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How to Organize a VOC Road Trip


By Chris Parks

Chris ParksSituation
We were struggling with a DSP control system product family for our professional audio components that just seemed to never be able to find it’s wings. The DSP system had some genuine advantages versus many of the competitive offerings and we had recently announced a few key features that might have been holding back sales over the past few years. Even considering the missing features, we really didn’t understand the “why” of sluggish sales through our installer distributor channel, at least for a subset of applications. The product had enjoyed some success during the build out of large cinemas and sport stadium venues in the late 90’s, but was not really participating in the growth markets of the new century such as casinos and houses of worship. We decided to put a formal project in place to understand where our control system was positioned versus the competition and to determine what we could do to increase sales.

How Strategic Marketing Course Concepts Apply
One thing I remember well from the course, “getting to why…” Getting to why requires talking to the Opinion Leaders, and that in and of itself can pose a major challenge. Going out to talk to opinion leaders sounds simple, but in fact management has in the past pushed to rely on any useable information that might be immediately at hand. In this case, however, company management appointed a cross-functional team from sales, engineering, and marketing to execute a disciplined Voice of the Customer interaction process. Company management was determined to gain the most impact possible from customer feedback, and to put plans in place, once and for all, to improve DSP control system success.

The team agreed that opinion leader input was crucial, but that meant we had to agree on which customers actually qualified as opinion leaders. First, we asked Sales to identify which dealer installers bought the most product from the company overall, and whether those purchases were fewer large orders or frequent smaller orders.