Most of us have at some point been guilty of prioritizing our product features and benefits over our customers' problems. In a recent article on the Predictable Revenue blog, Pete Kazanjy shared some great insights on the importance of understanding of customer problems to create powerful sales narratives.
If you're not constantly running customer development exercises at your company, how do you stay cognizant of your customers' changing needs and keep your messaging aligned?
Doing customer interviews is crucial, we used to have customer interview Fridays every week to stay tuned with real feedback on current features and testing out new ones (mainly UX).
Customer development and continuous feedback loop are a must-have, you should always look for problem and a trigger. Trigger is the core, sometimes it a situation that can be translated into a visual, it's what was said by your customer, and it's so good - you can copy-paste it to your tagline. All these things matter and it is best when marketing team is actively engaged in this process and asks questions to gain insights.
Another question is how to test it so that it doesn't damage your brand? AB testing (if traffic volume allows to do it), Usabilityhub.com tests to see if people understand what you offer, 5 sec tests are super useful too and you can select who do you show the test to. Also Peek Usertesting video recordings of people looking at our site, Hotjar. The best question to ask: please explain what this website is selling? why do you think so? how trustworthy it looks to you, why etc?
If marketing, sales and product teams work together to gain insights in customer needs, then amazing things happen. Check my deck, I hope it is helpful: https://www.slideshare.net/peeplaja1/daria-nepriakhina-problemsolution-fit
getting to interview your customers is a faster way also to know what some of your competitors might have in mind to introduce, it can also gives you a step ahead on what to do next so as to keep improving the benefit of your product.
I do agree that it is important to understand your customer's problems as a general concept and to make it a continuous process. I disagree that Sales is the place to do this. Customers are not fully forthcoming with sales and sales people are skewed in their viewpoint to make this a useful exercise. Not a lot of useful information is gleaned. This conversation is best done by the Founder and/or Marketing. The best techniques I have come across are Jobs to Be Done, Customer Development and Design Thinking. The key is to interview the customer to get a better understanding of the problem. Pete mentions these two questions, "If we offered you a way to fix your problems, would you be interested? Would that be something you’d consider purchasing?” These are called ice cream questions, they feel good but add no real value. The answer is almost always yes. Nothing learned. I think that Pete is on the right track but his execution is where he should look at the proven ways to get to the answer he is seeking.