Ah, a title with a “who” in it. What or who is it about?
Easy answer. It’s all about you.
Everybody who works for a software company, anybody who has anything to do with the sales process in Mentor Graphics knows it. The customer is paramount.
Know your customer facing orthodxy.
Q: Why are we here?
A: For our customers.
Q: What are you doing that for?
A: For a customer.
Q: Why is this feature on the product roadmap?
A: Er, Malachi Fluffball had a tantrum in the conference room when we dropped it out from the plans, yelling that eight important customers have asked for it so it is not the tantrum, but the customer demand which is the reason.
Q: What’s the difference between a diamond and a platinum and a premium customer?
A: No such distinction. All customers are all crucial to our success. No favorites, none neglected.
And so on through the Capital Catechism. Our favorite word is customer, our favorite win, the favorite warm fuzzy feeling too is the customer’s.
Who are these people? What do they look like? What do they care about?
Well, I’m glad those question came up, recently I have been attending some Trade Show events. Also not so recently have I been doing this – because my experience extends back about 15 years in this field now. So you think I would be pretty clear about who customers are, what they look like and how they do or do not conform to a profile?
Actually I am clear about it. However, and I am not going to tell you everything, because a pesky competitor might be looking over your shoulder and claim – ‘oh yes, we knew that all along’ - and then scribble some notes surreptitiously. But I will not be a thorough spoilsport.
Pictures of Customers
Here’s one way I now like to answer the question “Who are my customers” at a conference event. Listening to them and getting to know what they are concerned about.
Trade shows are tremendous for the experience of networking, the meeting and discussing, exploring new trends, revisiting old productive themes in your business. Attendees, presenters, casual visitors to your booth – their comments and discussion points are all a proper subject fordata gathering and analysis. If you let the data speak for itself then you learn something. You learn something about the entirety of your customer base, their focus, their interests and culture and norms with these data sets.
Say you are visited by 500 people at an event. How can the 3-7 people including you who met and chatted to dozens of people every day pool their experience to capture some generalized lessons from customer interactions? It is not a straightforward matter to evolve a reliable method to make use of the expeience. If the group sits around a conference table and share notes and impressions a week later, that lacks objectivity, relies on sharpness of memory. And a week later I promise you that Mentor Graphics people who joined up, say there in Detroit for a trade show will be scattered to the four corners of the earth by the four winds blowing over the seven seas. Note: for those who like metrics you will notice these are not strict measurements. The point is Mentor Graphics is a multinational company and most people hop from one project to the next in a different time zone along with the customers who likewise operate globally.
An illustration of one thing you can do however is you can see what the job roles and titles of the people you talked with, were in your audience as you presented or gave you a business card. Year to year and event to event a swift analysis of this data tells you who the audience is now, what is important to them. If something is important enough to be in your job title then it is important to your professionally. This is the business card of the whole audience – the big set of potential customers, users of Mentor Graphics products and services.
It is not about me. Unless my job title is – “Automotive Lead Manager Embedded Electrical and Electronic Software and Systems, Controls and Programs.” By the way if this is your job title, congratulations first on having a large brain to go with the workload and secondly congratulations on having plenty of Mentor Graphics’ software products to choose from.
This is the meta-business card of another event. Yes, it is clear to me – “why I am here and to whom I am listening?.” Correct, the customer.