There’s an old saying in sports – winning cures everything. The same could be said for B2B organizations that consistently meet their strategic goals. When organizations are winning, many of their so-called problems fade into the background. Which brings me to an important point that every product management team should consider: If your organization is on a crusade to find and solve customer problems, STOP! Instead, just focus on helping them “win” more.
I know this might rock your world because from day one, every product manager has been told that to be successful, “you have to find and solve customer problems.” Here’s the thing. There’s something that’s far more important to your target customers than solving all of their problems. It’s achieving their business goals year in and year out.
If the end game is delivering innovative solutions with measurable strategic value to the customer, is looking for those “needle-in-a-haystack” problems the easiest way to get there? Maybe not.
Looking for Customer Problems: It’s Too Easy to Miss the Mark
Here’s a common scenario you may be familiar with.
- You identify a legitimate customer problem.
- You identify why the problems occurs.
- You validate that there are enough companies with that same problem, making for a sizable market opportunity.
- You justify a significant R&D investment with a promising ROI.
- You validate the design of the product solution with would-be customers.
- You build and launch the solution with appropriate value propositions.
- And then…the market reception is the equivalent of a big fat shoulder shrug.
What the heck happened? You did everything by the book! Here’s what went wrong. You solved a real problem with a great solution that, in the grand scheme of things, just didn’t have a big enough impact on the A-list goals of the customer organization. In other words, your target customers have much bigger fish to fry and the obstacles that this solution eliminates just don’t have any impact on their most critical business goals.
Here’s the deal. Your target customers have more problems than you can shake a stick at. Some critical, some irrelevant and a whole bunch in between. Trying to figure out which problems are most critical to solve, let alone their value to a broad market or that they can be monetized to your benefit, is nothing short of overwhelming.
Just for fun, throw that whole consensus thing into the mix — getting everyone in your organization to agree on the value of solving one problem versus another. Can anyone say, “constantly changing priorities?”
A Can’t-Miss Approach
Focusing on the target customers’ business goals from the top down simplifies everything because it cuts to the chase. All you have to do is identify the biggest obstacles standing in the way of those goals and you have the bulls-eye for every product in your portfolio.
If you look at your target markets vertically, it’s even easier. Just look at the market dynamics in any one vertical like large hospital networks. You’ll see that their strategic goals are pretty much the same (80/20 rule) across the board. Ditto for the biggest obstacles standing in the way of achieving those goals. Eliminate those obstacles and the value of your solutions is unquestionable, and you’ll already know the size of the market opportunity.
When it comes to managing your product portfolio, always start with the end in mind – the customers’ top-down business goals. They’ll quickly lead you to the biggest obstacles, then all you have to do is validate your approach for removing those obstacles and your products will hit the bulls-eye every time.
If your products aren’t hitting the mark as often as you’d like, contact Proficientz to learn how our customer goal approach to product management, product marketing and sales simplifies everything so you can deliver solutions with greater strategic value and accelerate your growth.
Related Article: Writing Customer Success Stories Before You Build the Solution