This Week’s Office Hour: Positioning and the customer’s perspective

This week at office hours was a wide-ranging discussion centred around the positioning of product and companies.  We explored the idea that putting yourself in the shoes of other people is key in selling products and indeed in having effective problem-solving approaches. 

Businesses and the products they produce solve problems.  Business, to be successful, need to identify people with a specific problem and a budget to solve that problem.   Once you have identified that problem-person-budget the next question is; “why do they still have the problem?”.   It must be that 1) other offerings in the marketplace do not address the key needs or 2) they are too expensive, and the person does not have sufficient budget.   Lastly, 3) it could simply be that while there are satisfying solutions at an economical price the solution is not available to the customer because the channels or logistics don’t exist.

If you can identify these factors, you can position your business and offering in such a way to outcompete others.

The conversation kept coming back to the idea that to sell to this person you really do need to understand the problem from their perspective.  This skill is not as common as we would like or expect.  So how do we teach people to see the world from somebody else’s perspective so they can help them solve their problems better.   No concrete conclusions were arrived, but we did explore several educational approaches. In the end it boiled down to getting out and interacting with people, so you understand the world from their point of view.  Having that first customer facing job in your teenage years seemed to be a very good place to start. 

So what happens if you find yourself the manager of a business whose people need this customer empathy.  One suggestion from the Group was to make everybody in a company go on a sales call so they understand the product from the customers point of view.  Another suggestion was that if you are writing marketing material or press releases you should be in the room when a member of target audience reads the material for the first time. 

Please leave your thoughts and susgestions in the comments below.

We’re going to explore positioning of a new product in a bit more of a formal manner next week

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