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Beyond the Echo Chamber: How External Feedback Fuels Corporate Growth

Advice from Propel CEO Ross Meyercord on transforming external feedback into strategic advantages to foster growth, innovation, and competitive edge.

Our blog series “The CEO Lens” chronicles insights from Ross Meyercord’s learned experiences as CEO of Propel Software.

If you’re playing corporate catchphrase bingo, you’re always going to win with “feedback is a gift.”

Though it’s often used in reference to performance reviews or internal manager/employee dynamics, there’s also distinct value in external feedback. Feedback from prospects, customers, partners, analysts, etc.

Whether we are listening or not, we receive feedback almost every day from sources outside of the company. 

For fast-paced companies, it’s really easy to walk right past those comments and not catalog them, but as CEO my job is to make sure I’m listening. 

Below are examples of feedback that I recommend tuning into:

  • What metrics are analysts and board members noticing? Where is the company excelling above the industry?
    Example: Propel’s gross retention rate is best in class.
  • What marketing message is making the biggest impact?
    Example: Propel’s product value management (PVM) message is disrupting the traditional PLM sector.
  • What distinct advantages give us a leg up over competitors?
    Example: Cloud-native PLM solutions (like Propel) have a huge advantage over legacy on-prem providers trying to rewrite their applications for the cloud. 
  • What specifics of our product or solution might prevent high-intent prospects from making the leap?
    Example: “I like your solution, but I have concerns about buying it until I can see/believe ‘x.’”

Each of these points could be worthy of its own blog post, but let me spend a little time on the key themes versus specific points. 

I would categorize the above—and most customer feedback in general—into 3 categories: things you are doing well, “negative” feedback that creates opportunity, and straightforward feedback (things you could/should get better at).

1. Things you are doing well

My strongest advice for things you are doing well is don’t take them for granted. Ask yourself "How can we further capitalize on these strengths?"

Can you lean into it more? Market it more? Lead with it in new deals? True strengths that the external market recognizes and talks about are worth their weight in gold. Pay attention to them.

2. “Negative” feedback that creates opportunity

These forms of feedback are especially important to tease out—this is an opportunity to convert more deals that are already in your pipeline if you can solve the core issue the customer perceives. 

What these individuals are saying is they WANT to make the leap to your product or service, but are looking for a specific resolution to a concern before they do. Instead of dismissing this as negative feedback, consider it a solvable problem. This is something your team can actively work on. Maybe you need to price or package your existing solutions differently or rethink an internal process that is causing undue friction with the customer.

3. Good old-fashioned feedback

This is the traditional feedback that you’re likely most tuned into today. Just because you are aware of it though, doesn’t mean your job is done.

Organizational inertia or product management pride may stand in the way of truly listening to the customer and focusing on improvement. Make your product continually better and more reliable. Seek and reduce customer friction points in your go-to-market processes and systems. Continually focus on the best suppliers and partners for your business.

So are you listening for all the feedback, both big and small, that will make your product/company better? How often do you as a leader get out and talk to your customers and prospects to hear the unvarnished truth? I guarantee you they are providing feedback every day; make sure you and your company are listening.

In case you missed it, check out the previous installment of the CEO Lens “A Leap of Faith: Celebrating 9 Years of Propel Software.

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Ross Meyercord
CEO, Propel

Ross Meyercord is CEO of Propel Software, a SaaS provider dedicated to helping high tech, medtech and consumer goods companies build compelling and profitable products. Throughout his 30+ year career, Meyercord has worked in a variety of capacities, including directly with manufacturers to implement PLM and QMS solutions, managed global technology organizations, and has been instrumental in guiding customer-facing teams to increase customer success and drive corporate growth.

Fun Fact: When not working or with family, you will likely find Ross on the tennis courts.

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Ross Meyercord