Do people want features?
This may be familiar to those who are familiar with SPIN Selling or related concepts, but now that I've read the book I see these issues showing up over and over again. Sellers (taken broadly) focus on features and techniques, and then they are disappointed / upset that customers don't find these things interesting. Or worse, customers reject the effort entirely.
Some examples from this morning:
- A tweet from the current KM World 2010 conference:
danielleganza: If, after training, users still do what you don't want them to your training was too complicated or you didn't do a good job of it. #KMW10
- A discussion with a friend, where a software company focuses on the features and complains when users don't know about the features. My thought is that the users are interested in fixing problems or creating new capabilities, and they don't see the connection to the features.
- I visited a website to learn more about a product that just won an award, and I couldn't figure out what it is that the product does - besides that it's some kind of web service. Of course, there are many examples of this. At least tell me what problem you think you are solving!
These and many others point to a core problem: the focus on features, rather than on why in the world I would want those features. And to learn that, you need to get to know me or my business. That is the big learning behind SPIN Selling: you can't sell benefits if the customer / client / colleague hasn't told you what they need. It's not a benefit if you THINK they need it - it's only a potential advantage until the connections are made.
This brief thought leads me in two directions. One is the set of questions Goldratt's Necessary and Sufficient Questions on Information Technology:
- What is the power of the software? (That's usually easy to answer.)
- What is the problem that this software is fixing? How, exactly, will the software resolve the problem?
- What are the (old) ways of doing business that are in place to deal with the problem?
- What new ways of doing business must be created, now that the software is being implemented?
- Understanding these old and new rules, does the software need to be changed?
- How can we make the change to take advantage
I've talked about these many times before. These questions get away from the features of the technology (question 1) and into the problems that the technology is supposed to solve and how to modify the technology or the implementation to best solve the problem. They come up frequently for me.
The second thing is is Simon Sinek's TED Talk on How great leaders inspire action. The short version is that great leaders talk about why they are doing something. They create a vision that inspire. Others talk about the what and the how - they describe features and processes - and these just don't inspire action and change like the why discussions do.
[Photo: "quantum ripples in chaos" by Martin Sharman]
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