When I started my career in sales, I found myself surrounded by people who were always obsessed with something: competitors, market trends, industry best practices. Some would keep constant track of who else was selling what, and how much of it; others would go to great lengths to steal clients from the competition. We’d have weekly meetings where I would report on sales, and every single time we’d just look at these numbers going up and down on a spreadsheet. At one point, the marketing goal for the entire year was to get more fans on Facebook than one of our direct competitors.
I honestly thought it was the norm in business.
But I f—ng hated it.
Back then, I didn't have a way to voice this feeling or say, "You know, there may be another way. Can we do it differently?" I understood that businesses need to be aware of their market and competitors (especially when customers are leaving for them), but didn’t have enough experience to see the bigger picture.
Fast forward to a few years, when I started becoming involved in the marketing community. I started interviewing marketers for my podcast, working with seasoned consultants, seeing how customer-obsessed businesses like Hotjar were run, and generally talking to remarkable people who were true experts in their field.
The more I did, the more I noticed they all had one thing in common. They were obsessed, too, but in a different way than I’d known before: instead of running after industry trends or doing shady things to snatch people away from the competition or increase conversion rates, these people were obsessedwith their own customers.
I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, to everyone in Hotjar, and also to you reading this article: there's no secret hack or magic shortcut to growing a business, getting more sales, making more money, standing out in an ocean of competitors. It takes time, and it takes work, and it starts with learning about who your customers are, and talking directly and listening to what they need.
I hear a few objections sometimes, from people who think they have it all figured out because they have all these dashboards and metrics and are tracking every data point you can think of. And yes, they might have a good understanding of the market and where things are going, but they don't understand people individually, what they think, what they feel, what they believe in. And because of that, they will miss opportunities.
Or, somebody would come to me and say “I’d love to do it, but I don’t have time.” I hear you. That happens at Hotjar all the time: we are so busy doing so many things that we struggle to find time to talk to people. But the truth is that we can't afford, and you can't afford, not to spend time directly with customers. It’s a time investment that pays off later.
Also, it doesn’t take as much time as you may think it does.
For example: in 2017, the Hotjar marketing team met up in Dublin to work together and while we were there, we visited a handful of customers in their offices, to see how they worked, what their days looked like, how Hotjar fit into their routine. I still, to this day, remember those 2-3 conversations I had and the feeling I had when they shared their job pain points and how they were using our tool to solve them.
So here's your ONE resolution for 2019 that most people ignore: spend time with your customers, talk to them, and more importantly, listen.
Don’t know where to start?
Invite a customer to your office for coffee. Or call one up. Or meet them at a conference. Start with one. Whatever you do, the only thing you need to tell them is that you're curious about their business and want to learn more.
It doesn't matter if you're a designer, a marketer, or the CEO, the CTO, a customer service representative, whatever: be curious, you'll learn a lot.
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