It’s been a few weeks since I have blogged about ETAs or Marketing Clusters, so regular readers are probably not surprised that I am going back to them today. In the last few weeks, client discussions have reinforced one of the interesting byproducts and side benefits of exploring things from an ETA angle.
Here is how it starts. We recommend using ETAs from 2 perspectives. First, as part of an ideal customer profile. Second, profiling specific organizations (customers and prospects) that you work with a lot. In doing that, we generally recommend to have multiple people, if possible, complete the assessment independently (if you want to do this yourself, the assessment can be found here).
When multiple people complete the assessment, you often get different responses. In some cases, that might not change the resulting profile, but often it does. Effectively, this is telling you that different people view the product or customer differently. This is super useful when done by people from different parts of the organization.
A couple of interesting examples (client names not included) that I found very interesting:
- A company had the sales rep responsible for winning a deal and the customer success rep working with the account on implementation assess the same customers. In every single case, the ETA that was determined based on customer success managers was “less dynamic”, mostly in terms of pace of change, than the responses of the sales rep. This could signal a couple of issues. First, the customer had ambitious ideas from the sales process, but the implementation is stuck on “we got to get the basics right.” This could be a risk signal for retention and growth. It also signals that maybe people in the account are not on the same page about strategies and goals.
- A CEO had their leadership team complete the assessment to profile what they thought their ideal customer would be. The technical founder leaned heavily toward a more innovative profile, whereas other profiles were more conservative. This could lead to mis-aligned messages and expectations. That leadership team is meeting together next week to discuss.
Often, when these differences happen, the initial view is that it is a bad thing. It’s not. It’s actually a good thing, if you follow through.
Here is how you do it:
- Collect all of the responses in one place for each question and then discuss them together. Have participants explain why they chose a response to understand their position. Work together to discuss and come to a consensus response.
- Re-run the assessment using the consensus choices. See if the resulting ETA “feels right.”
- In some cases, you may feel, particularly when doing this from the ideal customer profile perspective, that multiple answers are fine (in general, those answers should be adjacent and should not be more than 2). if that happens, run the assessment enough times to capture the permutations with the different acceptable responses.
- Then adjust your marketing strategies and sales tactic accordingly.
ETAs can also be used by customers to reveal disconnects in how their teams view their technology approach. Same process would work for them, but might include “what do we need to do differently to get to where we want to be?” type discussions.
Simply the process of having a guided framework for these discussions will provide deeper insight and shared understanding than through many other methods. It also reveals potential hidden blindspots and objections that may be slowing you down.
I hate the term alignment (largely because it feels like a statement that people pretend to care about) so I won’t call this that, but collaboration and discussion to get everyone on the same page. That sounds like a winner to me.