You’ve spent months (or maybe years) developing a great new product or service. It’s ready, you’re sure of it. Then you launch it, and there’s a promising flurry of interest. But suddenly, sales stall. In the end, the uptake just isn’t what you anticipated. What went wrong?
It’s hard for inventors to see why everyone wouldn’t want their great new gadget. We hear it all the time. “What do they mean they don’t like my product? They just must be too thick to understand how fantastic it is!” So your sales team goes back out and
explains it again. S-l-o-w-l-y. But still to no avail. Next, you try to find out what’s wrong with the sales team, or with what they’re doing. Sales starts pointing the finger at marketing, or customer service, or shipping. None of them seem to be the problem, either. Finally, you decide to call in some outside help. You need to know, post haste, where things are going off the rails.
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, it’s a great start, for sure. But even if your consultant finds you’ve made some mis-steps, that
doesn’t explain why some people bought, and some didn’t. What you need to look at is the gap. What’s the difference between these two groups? How do they see your product differently? Did you do something for the customers that you didn’t do for the rejecters? Are likers fundamentally different people from haters?
Unfortunately many companies forget to take this important step in their investigations. Whether it’s win-loss analysis, user/non-user studies, or over-under explorations, management teams frequently take on this exercise by half measures. In the words of one entrepreneur we met, “I just want to know about the customers that discontinued. I don’t care why the other ones have stayed.” Let’s re-state what he said: “I’d rather spend money on understanding people who don’t want what I’m selling, than on figuring out what’s the difference between them, and the people who do”. Does his approach make sense to you?
If you’re trying to get to the bottom of stalling sales or unfavourable uptake, don’t forget to look at both sides of the story. You’ll be
glad you did.
Listening to your customers (and non-customers),
Megann and Steve