By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
When asked if their organizations are “customer-centric” it would be hard to imagine senior executives giving anything but affirmative answers. In fairness, most believe they put customers first. My suggestion is that they look in a mirror and ask what changes have been made to their Product Development process within the last decade to align new offerings with buyer needs.
In many organizations, Product Development is isolated from users and customers. When new offerings are announced the hope is that the capabilities offered will somehow be useful and desired by the market. In taking this approach companies fail to “start with the end in mind” as Stephen Covey espoused for so many years.
I’m working with a client that is going beyond lip service to align with their markets. They enjoy 3 advantages in trying to become more customer-centric when developing new offerings:
1. They are a relatively small organization (“silos” have been broken down)
2. They offer services
3. They have clearly defined market segments
With my help, they’ve defined the titles of typical members of buying committees and menus of business outcomes those titles would like to achieve. Their next step is identifying reasons those outcomes can’t be achieved and developing capabilities to address those reasons. This approach virtually ensures that new offerings align with buyer needs.
Within CustomerCentric Selling®, when creating sales ready messaging® there are two different approaches and applications for our process:
- With existing offerings you define titles/business outcomes, map existing capabilities and then create diagnostic questions to determine which ones are relevant to buyers.
- For new offerings after defining titles/business outcomes, start by defining reasons that outcomes can’t be achieved and design capabilities to address those reasons.
Vendors with new offerings that allow buyers to improve business results and messaging for more consistent positioning by their sales teams can enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage. Buyer requirements should drive product development. Selling is easier for offerings that buyers need.