Let’s do a quick diagnostic exam of your business... Here are four questions to ask yourself to confirm or deny whether or not your company suffers from this affliction:
When your sales people articulate your company’s value proposition in front of a potential customer for the first time, what do they say?
If you look at the bulk of the content on your website – what does it describe?
What metrics do you use to define success in your customer relationships?
How do you measure customer loyalty?
In Butler Street’s experience, many companies who ask themselves these questions come up with answers such as:
“In a first call, our sales reps will tell potential customers about what we do…”
“Our website describes the products and services we sell…”
“We measure customer success in terms of revenue, profitability, and product line penetration…”
“We don’t measure loyalty…”
If these are the answers you hear in your mind – then your organization suffers from omphaloskepsis.
But don’t worry – this diagnosis is rarely terminal.
Here’s how to Cure It
Om·pha·lo·skep·sis - or “navel-gazing” is the contemplation of one's own navel as an aid to meditation.
While possibly helpful to individuals as a means of finding inner peace or to drive self-discovery, companies who are omphaloskeptic (i.e. inwardly focused) tend to be much less successful than those who are highly attuned to the needs of their customers.
We have found that inwardly focused companies miss market opportunities because they don’t see patterns in customer behavior. They lose customers more often, and are more likely to be seen by their remaining customers as “vendors” or “suppliers” rather than “Business Partners”. Companies that talk about themselves incessantly don’t grow as fast as their customer-centric competitors, because their sales teams tend to “show up and throw up” on sales calls. And inwardly focused companies are less successful in their marketing efforts, because their message sounds like everyone else in the market who sells the same product or service.
You can solve this problem by teaching the organization to get into the Operating Reality of key decision makers in your customer’s environment. The operating reality of a prospect is defined by his or her Strategic Goals, Financial and Operational targets, and Political Landscape. When sales people, marketers, and customer service teams start to ask questions to understand these four components of a prospect’s world view – they will begin to see problems and opportunities as they appear through the client’s eyes.
Butler Street has a saying:
If we solve our customer’s problems, we’ll solve our own®.
Being in the customer’s operating reality helps your business solve current problems more effectively and prevent future problems. Understanding the customer’s worldview also increases efficiency and productivity of the team while reducing day to day friction. You win more deals and lose fewer customers, and your marketing messages will resonate more with customers, because you are using their language, not yours.
So Omphaloskepsis may be a fine approach to meditation, but it’s no way to run a company. Getting into your customer’s operating reality will ensure that you’re aligned with their critical needs and wants, and that the marketing language you use resonates with them.