Ten Questions any CEO Worth Their Salt Must be Able to Answer

Too many CEOs lack customer focus. Here are ten questions you as a CEO can answer to test your level of customer focus. In addition, you might want to give this test to your marketing intelligence team or better yet, your board.

1. Do you know with any certainty what constitutes quality for any of your market segments? Or any given products in those market segments?  If you are relying on your engineers or marketing people, it is well worth asking them, how they know! Too often quality is an issue of lore or “conventional wisdom” and not the result of data based customer knowledge.

2. Do you know how important quality is to price in your customers’ buying proposition? The answer to this one is obvious when you watch mutually destructive price wars that reduce once powerful industries to commodities.

3. Do you know how your Markets define value? If you don’t know the answer to the first two questions, you can’t begin to answer this one. Value is the relationship or interaction between quality and price and the key buying signal for customers.

4. Do you know your competitive value proposition? Your competitive value proposition is one of your most important assets. If you are not managing this critical asset, then who is? Hint: It’s someone you probably don’t want managing it.

5. Do you know the value propositions of your key competitors? Taken together with Question 5, this information produces the strategic value gaps that should be driving your competitive planning and quality improvements.

6. Do you understand the competitive value gaps and what is producing them? See questions 4 and 5.

7. Do you know how loyal your customer base is (that is before you start losing market share)?

8. Do you know how vulnerable your competitors are and what the nature of that vulnerability is?

9. Do you know if the changes you are making are actually showing up in the market place? If you are not monitoring these changes you are only guessing.

10. Do you know how willing your customers are to recommend your products or services to others? Recommendation should be a critical KPI (key performance indicator) because of its power to increase profitable market share.


Here’s a grading scale you can apply to this test:

1 – 2 right = you are an Ivory Tower CEO, disconnected from what makes money for your company.

3 – 5 right = you are a One Eyed CEO, you need to focus the other eye.

5 – 8 right = you are a Customer Engaged CEO, more work needed.

8 – 10 right = you are a Customer Focused CEO. Congratulations and, there aren’t many of you.