Respect the Marketplace: 5 Tips to Better Products

I just tweeted something that I’d like to go into more detail on. Technology firms, particularly startups, have a tendency to get too close to their product and therefore, assume that it will completely shock and awe the marketplace once they launch because…it’s a really good product. But while justified (especially if the product is good and IS groundbreaking and useful….don’t forget useful) this attitude makes your sales approach…bad. So here are five tips to keep in the front of your mind when you are planning product sales:
1) Never assume your prospect’s time is there for you to pluck. We are all getting busier daily and to assume that your target market is any different is no only disrespectful but it shows you don’t know anything about their daily lives. How then, can your solution be the right one for their organization? It can’t. If you don’t get their pain, their schedule, their issues, their lives in the sales process, your prospect will have difficulty believing that your product will have that insight built into it.

2) Build for the person that pays the bills. You might be looking for funding (and that’s fine) but building for the consumer (i.e. public) exclusively in HR Technology is a fool’s game. Candidate Experience is wildly important, but if you don’t have a tool that your USERS can appreciate, it won’t matter how many profiles you have. First create a functioning and useful backend, then make it attractive for consumers.

3) Delete dependence. No one trying out your product wants to hear an “If, then…” statement. “If we are able to get 300,000 people to sign up, THEN you will be able to search those completed profiles.” Hi, not useful. Your product should add something to the cycle or go to market complete. If every cog is dependent on another cog to work, you’ve just created a machine that is unwieldy and a pain in the butt to operate.

4) Integration matters. I am not talking about technical integrations, which are still important but sun-setting. I mean process integration. Why is Facebook so popular? Because it’s part of whatever we do every day. It’s easy to access on our phones, always on via desktop and simple to navigate. I’ve said it to every single startup I’ve consulted with and it continues to be an important part of product design. If you can make someone integrate your site/app/process/software into their morning routine, you’ve won (which incidentally is why email marketing is still such an important part of product marketing).

5) You…ask them. Not them, the consultants. Not them, the conference speakers. Not them, the bloggers. Them, the actual target users of your product. If you come from another discipline (read: not HR/Recruiting) you may not be completely equipped to build a product for HR Pros and Recruiters right off the bat. And frankly, it’s arrogant to think so. You might have a great idea, you might understand the candidate experience, you may have read a lot about it, but unless you’ve DONE the work, you need to take a big old dose of “sit under that tree and WATCH what I do all day.” Then you try it. Then see if your solution is actually a solution after all.