Gumas - April

How Challenger Brands Should Question Their Questioning

Understanding what your customers and prospects need to hear from you that will motivate them to learn more, contact you or complete some sort of action is at the foundation of the Challenger Brand approach to messaging. To discover this magical, compelling language, your current customers must be forthcoming with the reasons why they currently work with you and why they are delighted by you on a daily basis. To learn this, we need to conduct formal, confidential, one-on-one phone interviews. Here are some things to consider when researching your customers.

Independent Expertise
It is important that a third party expert conduct the phone interviews as customers are much more willing to share their opinions with strangers than with their partner contacts. Imagine asking your client directly, “What do you think of me?” You’ll likely hear platitudes and innocuous responses like, “oh, he’s a nice guy, knows his stuff, great sense of humor…” When in fact, what you want to know are the answers this client gives when you leave the room. That’s the truth. The truth that only an independent researcher will uncover.

Conduct Phone Surveys
People are not as honest when they are looking right at you, face-to-face. People are more likely to share their true feelings when they feel anonymous; and they feel more anonymous when they’re on the phone.

The key to collecting the right information is asking the right questions. Smart questions. Provocative questions. Inspiring questions that dig deep into the customer’s psyche to unearth the true, emotional connections between them and you. As Champions of the Challenger Brand, we have crafted a proprietary questioning technique that gets to the heart of why a customer chooses to work with you versus a competitor. An effective customer questionnaire will generally include:

  • Establishing Questions – Who are you, what is your role with your company, describe your relationship with the interviewing organization, etc.
  • Industry Questions – What are the key factors you must consider when evaluating potential industry partners and how does the interviewing organization stack up?
  • Focusing Questions – What’s the one thing that makes the interviewing organization special?
  • Improvement Questions – What’s the one thing you would change about the interviewing organization?
  • Priority of Considerations – Identify the top considerations a potential customer would have when selecting an industry partner and how would they rank them in order of importance. It’s always enlightening to see how the customers rank the considerations compared to how the company believes their customers will rank them. Rarely are they in sync.
  • Visioning Questions – How do you see the industry and the interviewing organization three or four years down the road? What will be most significantly different?

Of course, there are several other specialized questioning techniques we’d recommend depending on your business, industry and customer base. If you could use some assistance creating a questioning strategy, please contact us at

Until next time…

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