There are two kinds of organizations – Product based & Services based.
When we refer to creating a product, there are two kind of product development philosophies, one that is sales driven/customer driven and the other product driven.
Is there a difference?
Well, not much in terms of which can yield more success. However, in both cases, it is the sheer mindset that determines if you want to build an organization that is scalable and can generate revenues for profitability.
It is important to understand that a sales-driven approach is a subset of customer-centric approach where customer perception evolve as drivers that determine what should be built and the level of customization with a higher need of flexibility.
An outside to inside approach, businesses in this quadrant aim at co-creating the product alongside customer inputs.
On the other hand, when we refer to a product driven approach, the product is first created and then businesses reach out to their customers for feedback. In this case, the Product is generally less prone to customization, flexible and follows an inside out approach.
Having said the above, does it imply that an approach is the secret ingredient of success?
An emphatic NO! In both cases, one thing that is necessary for being successful is to follow the ‘Customer First’ philosophy, i.e. your customer offering. Knowing the customer, maintaining a close relationship with them and getting the pulse of the market are absolute prerequisites.
Generally, people mistake customer driven or sales driven approaches as Customer First approach. Well, it isn’t. Customer First is the underlying principle for any product to succeed. Say, Apple or Google are product driven companies, on the other hand, companies like Sales force is sales driven.
However, in both cases customer satisfaction, identification of problems faced by the customer and listening to them for feedback & improvisation is very important. You must stay connected with the market and the end users. Giving value to Customer Service is a customer first approach. A good example is Amazon, again a product driven company!
Agility plays a vital role in being customer first. As far as product development is concerned, ‘Agile’ as a framework for product development is a very good way for building a good product.
What does Agile mean?
The dictionary meaning says, “relating to or denoting a method of project management, used especially for software development, that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans”
Agility provides an opportunity to be responsive to the needs, manage change faster and match the pace with the changing needs of the customers – again being Customer First. Sometimes, we are so ingrained with our belief of the product idea to be the ‘IDEA’, we start ignoring feedback. Great product companies that adopt a product driven approach, especially in the B2C space, can establish connect by default. This is because as a marketer, you too don up the role of an end user that helps in deeply understanding the problem you are trying to solve.
Say with Apple, Steve Jobs & Team have foreseen what their customer needs – a phone with no keypad, still they were very well connected with the end customer and not once working in silos. For a B2B product driven company especially, the risk and chances of a product being successful is less, customer first is very necessary. Creating a great B2B product requires one to have a very deep and thorough understanding of the customer’s business. Domain expertise is a must, which the team can have by virtue of the talent pool and the same can easily be obtained from the customers itself.
Agile with the help of feedback built in a part of the development philosophy strengthens the customer relationship and allows to dig deep and see the problem with a different lens. Great B2B product companies have always listened to their customers. Don’t get me wrong when I say that listening doesn’t equate customization.
We at FieldAssist emphasize on being customer first- be it the sales driven approach that we had for the last few years and now when we are moving in a product driven direction. It is only because of our customer first philosophy that we never made false promises, never made tall claims to our customers, and always stayed close to the market. In-fact this also helped us in innovating faster and staying not one but two steps ahead of our competition.
In a nutshell, these words by none other than the Father of Nation describes the belief aptly:
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.