One of the most important aspects for a vendor is to understand what the customer wants. Sometimes the message between the customer and vendor can get distorted as it passes from sales to product/project managers to engineers. It’s important that the vendor is knowledgeable and experienced enough to ensure the customer gets exactly what he wants. But what’s the best way to deliver this message?
Recently, I was doing an online presentation for a customer. I generally start with a PowerPoint presentation to provide a high-level overview of what the product is all about and then progress to a product demo.
It was like turning on a light switch. When I started the demo, the customer interrupted me to advise me … “now you’re talking”. In other words, now they could see something real. I went on to explain a feature that enables you to create different user types, i.e. to be able to define users with different access privileges. For example, a customer service representative will have read-only access, a subscriber will only have access to his or her own account information, etc. Additionally, an event log is generated every time an individual user does something in the product, i.e. the product tracks everything that the user does.
What happened next surprised me. The customer asked me to pause. Huh? Then the customer told me that they wanted to give me a round of applause. They went on to explain that they currently had no way of tracking what each user does on their systems and that this feature would greatly enhance their business systems. At the end of the meeting I was informed that there was high-fiving and cheering.
It was great fun but the moral of the story? It’s vital to have a real product to show, rather than just talking about features on a product roadmap. I had mentioned the users/user type settings during the presentation part of the meeting, but it was not until it the demo that the message was driven home. I’ve always been a great believer in the phrase “a picture tells a thousand words,” and I think the same applies to a demo. The demo not only helped us identify the customer’s issues, but it also highlighted how we could meet their needs.
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