We can all get so excited by our products that we forget that the customer doesn’t really care. When we’re looking elsewhere, we overlook what the customer really cares about. We’re aimed at what’s possible while the customer is focused on what’s broken. More often than not, we just need to shut up about the vision, and just help the customer fix what’s broken – and address whatever is causing her pain today.
This very basic principle was brought home to me recently during a user focus session we were having at The TAS Group about some of the features in our Dealmaker 7.0 product. As we discussed one particular component (called Dealmaker Pulse) with some internal folks and some users, the debate got quite interesting. Passion is a good thing, and robust open debate (not an unusual occurrence here!) generally leads to a better overall result. Usually you learn something along the way. This time I learned, once again, the value of perspective – and the customer’s need to fix what’s broken in their business before looking at what’s possible.
First let me explain what Dealmaker Pulse does, (3 min video here) so you understand the context. Using a similar paradigm as Twitter, Pulse notifies you when something changes in a sales opportunity. It’s as simple as that. You ‘follow’ sales opportunities (and accounts and users) in the same way you follow people on Twitter. You can also weave in your Twitter and LinkedIn feeds etc.
Because Dealmaker itself encapsulates a lot of clever sales methodology stuff, the alerts or notifications you receive are based on pretty insightful heuristics. When Pulse tells you that a deal can be classified as ‘Verbal Order’, then that is what it should be. If it tells you that an opportunity has gone backwards – and now you’re less likely to win – then unfortunately it’s right.
Now you might be forgiven for thinking that the sales manager who is using Pulse might be focused on the coaching opportunities that could accompany such valuable information – and of course they is real value there. But when asked about that, the sales manager in the room, (Douglas), said “Yeah, sure that will all be great and I will get to that when I can, but more importantly, I don’t need to go looking for information on those key deals anymore. Effectively, Pulse talks to me and tells me what’s going on. I will just follow the main opportunities for each of the team, and I will know immediately when things are happening, or things are sliding. I just don’t have enough time to keep looking for that information on each deal. Now I can stop looking.”
In practice, what we’ve already seen happening is that because Dealmaker Pulse provides notifications when things change – either for the better or worse – sales managers are spending more time coaching on the right things, but from Douglas’ perspective, that’s not the problem he solved. Getting up-to-date objective information when something changed just wasn’t possible for him before – it was broken. Now that fixed, he can focus on how to do something better.
For customers, broken is more urgent than better – always.