Five things I love about Sales people
Stealthy Competitive Analysis

Marketing Tricks to developing products that are a customer's Treat.

Happy Halloween, this is Dr. Eugenia Jones, signing in to the technology marketing center leader’s blog, to bring you insights and inquiries into the biotechnology and healthcare markets. In my last post I talked about the gap between sales and marketing. Geoff followed up with a post gathering the “voice of customer (VOC)” and not just the “voice of sales,” which Robert followed with a post enumerating the 5 things he likes about really good sales people. In this post I hope to tie these themes together, under the banner of providing your customer a real treat; an extraordinary product.

As Robert pointed out a truly good salesperson is one who treats his customers with respect and invests the time to build a trusting relationship. A consistently good salesperson is not someone who uses the tricks of his trade and is “always closing.”  Rather a high performing salesperson is someone who is always trying to understand the customer’s biggest problems, and the more his customers trust him the more likely they are to open up about their greatest issues. Yes, a sales person is selling your solutions, but a great salesperson only sales those solutions that will actually meet the customers needs.

With a great salesperson on our side marketers can gain access to insiders that trust your company and who are willing to take you on guided tour of their world, not just to the bright and shiny parts everyone is allowed to see, but also, behind the scenes, to those areas where problems and inefficiency can be seen. This is the promise land for any marketer, looking to gather VOC that will drive the design of break through differentiated products. Sales people sell solutions, and often if you ask them what the customer wants they will tell you about a feature your competitor has that you are woefully missing. This is because the customer speaks to the sales person about the relative benefits of one solution over another solution, and rarely about their unmet needs.

One secret in gathering VOC is that you don’t want to talk to just any old customer you want to speak with customers who are well connected within their community. Customers who know and can articulate their problems, and those of their communities. Sitting behind a desk, it is possible for a marketer to generate a list of such “A-list” customers, and once you have this list together you should send it to your top performing sales people. Ask them; Who do you know on this list?, Who is missing?, Who would you exclude?, and Who can you get me in to see?. With the help of sales team you can gain cannot only gain access to key members of your target market, but you just might identify an evangelist, and who doesn’t love a customer who loves our newly launched product.

As marketers we look for the unmet needs of our customers. We invest extra-ordinary efforts to understand our customers’ problems, so that we can build a product that meets the customers’ needs end-to-end, a.k.a. a whole product. When looking at a whole product offering we can ask the question, “by what means are we different” from competitors’ oferings? But before we can ask that question we need to have already answered the questions; Different from Whom?, and Different in what way? As a marketer the answer to those three questions; Different from whom?, Different in what way?, and Different by what means?, are key elements needed to development amazing whole products.

Once the products are developed imparting the answer to these three questions to the sales team, will help them to recognize who the customers are, how this product provides the customer an end-to-end solution that meets their needs, and in what ways your product is distinct from competitive offerings.

In the spirit of full disclosure I have been reading Geoffery Moore’s book Escape Velocity for the second time. Actually reading for the first time, the other time I listened to it on my iPod, and I enjoyed it so much I bought the book. If you are looking for edge, this book is a great sequel to “Crossing the Chasm,” and embodies many of the topics Chris Halliwell teaches in hearing training seminars. 

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