As a company plans, develops and launches a new product, a significant portion of the development budget is often dedicated to market research. Whether it is customer surveys, focus groups or social media feedback, rarely (hopefully never) is an important decision made without soliciting customer feedback.
So if we’re so dedicated to responding to what our customer’s day, why do so many product launches fail to meet forecasts? While there are certainly many ways that market research can be done poorly, even the best market research can let us down and leave us scratching our heads as to went wrong.
Wants vs. Needs vs. Budgets
One often-overlooked element is that the gap between features customers say that they want and those that actually fit in and around their budget. More often than not that gap is wider than product marketers anticipate.
As a decision maker, it’s easy for me to say that your product needs any number of bells and whistles in order to make me happy. In fact, my team might very well give me a VERY long list of “nice to haves” when I ask them for about using your product. I’m more than happy to pass along that list if you’re willing to listen. Then, when your sales team starts calling, expecting an easy sale because your product upgrade exactly matches the specs I (and your other customers) laid out for you, they find that MY CHECKBOOK REMAINS CLOSED.
The result is a significant waste of resources and a disillusioned sale team that gets tired finding out that selling the next big thing is much harder than marketing promised them it was going to be.
Bridging the Gap
How do you bridge that gap? How do you develop new products and new features and launch them into the market with a greater degree of confidence that our customer will actually find room in the budget? One key way is to put your new products and services into a sales environment much more quickly than is customary.
Instead of waiting until the product is launched to the field organization, why not start “selling” it at a much earlier stage? While you’re adding a new feature that solves a particular customer problem, put that information in the hands of a sales person. Let them see if they can get appointments based on the value propositions you’re offering. Once they get a conversation, can they get the customer to commit that the ROI offered would make it a worthy investment? If not, it might be time to re-think things.
Done the right way, these early sales conversations can start taking place before the product is ready for prime-time and even before development is started. Feedback that results when a customer is asked to start committing resources can to more focused development and quite possibly the early shelving of ideas that seem like winners based on initial customer feedback.
Call Prescott Sales Pilots
Prescott Sales Research delivers the information you need with creative solutions that evaluate whether your target market is willing to commit resources based on your proposed value statements. Contact us to discuss the possibilities.