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.
Never before has it been so important to understand why a customer buys your product. What pain are you curing? Well there is one way to find out. Go ask your existing customers how they use your product and what benefit they believe they receive. It’s amazing what you can learn.
Just recently The TAS Group launched the ‘Win an iPad2 Project’ to learn how end-users are benefiting from Dealmaker or TAS – and each month the user who gives the best example of how they used our products to win a sale, manage their sales team, or increase their sales forecast accuracy, wins an Apple iPad 2.
We were prompted to do this because our interaction is usually with the business buyer, or the project manager who is responsible for implementing our solutions, and we don’t get enough sustained direct engagement with our end-users. There are also some TAS aficionados out there who are no longer with their original company but who still are using Target Account Selling (TAS) to win deals – and we are very happy about that. When we do meet them and they see where we have taken TAS – they are usually very excited, if a little surprised that we are now provide the Dealmaker intelligent software application with TAS embedded.
In any case, what we have found is that when the user base is as large as ours now has become, it is just not possible to hear from everyone.
We do invest considerable resources in deep engagement with our customers – long after the sale. (You will perhaps have seen my recent blog post about how ITS improved their win rate by 58% using Dealmaker), and we were very pleased when Aberdeen Research published its independent study (sorry, registration required to get this) that shows that customers of The TAS Group attain 21% higher quota achievement. But it is just not the same. Don’t get me wrong – these are clearly very gratifying stories. I just don’t think it is quite the same as hearing about how Jane or John won that critical deal because our solutions helped. I have to believe that we are missing out on pearls of wisdom.
So, when this Tell Us Your Story and Win an iPad project was proposed, it was clearly a no-brainer. (BTW, depending on how much this version of the project resonates with our customers, we may well step up the activity, and perhaps launch a Dealmaker of the Year competition with a nice juicy prize. Anyone fancy joining me in an all-expenses-paid golf-trip to Ireland?)
I think we are unique in the industry because our company is in effect the amalgam of two distinct disciplines: intelligent software applications and deep sales methodologies. And, I believe, we are the only company in our space who invests millions of dollars every year in a dedicated R&D center. We listen to our customers through our on-going support forums and heavily use our Customer Success Charter to maximise the return for our customers , but yet I’m not satisfied that we hear enough from the end-users; and unless we are super-clear as to the problems they have and the benefits they receive then we are not learning all that we should.
In our case, our future product direction is a combination of customer input, market research, and vision. The last of these is important, as it always is for a company providing a disruptive solution. Before Dealmaker was built no one would have known to ask for an intelligent software application to guide the sales person to win a deal; so that’s where the vision piece comes in. But vision informed by stories from the coal-face is always the optimum solution.
So, we do want to hear from you. I know you have valuable stories to tell. And we are all ears. Who knows you might even win an iPad.
(Phew – I didn’t even mention social media or Google+ once. Oh nuts, I just did.)