Clearly understand the problems you solve
A consistent review to gain clear understanding of the problems you solve for your customers can bring important insights for continued business success. Why are your products and service offering purchased? What is the true value in the market-place for what your solution provides?
The answers are probably found in your CRM system's knowledgebase of conversations, e-marketing responses to useful content, opportunity win-loss reviews, trends in the product and services sold, and intelligent customer feedback surveys.
A favorite quote of ours is "People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” (Theodore Levitt).
It should be so simple: customers need something, the Product team builds it, Sales sell it to the customer, everyone’s happy.
This article is inspired by "Why Sales Needs to align with Product Management to Win Sales".
Quarter-inch drills or quarter-inch holes?
Despite relying on each other for the success of their products, the Sales and Product teams often have a challenging relationship. This is far from ideal. By looking at where things go wrong they can identify a better way of working with each other. The prizes result in: shorter sales cycles, more easily achieved targets and customers who are always happy to hear from you.
Where do things go wrong?
Look at the quantity and quality of communications among key members in your company's departments and between your key department personnel with your prospects and customers.
The strongest business relationships are built on three pillars
- A shared appreciation of the differing needs of priorities of each.
- A genuine desire to help the other to achieve the best outcome for all.
- Trust in the other's integrity.
Dysfunctional relationships tend to be caused by a failure in one or more of these areas. There are really three relationships in the mix.
While there is your internal relationship between your sales and Product/services teams, it's extremely important to consider that each of these have a relationship with the customer. This customer-centric focus provides a way to align the Sales and Product teams around value creation.
Have a healthy respect for both Internal and External Perspectives
A common mistake we see made by both Sales and Product teams is that the customer wants a widget, gadget or solution they are selling - that is wrong! What the customer really wants is an outcome, for their problem to vanish as simply and easily as possible. Your widget, gadget, or solution is just one way to cause that problem to vanish.
Sometimes what the customer needs is very different from what they want! Henry Ford stated "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." Nobody asked Apple to develop an easy way to manage and hear their music. Steve Jobs looked at trends in the market, the rise of capable technology and now we have iPods, iPhones, and iPads (all of which I personally bought into..... and enjoy). The most successful products have always been those solving problems that customers didn't realize they had.
So your company's Product team should be concerned with uncovering the outcomes the customers need, establish the value of that outcome (how painful it is), and create a solution that achieves that outcome in the most effective and profitable way.
Healthy Sense of Curiosity
When the Sales team has a healthy sense of curiosity in solving the customer’s problem, the Product team can clearly understand how to build a better solution. When you meet with the prospective customer, they will probably tell you what they want, perhaps without realizing what they need. Certainly this is understandable. You are a professional sales person with this specific knowledge of solving these types of issues. The customer may not know that they have a problem in the first place, let alone how to solve it. So keep asking "why" and eventually you'll get to the customer’s underlying pain points and understand how painful they are.
You'll eventually come to one of three results once you really understand what problems your company and products solve and how to show the customer how they do so.
- This is something we can help the customer with right now.
- This is something we could potentially help with in the future.
- This is not something we can (or want to) help with.
Alignment delivers results
Jock's article states that the good news is that when Sales and Product Management/Marketing are closely-aligned and both focused on the needs of the customer, you'll see the following results. Having CRM system for knowledge capture and knowledge sharing helps your business achieve these results consistently.
- You'll have more and better quality conversations with prospective customers who have problems you can solve then and there.
- You'll be empowered to quickly hone in and demonstrate how you can solve their problem and let the product sell itself.
- Once you've established a track record of success, you'll be working in partnership so they'll start to bring them to you, rather than you having to uncover them over time.
Appreciate and respect the differences in these relationships between Customer, Sales and Product/Marketing and you'll enjoy working and winning business together.
Interested in learning more and investigating how CRM can help your business grow? Contact Dick at 269-445-3001 or visit our Start a Conversation link here....