Good Rain Shade

Advice for startups
Focus on customer pains

Focus on customer pains

Startups should focus on specific customer pains and provide a solution to solve those customer pains.  Customer pains should be things that the customer is prepared to pay money to solve.  This is advice for product management, marketing, demos, business strategy and even sales.  In fact, this is something that should be engrained into all parts of your business.  The customer is not buying your flyer, your logo, your architecture, your features, your reliability or even your features – they are buying a solution to their pains.  Yes, they may need reliability and reference architecture diagrams and more – but that is not why they are buying.  Those things just help validate the solution or make it acceptable but the pain solving is the main benefit.

Some examples of thinking in terms of customer pains

  1. During a discovery call (an initial call with the customer to uncover the customer pains) – the salesperson writes down that the customer is interested in feature x, y and z.  WRONG!
    They should be capturing the customer pains (in the customer’s own words) that are important to the customer.  At this stage, it is fine to just talk with the customer and really understand their pains and the priority of solving those pains.  If the customer asks if you can solve them, then say so.  But stay focused on the pains to make sure you have really captured all of them and understood them.
    The customer just told you what they will buy.
  2. Preparing for a demo with the customer.  Revisit the notes from the discovery call and structure the demo to talk about each pain and then how your solution solves that pain.  You can have some credibility slide if needed but the majority should be focused on the pains and their solution.
  3. Prioritizing a product road map.  Try to map every item to something that the customer would understand and ideally helps a particular customer pain.  Your product roadmap will become your release notes.  You should re-envision things like “refactoring tasks” in terms of customer pains and prioritized accordingly.
  4. Rekindling a relationship with a prospect customer where something has fallen off.  Maybe they insisted on a delay due to lack of budget until the next year or your salesperson quit or something.  If you have the customer pains well documented, you should be able to restart the conversation and it will be of interest to the customer since they have real interest in solving those pains.

Dig Dig Dig

You need to really understand the customer pains but make sure that you found the root of the pain.  If the customer says they need more efficiency in a certain task and that is the pain, make sure you ask why.  It could be a new executive pushing for better operational efficiency or new controls, it could be lack of ability to grow headcount and hire new people, it could be a seasonal time of year that is busy or many other reasons.
Here is an example; the customer tells you they need tighter controls in their security, you dig to understand why and learn they have a new executive pushing for the controls, you dig further and uncover that there was an “incident” and the previous senior management has been replaced, the new management is charged with ensuring an “incident” does not happen again.  You now know a lot more about the customer than if you had stopped at the first why.
There are many benefits to really understanding the customer pain:
  1. You will gain a better understanding of their business
  2. You will have a better conversation with the customer
  3. The customer will begin to see you as an expert in this area
  4. You will be able to talk more intelligently to future customers about this topic
  5. You may uncover new pains to solve
Lots of customers say that they “hate sales” but if you approach customer interaction from a customer pains perspective, it is a very different experience.  Who doesn’t want someone to really listen to them, understand their pains and then provide real solutions to those pains??

Tips for understanding

  1. Listen, really listen.
  2. Ask good questions.
  3. Repeat things in your own words to the customer to make sure that you have understood.
  4. Practice active listening.
Becoming a good listener is a great skill for business but also for life in general.  Practice and spend the time.
Can you list out the top 5 pains that your customers are looking to solve?  You should know them by heart.
If not, then either you weren’t listening or you haven’t been asking the right questions. 😃
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