You’re Hiring Me To Help You Do a Job Better, Right?


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I’m in a unique position as a CRM consultant because I have customers who have needs, and it’s my job to understand them, prioritize them, and target my efforts at creating solutions for the most valuable outcomes. But, my focus can’t stop there, because as a consultant in the CRM space, I need to impart this same understanding to my customers so they can better serve their customers. That’s the kind of outcome a customer should expect from a CRM consultant, right? So, do I leverage the same framework to serve both? The answer is yes.

Something I find interesting is how many companies invest time and money in endeavors that are not based on facts. They assume that one of hundreds of ideas will work, but also assume that it will take many attempts before an idea hits the mark; if it hits at all. There is an inherent risk in guessing, and coming from a background in banking, where at least on the surface risk is addressed through an underwriting process, I’ve found this lack of factual understanding to be something that has niggled away at my core for the 16 years – since I left the financial industry. While they didn’t get it right 100% of the time, at least they talked about risk. We give our product / service designers and marketers budgets based on what? I don’t know, do you?

As Steve Blank says, the facts are not inside the building, and I was also reminded of this by Graham Hill recently.

Can You Articulate Your Framework for Eliciting Customer Needs?

How many people in your company know all of the desired outcomes that your customers are trying to achieve? If anyone in your company can answer that question (which I doubt) ask them if they know which of those outcomes are most underserved by products and services currently available to them. Don’t be surprised if you hear crickets. This is not the sort of information you get from Voice of the Customer initiatives. Customers speak in a language that is convenient to them, not in the language you need to understand outcomes they use to measure how well you help them get their jobs done. They will use terms like needs, specifications, wants and solutions.

Which Job or Jobs Are Your Services Being Hired to Help Complete?

This is a critical question that must be answered if you are to begin working with facts. There is not just one job, there are many jobs to be done, especially in my world of CRM. Too many jobs to list here. And each of these jobs involves numerous steps before, during and after the job in order for it to be completed successfully. Each of these steps is where lay hidden the many desired outcomes that your customers use to measure how well they get the job done – using your product or service, or doing it on their own.

Knowing how to contruct an outcome statement, measure it’s importance and its level of satisfaction, provide you the means to determine the opportunity you have to solve a currently underserved outcome; for your customer or in the marketplace. This is the heart of outcome-driven innovation, and should be the heart of any consulting engagement as well. We should be co-creating broad statements with our customers which will always be true over time, such as minimize the time it takes to qualify a lead, for example. You will need, and find many such outcomes, some satisfactorily served by current solutions, some overserved and the gems that are underserved.

Once you know these things as facts, you’ll be able to…

  • Help Get a Job Done Better
  • Help Get More Jobs Done
  • Help New Customers Do a Job That Others are Already Doing (e.g. enter an existing market innovatively)
  • Help New Customers Do a Job that Nobody is Doing Yet (e.g. create a new market)

You will also…

  • Stop improving areas that are already satisfied
  • Stop making improvements that satisfy unimportant outcomes
  • Stop making improvements that negatively affect other outcomes
  • Prioritize opportunities to easily identify underserved and overserved markets
  • Predict where value is migrating over time
  • Identify competitors strenghts and weaknesses, know which to emulate and know which ones to wish them success with (with a wry smile)

This level of understanding can also be highly valuable to a CRM consultant as each engagement should be designed to deliver the most value to the area of most need. How are you capturing customer requirements today?

Customer Requirements That Mean Something

The emerging thinking on this subject is based on outcome-driven innovation. The success rates of this methodology are far greater than the customer-driven methodologies of the past. Don’t be confused because I said customer-driven, because the outcome-driven approach co-creates value with the customer at every point in the value-chain. This is what customer-centricity is really about. Not just listening to them, but working together in a framework which enables each party to get what they really need for value generation…the facts.

Look at your current approach and try to find an output that provides clear and direct, quantified information that tells you exactly where to target your ideation, or consulting efforts. Does it tell you exactly how much value you will add to your customers for each targeted idea that you come up with? Does it help you decide what’s worth pursuing and what’s not? Ask yourself if that kind of information sounds valuable.

A business that wants to grow, as most do, must continually innovate. Innovation is the only undiluted way to grow your business. Consultants must be innovative, and they should enable innovation in their client companies. To innovate in a consistent and repeatable fashion, you need to understand your customers’ needs, which a customer cannot articulate if you simply ask them how to make your product or service better. The unit of analysis must be the job(s) they must accomplish and you must clearly understand the desired outcomes they use to measure the success.

If you feel your methodology for gathering customer requirements is satisfactory, let me leave you with some light reading shared with me and a few friends by Graham Hill the other day.

Interesting studies. This one looked at 97 companies and found CRM technology only has an indirect impact on business success (via people and analysis) Ths one looked at 345 companies and found that the choice of CRM technology vendor had little or no impact on the success of CRM projects And this one looked at 211 companies and found that CRM technology had a negative impact on business performance So does CRM technology influence success in CRM?

He leaves us with a good question. If it’s not about the technology, which so many of you out there are saying these days, what is it about? I’ve just shared what I think it’s about. I’d love to hear what you think.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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