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What Do You Do — For Your Customers?

by Hank Barnes  |  October 13, 2015  |  Submit a Comment

I just got back from Gartner’s U.S. Symposium in Orlando.  Over the course of 4 1/2 days, I must have spoken to 50-60 tech providers.  At events like this one, the question of the day seems to be “What do you do?”  (WDYD)  I’m tired of that question–at least from a provider perspective.   It launches most providers down the wrong path.

The answer ends up being all about them and their company.   By the time you hear “We provide analytics” or “We are a security vendor” or “We are an IT services company” for the 10th time, your eyes tend to glaze over a bit.

Everything starts to sound the same.  When we got past that, there was usually some unique value in all of the providers.  But telling the story needs to change.


Going forward, I’d like to start a movement to abandon the WDYD question —or at least the rote answer approach to it.   It has become the tech industry’s “How are you doing?”  (a question where the answer is geared toward ending the conversation as soon as possible.)

Instead of asking “WDYD” ask “What do you do for your customers?” (WDYD-FYC)  … or answer the WDYD question as if it was asked that way.

In this case, the answers usually get a bit more interesting.

  • “We help customers uncover opportunities to generate 15% more revenue from existing customers through analytics.”
  • “We enable customers to uncover latent threats that have made it past their perimeter defense in a fraction of the time with our threat detection service.”
  • “We help companies succeed at Mode 2 projects with our focused project teams and approach–that also teaches them how to do it themselves.”

What you do is context.

The value you deliver is what matters.  That is about the customer.

Shift your stories.  Value first, context second.  Customer first, you second.

WDYD-FYC is the way to go.


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Category: future-of-sales  go-to-market  

Tags: messaging  value  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

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