Is it OK if You Lose Customers Because of the Evolution of Your Product?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 @ 10:01 AM

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Did you ever look for something you haven't used in quite a while, only to be dismayed when you couldn't find it?  Where could it be?  Did you lose it?  Did the cleaners throw it away?  Was it stolen?  Did you tuck it away somewhere, but can't remember where?

Did you ever lose a long-time customer?  Did it happen overnight or was it a long time in coming?  Did you try to save them?  Were they savable?

One of the inevitable facts of selling is that the Law of Sales is much like the Law of Gravity.  "What goes up must come down" loosely translates to "Who you sell will eventually go away."  The only question is whether that will be days, weeks, months, years or decades from now.  

In 1990, Objective Management Group (OMG) began selling what would eventually become an elite, world-class suite of sales force evaluation and sales candidate assessment tools.  We helped companies through third-party resellers who would eventually be called partners.  We started with 6 charter partners, all of whom remained active until last week when 1 of them made the decision not to continue with us after 25 years.

Partners come and go.  For the last 15 years, the number of sales consultancies we have partnered with has averaged around 150 partners worldwide.  So why would a long-time, loyal partner or customer go away?

In this case, it's evolution.

Companies evolve. Products evolve. Customers evolve.

However, when companies, products and customers do not evolve together, there is an opportunity for a competitor to swoop in and fill a void.  And here is the million dollar question:  Is that OK?

Maybe.

There is a fine line between leading and listening.  Of course, you want to listen to your customers and provide them with win-win solutions.  At the same time, you can't stop evolving because a customer does not want to join you on that journey.

For example, suppose a printing equipment manufacturer had made the complete transition from mechanical printing to digital printing and one large customer wanted to continue printing with mechanical equipment. While the manufacturer saw the coming trends, technology, promised efficiencies and new opportunities, the customer was married to his mechanical equipment and didn't want to make the investment in new digital equipment.  Does the manufacturer listen to the large customer and slow its own evolution, or do they allow that one large customer to leave, while continuing to lead the way to the future?  And if the manufacturer did listen and slow down, how long would it be before the customer went bankrupt and the manufacturer no longer had the lead over their competitors?

OMG is committed to continuing to create, innovate and provide amazing, insightful, powerful, timely, accurate and predictive evaluations and assessments for sales forces and leadership teams.  This isn't some sort of marketing slogan either.  This is what we have been doing every day, all day, since 1990.  Selling has changed dramatically in the past 7 years and our evaluations and assessments have had to evolve as well.  For example, some of the many things that we have added or enhanced include:

  • Social Selling proficiency
  • CRM proficiency
  • Inside Sales
  • Lead Gen
  • Appointment Setting
  • Intrinsic Motivation and How Intrinsics are Motivated
  • The Buyer Journey
  • Enhanced Sales Process
  • Ideal Roles
  • Ramp up Time
  • Longevity
  • Sales Posturing
  • Sales Messaging
  • Sales Leadership Effectiveness
  • Sales Management Effectiveness
  • Pipeline Analysis
  • Modification of our 21 Sales Core Competencies
  • Perfect Fit Analysis
  • Much, much more.

It's disappointing when a partner isn't willing to take the next step into the future.  At the same time, when partners stay and applaud our work, it validates that we are doing the right things, going down the right path and leading the way. The many consultants who email, wanting to partner with us because of what we are doing, further validates our actions.

Will you attract more customers than you will lose or will you lose more customers than you will attract?  Will you suffer in the short-term, but prosper over the long haul or will you achieve a short-term gain at the expense of long-term results?

Think about all of the customers who moved to Apple because Apple knew what people would want to have.  And think of all of the people who left Microsoft and Windows until they innovated and introduced the Surface Tablet and Windows 10.

Innovate, evolve, push, lead and perfect your life's work.  It won't be right for everyone at every moment, but that's just the validation you need that you are doing it right.  Customers may leave when they aren't happy with your service or your perceived value and that needs to be addressed.  But when they leave because they can't or don't want to keep up, it means that you are doing the right things.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Apple, CRM Application, Windows, innovation, microsoft

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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