Note: One of the more difficult aspects of customer development is understanding when to listen to customers/prospects and when not to. When should you rely on intuition and when is the customer right, if not always? Steve Blank's oft quoted clarion call to "get out of the building" demands that you listen to customers, but not that you necessarily heed what they say! You may have the wrong customer for your business. You may have the right customer who emphasizes the wrong root cause to a problem. As I tweeted the other day:
maybe your product focus should be what your current customers don't ask for or what your lost customers wanted.
This guest-post is a follow-up to my original Case Study posted at the Lean Startup Circle. (Thanks Brant for lending me your digital soapbox.) I wanted to further flesh out an important insight that came out of conversations about my ongoing Customer Development experiences as well as address a common fallacy that keeps popping up in conversations and email threads with regards to what Customer Development is and isn't. The fallacy being that customers will simply hand over the Holy Grail (read: Product/Market Fit) if you go and chat a bit with them. Read More »
I just got off a webinar about lead gen in today's economic environment. I was pleased to see several process-oriented and metrics driven marketing recommendations, including:
need to be revenue focused, rather than # of leads focused;
marketing taking greater responsibility for pipeline management;
measuring, testing, refining every step of way through pipeline;
identified information and activity overload problem;
A few key points still missing, IMHO.
First, in today's environment, business needs to be profits-focused, not just revenue-focused. This is a critical distinction. An expensive advertising campaign may add more leads to your pipeline, some of whom eventually buy. You've increased revenue, but hurt the short-term bottom line. (Arguably there may be longer-term benefits from raising "awareness" through advertising.)
Second, this may just be a language thing, but I'm guessing not. Marketing and sales professionals continue to talk about the "sales process," e.g., the necessity to create activities and produce collateral that "nurture" customers through the sales cycle. Despite the fact that this webinar correctly identified information overload as a problem, the end recommendations still pushed for "getting all the information the sales team needs into their hands." Step back! This is classic reactive marketing and emblematic of VP of Sales (& Marketing) driven marketing.
Key question to ask: what is the buyer's process.
Third, "who is the prospect" was asked at the end of the webinar, when it should have been slide 1. Even if your company was able to handle multiple segments before the economy tanked, you need to reassess to determine what are your profitable segments now. See point 1.