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Our Customers Are Missing The Opportunity To ….

by David Brock on December 5th, 2011

I get involved in helping launch lots of products.  Clients are bringing new solutions to the market, they want to maximize the impact, they want to reduce time to revenue, they want to grow as rapidly as possible.  Product developers, product managers, marketing, sales–everyone is excited, “Something new to talk to our customers about!  Something that can drive new revenue!  Something to beat the competition!”

In short the want to Sell A Lot Of New Stuff!

Inevitably all these introductions look the same, everything is about THE PRODUCT!  It’s always Bigger, Faster, Better, More Functions…..

Marketing has all sorts of materials:  Features, Functions, Feeds, Speeds!  There are some customer testimonials, “Wow, this is the best thing since sliced bread!”  There are advertising programs, training programs, playbooks, competitive selling guides, objection handling guides, sales contests, everything.

Sales people are tasked to present the products to customers.  They are equipped with PowerPoint decks, brochures, case studies to present the product Features, Functions, Feeds, and Speeds!  The sales people are prepared to overwhelm customers with great data about the products—but then the customer is left to translate for themselves, “What’s this mean to me?”

The whole focus in the launch is about the product!  Afterall, that’s why they are called “Product Introductions.”

Just one time, I’d like to see a product introduction that focuses, instead, on the customer.  It might start like this:

“Our customers are missing the opportunity to…..

  • ….increase revenues more than they anticipated.”
  • ….improve their profitability.”
  • ….penetrate a new market.”
  • ….improve the satisfaction of their customers.”
  • ….acquire new customers.”
  • ….retain and grow relationships with current customers.”
  • ….rethink the way they run their businesses.”
  • ….achieve things they have never dreamed of before.”
  • ….  ? ?”

You don’t have to address all these areas–one is sufficient.

Then I’d like the launch proposition do something like:

“We’ve thought a lot about your business, these issues, and how we can help you realize those opportunities…….we’d like to explore them with you!”

Then I’d like to see the sales person walk into the customer, with nothing more than a blank pad of paper for note taking, a written agenda, and some written questions and issues to stimulate the discussion and exploration of these opportunities with the customer.   No brochures, no PowerPoints, no sexy pictures or fancy demonstrations.

I’d like to see the sales person trained to lead the discussion, to help the customer think differently, to give them some new ideas, to push them to a different place.  I’d like the sales person to guide the discussion, at the appropriate point, to how our new solution helps them address them translate opportunity to reality.

I’d like to see all the the materials organized around these opportunities for the customer.  I’d like to see all the collateral focused on how the solution helps the customer —vividly demonstrating how the customer can convert a dream into reality, and the results that come with it.  I’d like to see playbooks focusing on customer opportunities.  I’d like to see “battle cards” focusing on the customer problem, not our Features Advantages Benefits.

Somehow I think customers will respond differently…..

But that’s tough work.  It’s easy to do product launches in the traditional way, after all that’s where our expertise is, we know and love our products.

It’s hard to do a customer focused launch, because that demands deep understanding of our customers, their customers, their industry, their competition, how they operate, and where they can improve.

But then again, what do our customers care about?  Our shiny new products?  Or their businesses?

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