February 24, 2018

Mistake #2 – It Solves a Problem, But it’s Not Important to the Buyer

Several years ago, I was helping a company that had just launched a new product to the market, but was having a difficult time closing sales. They had identified a market opportunity where the target “user” had a significant challenge and they were looking for solutions to solve it. There were many potential users of the solution and there were no real competitors at that time. On the surface, this sounds like an excellent market opportunity.

So why were they having a problem selling this solution? The reason was that the business executive (buyer) who could make the purchasing decision for the solution did not feel the impact of this problem. So they had no reason to approve the purchase.

I have seen multiple companies face this problem. What seemed like an obvious market opportunity in reality wasn’t because the person that had to pay didn’t feel the pain and it wasn’t a priority in their overall business objectives.

How do you avoid this problem?

  1. When you are researching the market, don’t just speak to the user that is having the obvious problem, but also speak with the buyer and anyone that can influence that potential buying decision.
  2. When speaking with these other influencers/buyers, make sure to gain a clear understanding of how the user’s pain impacts them. If they can’t identify or express any clear impact, that should be a red flag to you.
  3. If this situation occurs, you need to dig deeper to see if you can help uncover a clear and urgent impact on the buyer and influencers. If you still can’t uncover a compelling business impact on these parties, this is most likely not a good opportunity to pursue.

Summary: In a typical B2B situation, you need to speak with users, mid-level managers, executive management and other influencers to make sure you understand how each are impacted by the problem you are trying to solve. In a B2C situation, many cases, you only need to understand the needs of one person as they are the buyer and user, but there are situations where the buyer, user and influencers are different, so the same concept applies.


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