By Stacy Eads
December 6, 2022

Intel wins wars

Is your business at war with the economy?

Intel wins wars, and some headlines suggest our businesses may, in fact, be going to war with the economy sooner than later. Verne Harnish, author of business books Rockefeller HabitsScaling Up 2.0, and Scaling Up Compensation, focused on gaining client intel during his recent Scaling Up Summit I attended.

The successful businessman’s preferred method of client intel is listed among the 10 Rockefeller Habits successful organizations deploy when growing their companies at a rapid pace. He suggests the CEO ask four key questions to their clients directly, not utilizing impersonal digital surveys. For more information on the Rockefeller Habits, read Scaling Up 2.0 or the Rockefeller Habits—both books have the full list available.

For years before becoming a Scaling Up coach, I was a dedicated Scaling Up CEO practicing the habits listed within the books to grow my former company by 600% its size. To ensure the four questions Verne Harnish lists in the Rockefeller Habits suited my particular needs as a CEO running a local OKC Metro technology firm, I modified the original four CEO questions to 4-6 questions with a specific customer intake form. The form was helpful when deploying the Rockefeller Habits and gaining customer intel so my staff could help me complete as many as possible within a short period of time to see trends and collect insights.

I started at the end of each year, ranking our customers. The top ten by dollars spent were assigned to me as the CEO. The rest of my top 11-20 were not ranked by dollars spent. I took a look with my team to determine ten additional customers who deserved the CEO’s time based on longevity, most repeat business, most referrals, recent hardship, or other factors. The 20 total customers those two lists built were conducted personally by yours truly.

In addition, I had my project managers split the other 80 clients and tackle them all by phone or Starbucks coffee chat within one quarter. With that methodology, we hit 100 clients within 90 days with the power of the team. It’s all meant to be PERSONALIZED, not done by survey, so you get the feedback you need to see pattern recognition. 

Pattern recognition is a key goal at this time. Over the last two years, the pandemic and supply chain issues uprooted many business-to-business relationships and business-to-consumer patterns. You need to get close to your customers again. You need to know what’s up, what’s on their mind, what are they fearful of, what are they grateful for, and where do you fit into their current mix?

Customer intel wins wars only if you can see the message through the forest. You need at least six data points to recognize a pattern, so if your organization’s leader only personally surveys the questions with up to 20 clientele, you’ll be missing key patterns that are more evident once you deploy the power of the team to reach 100 clientele, for example. 

Other than an NPS (Net Promoter Score) or Start Stop Keep, these 4-6 CEO-style questions are the key to gaining customer insight, building relationships, and ensuring our listening skills are sharpened, so the website and marketing messages match what they truly need. When all three Scaling Up listening tools are combined throughout the year in 2023, your business will be unstoppable: Net Promoter Score, Start/Stop/Keep, and 4-6 CEO questions from the Rockefeller Habits. Those are our 3 Scaling Up listening tools: NPS, SSK, & 4 CEO Qs.

  1. Why do you do business with us?
  2. Why do you do business with our competition?
  3. How and when have we made it hard for you to do business with us?
  4. What will you need from us in the future?
  5. If you were me, what’s one thing you would change about our organization? 
  6. How can we effectively tell you that we are grateful for your business?

Here are some additional coach tips on the process of asking these questions:


Just as you would if you were on a job interview, complete your pre-homework to ensure you feel at the top of your game for small talk upon starting the client interview. Ensure you check their website and social media for any updates to their company news, latest products and services, or other announcements. Look at their C-suite LinkedIn profiles to know if they actively participate in any particular associations, community, or business networks you may have in common. If you know their elevator pitch as well as they do, you’re ready!

During the interview

Please remember the VALUE of this exercise. Why “these questions”? Why “this order” of questions? It makes the meeting immediately about THEM, not you. You aren’t there to pitch your latest and greatest. You are there to listen.

The specific questions help uncover client pain points &/or client priorities. “YOU” rather than “your company” may open up more bonding & customer relationships if you can focus on establishing a great “Know, Like, and Trust” factor. It’s all about rapport. Even in a B2B relationship, business decisions are made by people!

During the second question, you should notice them responding with “thinking and feeling words” that help you uncover ideas on how to market to more people like them. The third question is still NOT about YOU. In fact, this question may uncover a raving fan who is interested in writing a testimonial or online review.

The last question is finally about your company’s relationship. Any response they give is good. No defensiveness. Just listen. No major reactions should be shown. Simply be prepared to say, “Thank you for your feedback. Do you have any other ideas on how we could improve or get even better?” or “Thank you for your insight. Do you wish to tell me more? Do you have any other ideas for us?”


Ensure you take a team note about any follow-up necessary. They might have mentioned a need during the meeting that you offered to fulfill or a concern you offered to look into. Follow-up is imperative. No one ever wants to be asked their opinion and then nothing be done about it.

Plus, it’s always a great idea to send a handwritten thank you card by mail. They took the time to speak with you by phone or have coffee or lunch. Their time is valuable. Ensure you recognize that. These days, a handwritten thank you has become a lost art form, so it truly feels above and beyond. 

I hope these 4-6 CEO questions and the pre-interview and post-interview tips are helpful as you embark on your 2023 strategy. If intelligence wins wars, ensure you’re well-equipped for today’s ever-changing, dynamic economy with the latest customer intel.

My promise to you: If you choose to read Scaling Up to see how the 10 Rockefeller Habits could streamline the execution of your goal, I’ll meet with you for one hour at no charge to answer any Q&A you have about the book. Reach out anytime at

It is not a sale pitch. Period. I’m a born and raised Edmondite who ran an Oklahoma software company for a decade, using the book and free online worksheets by themselves, without a private coach running any team sessions. I’m proof you can DIY bootstrap as much as possible with this $20 book. All you need is the willpower to scale up your business and Siri’s directions to your nearest locally-owned bookstore. Good luck!

Subscribe to Email Updates


Get Edmond Business news in your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

About Stacy Eads

Edmond native & UCO Alumna, Stacy Eads, is an award-winning “Most Admired CEO” who scaled her company as a Woman in Tech before becoming an International Scaling Up Business Coach. She now empowers other CEOs from $2M to $200M to embrace their leadership potential through quarterly strategic planning. Her talent is in high demand to CEO Coach, Train Teams, and Speak at Events in both the U.S.A. and Canada.

Stacy Eads’ career affiliations include 50 Women Making a Difference award, Circle of Excellence award, Torch Ethics award, Most Admired CEO award, Edmond Chamber & UCO Mentor, Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma Board of Directors, TEDx OKC Speaker Coach, and Ambassador Chairwoman for the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce.