The most important ways to get knowledge about the customers views are market research and reports from sales people. In 2020, Reinhold Würth stated: “Sales people are responsible for 90 percent of the success of the entire company. The IT specialists come in behind with five percent, and all the rest come down to five percent again. The most important employees are our sales people. If they stay in bed, our company would be dead. And if there are no more orders, all the people here have nothing to do, then they can go home.“
Sales people and – if not available – market research inform the company about how to do business. But companies often dislike market research. The reason for that is simply inertia.
Numerous sources recommend companies to rely on simple substitutes of market research.
In 1972, trivial concepts such as the Boston-Consulting-Portfolio emerged stating that one’s market share is the main “driver” of the company’s financial success (ROI) and companies are advised to take any measures to increase market share. Unfortunately, not until 1985, Jacobson and Aaker analyzed PIMS data to check the validity of this recommendation – they reported an R-square of .05 indicating that there is no substantial effect of the market share on ROI. Simple success factors do not work.
In the 90s, the concept of total quality management was developed by engineers (not marketers). They suggested that the company’s staff should sit in a circle and apply scoring technique to develop solutions for market-relevant issues (e.g., “house of quality”, “quality function deployment”). Conducting market research is regarded as redundant. However, it is a technique when the company has employed low-skilled people.
Today, the concept of data analyst emerged who is assumed to detect valuable relationships in large data sets. Data mining neither substitutes intelligence nor insights into the mind of customers.
We recommend to return to market research or to make intense use of it. Why employing Chief-XY-officers who do not focus on the viewpoint of customers instead of employing Chief-(Market-) Research-Officers?
Probably, too much education in the field of market research is tool-based instead of being vision-based. Market research should start with visions – what can be reached, what can be discovered, what challenges could be assumed. Procedural aspects are means to arrive at these goals.