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Buyer Needs, a Dog and a 2,700 Year-Old Greek Guy

November 13, 2015 | By John Grozier

  • We work with clients to develop, message, target and sell services that address the buyer needs of other businesses
  • Companies lose focus on buyer needs when they “talk the talk” about being buyer-focused, but stray towards what they want to build
  • Staying needs-based means maintaining relentless focus on buyers and their needs

Let’s jog your memory a bit. Many childhood stories are based on Aesop’s Fables, a collection of short tales compiled more than 2,700 years ago. Perhaps you once received a copy  of the book as a gift or studied it at school.  One fable I came across the other day reminded me of a few recent consulting projects and workshops: “The Dog and its Reflection.”

The really short version: This tale is about a dog with a bone in its mouth that sees his reflection in the water while crossing a log. Thinking that the “other dog” has a bigger bone, he drops what he has in his mouth to snatch the bigger one. The message of this tale can go in many philosophical directions, but the one I like is about focus – and, for this blog post, a focus on buyer needs.

We work with clients every day that are trying to develop, message, target and sell products and services that address the buyer needs of other businesses.

So, we have a “bone,” focus and buyer needs – now what?

There are a couple of ways to think about developing and maintaining this focus on needs, and to council our clients to focus on the buyer. If you are looking for ways to find buyers with similar needs, my colleague Rachel Young wrote a great blog post titled “Audience Framework – Who’s the Buyer?” on audience discovery. Once you have your targets in mind, read Pat McAnally’s post on a persona prioritization exercise/process – “A How-To Lesson: Figuring Out What's Top of Mind for a Persona.” If you want to know how to talk to those buyers once you know who they are, read Erin Provey’s “The Secret to Customer Centricity.” Christina McKeon’s recent post on becoming a buyer expert has a number of salient points as well.

Where we see companies losing that focus is when they “talk the talk” about being buyer-focused, trotting along with a meaty bone, but then stray too easily towards what they want to build, message or sell – the enticement of that illusory bigger bone. They start well intentioned but find the irresistible force to talk about the cool, innovative things that they could build, message or sell. On the surface, it looks good, but from the buyer’s point of view, the sustenance (the need-filling part) is missing.

Staying needs-based means maintaining relentless focus. It means continually asking yourself during design, segmenting and messaging, “What does this buyer have a need for, or a need to do?” or “What am I doing that fills that need?” Not “What product/service that I am building?” or “How do I want to message that offering?” Being buyer-centric means being focused on buyer needs. Despite what you might hope, buyers don’t usually have a need your specific offering (or at least not a need they’re currently aware of), but they might have a need for what your offering can do for them. 

Staying on course with buyer needs requires that relentless focus and maybe even someone who provides the structure that consistently answers the question, “What need does this solve?” SiriusDecisions has the research, tools and consulting offerings to help if you find if you need to improve that ability to focus.

Additionally, to help you outperform the competition, we've explored the top challenges of b-to-b leaders and mapped customized assets to help fuel your business success. Successful tactics can also be learned from these outstanding organizations on how they have adopted SiriusDecisions best practices, strategic frameworks and models, and research data to help drive growth and alignment between sales, marketing and product to outperform the competition.

 

John Grozier

John Grozier has been at the forefront of some of the leading enterprise software products and companies throughout his 20+ year career.  He has lead teams across the disciplines of product and solution marketing, product management, product strategy, and operations.  He is passionate about helping companies leverage technology and business process expertise to create value for customers, and to do it at scale.  Throughout his career, he has worked in global roles that drove product releases, processes, and strategies that have guided companies to significant market share gains.

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