Actually, I am astonished at the lack of customer development I witness in large corporations. I am sure they do their best to focus on customer services, thus keeping the customers as happy as they can be. However, they fail miserably in increasing their sales or expanding their customer base.

Because of the Digital Revolution, many corporations face steep competition from small and agile businesses. These new entrepreneurs know how to talk to their potential customers, how to find exactly what they need and how to sell their products or services. Despite the lack of established processes they achieve growth of 15-30 % per week. How many large enterprises do you know who achieve such growth?

The secret lies in the successful practice of customer development techniques. These techniques are easy to learn, though not so easy to implement. Founders and employees alike need to go through thorough training and constant practice in order to achieve optimal results.

Let me explain briefly what customer development consists of.

The first step is to find out what is the real customers’ problem. You should be looking for the pain they are experiencing, the needs they have. You cannot find out about their problem with the use of feedback forms. You will need to set up personal interviews.

In the course of the interviews encourage your customers to talk about their frustrations. They will come back to you with phrases like, ‘I hate…’, ‘I cannot stand…’, ‘I am so frustrated…’. This is a warning sign that you should pay more emphasis on the specific problems they are describing. So, dig deeper into their experiences.

The next stage is to find out how deep the problem is. Have they taken any steps to solve this problem? If they have not, then the problem is not too painful; hence, they will not pay enough for the solution. On the other hand, if they tried to solve it, albeit unsuccessfully, then you stand good chances to sell your product to them.

The customers will not tell you what product they need. The business will decide how to construct a new product or service that solves the current customers’ problems. The process does not need to be long but it does need the full collaboration of the customers.

Co-Creation is the right attitude for modern businesses. The organisation should not take any steps without consulting with the customers. Any new feature, any new decision should be tested on the existing customer base. Corporations are very lucky to have millions of customers that will help them test the new products or services.

The above process can be automated for very large enterprises. In these cases, the use of analytics is crucial.

By the time the product is launched, it will have been bought, it will have been recommended, and it will have been used by happy customers. These same customers will come back for more and more. Guaranteed!

In a sense, marketing is not just about pushing or pulling any messages. It is about finding out the customer’s problem, solving it, and offering the solution to the right person at the right price. This is a process that should be implemented ad infinitum.

I am thinking of setting up a workshop in Leicester on Customer Development and how to exceed your sales targets without employing a larger sales force. Let me know, if you are interested.