Using satisfaction surveys to sell more in B2B

Very often within companies, satisfaction surveys are completely disconnected from the customer relationship and the sale. Thus, regardless of a customer’s answers, the latter will very rarely see an impact for him. Hence a certain “loss of motivation” to answer the many surveys he receives. There are numerous reasons for this situation:

  • They come within the scope of assessing conformity and quality more than looking for growth and profitability.
  • Too often, they boil down to the production of statistical data which are interesting but of little use in the sales process.
  • Most research firms push towards anonymity thus making individual use impossible.
  • Sales representatives meet with their clients every day and already know their needs.
  • The panel of interviewed customers does not fully reflect sales priorities and does not totally cover priority accounts. 

However, customer survey and sales processes are not foreign from one another as it might seem. Why listen to customers if not for a better understanding of their needs and to get more revenue from them? Our customers who have integrated customer listening in their processes have gained a very positive growth in sales efficiency.

Let’s consider a few problems and some common challengers encountered by numerous sales representatives on a day-to-day basis:

  • It is often difficult to get an appointment with top-level managers in the hierarchy with their customers: they don’t feel legitimate and think that the aforementioned managers have something else to do than meeting with them.
  • They sometimes hesitate to take the initiative of making a direct contact with a new contact person thinking their usual customer would take it the wrong way.
  •  They do not feel comfortable making customers speak about the competition thinking the latter do not wish to speak about this subject.
  • They first visit customers who contacted them, especially when comes the time of requests for proposals, or those who they appreciate most.
  • They have trouble talking about prospective topics and future challenges of the customer, often monopolised by the current business.
  • They do not feel listened to at an internal level when they alert the operational teams on the customers’ expectations, for example, on the necessity of having certain products in stock to be able to respond quickly to some new requests.
  • They do not feel in sync with the marketing team who gives them the impression of working on their own.

It is actually possible to use a customer surveying process to address the aforementioned issues. Here are some concrete examples of ways of improving a classic customer surveying process and turning it into a professional listening tool at the service of sales development.


  1. Capturing customer insight through account planning
  • The list of contacts to interview is established based on the chart of accounts of each customer so that the interviews may directly serve the business goals for these accounts. Thus, the results of this listening process can be analysed from different angles:
    • to better understand the goals and priorities of such and such customer,
    • to better pinpoint the decision-making process of the customer and identify the real decision-makers,
    • to identify the customer’s contact persons who are promoting your business or, on the contrary, your competitors.
  • The results of this listening process can systematically be used as point of entry when reviewing the account.
  1. Reaching out to new customers, traditionally hard to meet
  • The presentation of the results from the listening process is used as an excuse to create an event at the customer’s and involve its management and the one of the supplier.
  • New contact persons at the customer’s (at higher hierarchy levels or representatives of other functions) are invited to participate in the meetings.
  • At the end of the meeting, the participant is asked to recommend other people from his company to be interviewed.
  • A short version of the interview can be drafted to reach out to new contacts (such as top management).
  1. Creating opportunities of meeting with customers outside of projects and
    requests for proposals
  • The listening process makes for an excuse to visit a customer during a period when there is less activity, when there is nothing to sell and no specific problem to solve.
  • Customers are more honest and give more information than they would have given at the time of request for proposals.
  • The presentation of the results of a listening process allows to create the opportunity to give visibility to the customer on the efforts made and the means implemented as well as the actions taken to meet his expectations (current status of the action plan, numerical data, SLAs…).
  1. Winning back a lost customer
  • The listening of a lost customer is an opportunity to show him consideration and to identify the necessary conditions for the resumption of a business relationship.
  • Listening allows to obtain fresh and precise information about the competition (after loosing a request for proposal, for example).
  • Exploiting the results of listening sessions from previous years allows to build a plan for winning the account back.
  1. Sharing useful information during internal meetings
  • The results from the listening sessions bring content to the internal communication of the company and stimulate constructive exchanges during staff meetings.
  • Sharing them allows teams to take a step back from their daily activity and broaden their vision in the medium term.
  • The results analysis from the listening process also allows to highlight different visions internally and, from there, to identify the means to reinforce cooperation between the various departments.
  • The results serve as inputs for the strategy definition of the company (through key information on competition, market trends, etc).

Our experience shows that it is possible to use a listening process as a strong commercial and management tool of the sales teams. 

You will know you have succeeded when sales managers:

– will realise that listening allows them to efficiently make their teams come together and to align support functions with operations ones based on the expectations and priorities of their customers.

– will implement concrete solutions within their scope of responsibility for the listening process to contribute efficiently to their sales performance.

– will be convinced that strengthening the trust of customers contributes to the achievement of their sales goals.