I’ve met a few CEOs lately who are having an affair. They gladly confess that they’re madly in love… with their product. They tell me how their product will change the world. That it’s the next iWatch or Uber. They love their product soooo much. If only they could find more customers to love it too.
Here’s the problem: These CEOs are so closely entangled in a “product relationship” that they can’t see their market clearly. They frequently take advice from company insiders – VPs and investors – who have love blindness too. Things get worse when customers shower their sweetheart with praise. They forget that early-stage customers are a notoriously poor indicator for the rest of the marketplace.
But who can really blame these lovelorn CEOs, especially when they’ve been with their company a long time. Any one of us who is so close to the business would likely fall into the same love trap.
Lower your Product Libido
While there is no easy solution to increasing product sales, the opportunity starts by seeing your product clearly. Once you see the blemishes as the market sees them, you’ll be one step closer to success.
When working with clients, I frequently find groups of frontline employees who all point to the same glaring issues, yet are reluctant to broach them with their CEO. You can’t blame people who are too often labeled as “complainers.” I suppose it’s human nature for CEOs to defend their love, no matter what others see.
Let them Say the Truth
If you truly want to solve your sales problem, start listening to your employees on the frontline. Listen – really listen – to what they have to say (and make them feel comfortable doing so). Recognize that your personal lens is naturally flawed. Others can see what you can’t.
Then, pick up the phone. Call a few prospects where you recently lost deals. Simply ask what went wrong. After, visit your customers to find out how they’re really using the product, rather than what they originally bought it for. And consider getting external counsel, even from a friend outside your industry, who can provide an unfiltered perspective.
But whatever you do, stop defending your hottie. Open your eyes.
They have pimples too.