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Subjecting Customers to Navel-Gazing

by Hank Barnes  |  November 27, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

I suspect we’ve all seen it (and probably done it).   A company creates an upgraded version of a product.   As part of the launch planning, content is created and sales training is done–critical components of a successful launch (not the only components, but critical nonetheless).

The content and training often focus on what is new and different from the current product. “It runs faster.” “Installation is easier.”  “It has more features.”  and the list goes on.

The focus is squarely on the great new product.

And then it hits you.  Many of the comparisons are only relevant to customers that have experienced the current product.   And yet, we focus most of our content and stories around this.

Photo by Sina Katirachi on Unsplash

Photo by Sina Katirachi on Unsplash


Then, as we interact with prospects, we emphasize all the things that are new and better.   In some cases this may be fine, but in other cases, they reaction is likely to be “Wow, they must have had a lot of issues with the current product, I wonder what’s still not working right with the new one.”

This navel-gazing approach is a losing approach.

Instead, look at it from the outside in.   Focus first on your ideal customer profile–what matters in the product (not just the new capabilities, but everything) to them.   Then identify if you need to create tailored content and communications for customers in different situations.   As you introduce the new product to sales, don’t start with the product–start with the customer.  Educate on the different situations, how to recognize them and how to manage them.

Great product improvements are not about the product–they are about the value to the customer.   Navel-gazing assumes context that may not exist.   Shift your perspective.



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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: product-launch  product-management  sales  

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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