Solving the Wrong Problem

I have found that when companies don’t get the traction they would like to get in their market, most of them start to question their go-to-market approach – their messaging, their positioning. The sales force is often put under the microscope. Are they are presenting the product correctly, are they showing prospects the real value of the offering, have they indicated a positive return on investment? This is only natural, as the company that designs and develops the offering fully understands it and inherently believes in the value it would deliver to the customer. And therefore simple logic would seem to dictate that if the prospective customer understands and believes in that same value they would buy it, right? Wrong.

The simple failure of this apparent logic is at the heart of most revenue generation challenges today. Companies change their messaging, search for ever more powerful value propositions, train the sales force yet again to better nail down their customer’s interest and belief in the offering. However, all this activity is essentially solving the wrong problem. Our research has shown time and time again that prospective customers actually do “get it”. They understand the offering and truly believe in the value they would gain as a result of acquiring and adopting it. And yet they hesitate and fail to buy – not because of faults in the product or its presentation, but because something in their own buying journey is blocking the road.

From our research, we have discovered nine definable friction points that can occur in the Customer Buying Journey. They crop up later in the buying journey and occur as individuals try to gain organizational commitment to adopting a new offering. They occur as other individuals get involved with their own agendas and preferences. They occur as the organization starts to understand the implications of adopting the new offering and the changes involved in doing so. Counter-intuitive or not, we have found that when customers don’t buy it’s rarely due to a lack of belief in the offering – it’s all about the internal issues in their own buying journey.

The irony here is that most companies are solving the challenge of how to best present their offering to a prospective customer – but that isn’t the issue. The real issue is the lack of focus on the Customer Buying Journey. Sadly, for most sales entities, they are either unaware of the friction points their prospective customers are getting hung up on or they trivialize them. At best, the sales force tries to manage them – those that they’re actually aware of – on a reactive basis and often when it is too late to save the deal. This is both unfortunate and unnecessary because we have also found that for a particular offering in a target market, these friction points can be mapped. Once this is known, a strategy can then be developed to pro-actively manage or mitigate the friction points in the Customer Buying Journey.

For companies that would like to see accelerated revenue growth – stop solving the wrong problem. Stop thinking that the secret to success lies in better positioning, messaging and proving the value of the offering. Start by understanding the complete Customer Buying Journey, and especially what happens inside the prospect’s organization after they see the value of your offering.

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