Since the launch of our book, we have received e-mail from many businesses applying the Tuned In principles in their organization and we are always on the watch for comanies that exhibit Tuned in behavior so we can share here.
Recently, the Phoenix Business Journal mentioned the launch of ACT 2009 and something caught my eye.
"Sage CRM Solutions announced the release of its ACT 2009 software Tuesday, citing an assist from users in creating the latest version of its customer relations management program”
I was intrigued by this, so I contacted David van Toor, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Sage to help me better understand the unresolved needs they identified and the process his team followed to ensure ACT 2009 became a resonator in the marketplace.
I have been a fan of ACT since the early 1990’s and looked forward to learning how Sage could make a product that I have used for so long, significantly better. What I found out from David was their users, like me, are raving fans who are very active in sharing what they want and need.
The team started with simple questions to current users like what are the top tasks they perform in ACT? They sought out prospects (people who do not currently use ACT but fit the buyer persona profile of an ACT user). They also conducted win/loss interviews by contacting customers who recently purchased ACT and those who purchased a competitor’s product.
Win/loss is one of the most valuable exercises a company can conduct to uncover critical information about their product and they way people perceive it. About 50% of the time, customers who did not buy from you say it is not the product but the process that failed to meet the buyer's requirements.
As you can imagine, identifying places where the process breaks down leads very quickly to solutions that can increase sales without modifying the product itself (Roger Allison recently conducted a webinar for us on this topic).
What impressed me most was Sage’s focus groups were not rooms of 15 people and a facilitator verifying a new product, and having one dominant member lead all discussions, they were current buyers and potential buyers using the product while Development and the rest of the team watched.
It must have been difficult for some developers to hear their product was not so intuitive to users. However, the focus remained on solving the problems and they paid particular attention to the experience of using the product. They watched, asked questions, and identified problems. One of which was “improve Microsoft Outlook integration and database search capabilities.” So, they set out to solve this unresolved problem.
The developers were directly engaged with beta test participants and their feedback often resulted in modifications to the software within 48 hours. They created a collaborative community of existing users, potential users, along with Sage product and development team members.
Was it hard to get customers and non customers to participate? No. Sage had three times the number of participants they had hoped for.
I learned SAGE is continually researching the needs of their marketplace (small to mid-sized businesses) and will be offering a number of future solutions that meet unresolved market problems they have discovered.
The launch of ACT 2009 by all key indicators is a success and it is resonating in the marketplace.
How about you and your business? Have you had a tuned in experience? Or one that was tuned out? Has your company implemented steps to uncover a breakthrough experience for your market? Please share what your company is doing and any roadblocks you are facing with creating a reasonator. You can comment here on the blog or contact us directly.