in a the mental model that the customer previously believed had no connection to one another.

In even simpler terms [referencing pages 93 and 96], you can:

  1. Add a box
  2. Make a box bigger
  3. Add an arrow

This is the power of a mental model. Sure, it’s just a diagram. But it’s a diagram that holds a huge amount of power, as it crystalizes in very simple terms how customers think of themselves. … After all, customers likely have a whole range of potential outcomes they care about. How would you land on the equivalent of “running a profitable dental practice” in the first place, as opposed to any other outcome that dentists might care about?

Chapter 5: Commercial Insight In Action

The idea underneath the model is to “mine for surprise.” To find a way to reframe how customers assign valueto your points of differentiation. This reframing sounds simple, but the devil is, as always, in the details.

Here are the steps that Leah and her team used to create a Commercial Insight that reframed the way customers thought about the value proposition and led to a very different kind of customer conversation:

  1. List your differentiators
  2. Create a list of outcomes your customers care most about
  3. Prioritize and choose an outcome as a starting point
  4. Map customer beliefs about outcome drivers
  5. Hypothesize connections between your differentiators and customer outcomes
  6. Test and validate connections

The first three steps in this process are the work that you’d do beforeyou get to the mental model mapping we discussed in the DENTSPLY example. Step 4 is the mental model mapping itself. Step 5 is where you figure out how to break the mental model. That’s the Commercial Insight. And Step 6 is all about pressure testing and validating the insight.

Step 3: Xerox rank-ordered the importance [of objections from customers] based on importance from the customer’s point of view. … the team went through a process of assessing the outcomes for their likelihood of having hidden connections to Xerox’s differentiators.

Step 4: They were also asking customers what they believed drovethose outcomes. Again, the team aimed to understand these mental models. … Suppliers don’t necessarily need an ever more refined view of how customers perceive them. What they need is a significantly more refined view of how customers perceive themselves.

Step 5: Hunting for potential hidden disconnects or possible opportunities for reframe:

  • What impact can we have here that we haven’t yet realized?
  • What do we know about this area that customers are overlooking?
  • What is changing in this outcome that customers aren’t aware of? What changes are customers missing?
  • What recommendations would our customers’ customers (pupils, teachers, parents) make here?

Step 6: Leading back to the differentiators:

  • Do we have customer permission to speak about this idea?
  • Can we prove the validity of this idea and the new approach?
  • Can we energize customer stakeholders to act on this idea?
  • Will this idea require the involvement of new stakeholders?
  • Does this idea surface any major risk or cost objection?
  • Does this idea carry any new change management concerns?