It’s not just employees of the bank using your solutions; it’s also the bank’s customers. The same can be said for hospitals and their patients, credit card companies and their cardholders, insurance companies and their policyholders, and a host of other businesses. For many technology companies, the customer’s customers, both businesses and consumers, are becoming the de-facto “customer” in terms of influence. The ripple effect is forcing product teams to cast a much wider net to gather customer needs and rethink the manner in which they deliver the solutions.
Once upon a time when you sold a technology product or service to a business, the only people using your products were those that worked inside the four walls of that business. In today’s connected world, that could easily be the exception. The growing sphere of influence from your customer’s customers is impacting three key areas of product management & marketing, and it’s all for the better because the root causes that drive those needs are becoming clearer to everyone.
1. The People You’re Talking To
When product management was in its infancy, needs and opportunities were identified primarily by talking people who used the products inside the customer organization. Today, product teams should be having conversations with people at all levels of the customer organization to get a complete picture of how the market and business dynamics impact their organization from top to bottom.
The customer’s customers have to be factored into that equation more now than ever. It’s essential to fully understand what your customers are trying to accomplish strategically and how their day-to-day operations are impacted by their customers. Only then can you determine how and where your solutions have the biggest impact.
2. Product & Technology Strategies
“What’s our mobile strategy?” It’s a typical example of a question many technology companies are asking themselves – but product and technology strategies can be misguided and lead to ill-advised product investments if they’re formed in silos.
Instead of thinking about strategies for specific products or technologies, it’s more beneficial to craft a single portfolio strategy centered on the goals of your target customers and the biggest obstacles they face. When those goals and obstacles are crystal clear, a single strategy that defines the business solutions will encompass all products and technologies required to deliver the most valuable solutions.
For example, let’s say trucking companies with refrigerated fleets are losing loads of perishable products (and bottom line profits) because they have difficulty keeping track of fuel levels that run the refrigeration units in the trailers. You’d first determine how to attack the problem in a manner that’s highly desirable and marketable to trucking companies. If mobile functionality is a critical component of the solution, than it belongs in the overall portfolio strategy.
Products and technologies are the means to the end and their strategic direction should be a derivative of the business solutions that have the highest market value. A clear understanding of how those products and technologies will be used is essential to creating the technology platforms they’ll reside on.
3. Marketing & Sales Enablement
In many cases, you know how to position value to your customer’s customers better than your customers. That’s great news for you because your marketing and selling becomes much more consultative, and that’s an attractive proposition to your customers. They’ll do business with you over a competitor if they’re convinced your expertise can bring more value to their customers, and ultimately to their organization.
Before embarking on your next planning cycle, consider the impact your customer’s customers are having on their business and determine the relevance to your portfolio of products. You may already have a few high-value solutions in the bag. When was the last time you launched a new solution that didn’t require any product development?
If the lens of your product management & marketing team is too narrowly focused on users within the customer organization, contact Proficientz to learn how our product management framework and training programs will help your team see the bigger picture and focus on a wider circle of influencers and the higher-value multi-product solutions they’re demanding.