"When you think about your customers, don't think about them buying your products, think about them making progress." Bob Moesta, architect of the Jobs-to-be-Done Framework
You can observe this philosophy in action the next time when you are buying a couch (making progress towards a more comfortable life), or a cup of coffee (making progress in the day by feeling more awake).
Hidden in this is a lesson for salespeople — that it's their job to help people get from point A to point B. But this is a framework that even UX researchers and designers also use when solving the eternal problem of building simple, intuitive products to solve complex problems.
Are there any other similarities between Sales and UX — two fields that seem at first brush quite distinct from each other? In many organizations, you rarely find people from these teams talking closely to each other or overlapping in their day-to-day work. It was quite a revelation for us too when we found that if you look closely, both these roles are quite similar in terms of skills, process, and most importantly: to succeed, they both need to have a deep sense of customer empathy.
All good sales folks believe in making the conversation all about the customer, their problems, and what they are struggling with. This helps to show that you truly care about their success. So, as a salesperson, don’t try to rattle out how your product is right for them. Rather, focus on uncovering how you can solve their deep pain point.
Researchers represent the voice of customers in their organization. But while trying to understand them, it can be tough to remain unbiased. It gets even tougher when you have had a couple of interviews and usability studies under your belt. So, a seasoned researcher practices the discipline of not leading the customer during the interview. They ask open ended questions, observe them in their natural environment, actively interact, and gather the customer’s real (oftentimes untold) feedback to truly understand them.
Asking the right questions and making it all about the customer helps salespeople create the right proposal that articulates the problem really well (which helps to build trust!) and outlines the benefits that show the transformation one can achieve with their product. A very similar process helps a UX researcher peel back the onion and uncover the deeper insights into customer behavior.
The core principle of sales is not to confuse people with information overload, which might trigger their anxiety about your product and push them away. First, address their objections and concerns and then, slowly move them from not believing in the product to the take-my-money stage. It’s all about showcasing to customers how they can make real progress to move from point A to B using your product.
A similar philosophy applies to UX design. Product teams working without input from users might create a product with feature bloat. Then, it is the job of the UX researcher to uncover user issues while conducting usability tests and help create that simple user flow. The moment someone starts thinking "where do I click next?" or "How can I see more details," you've lost a potential active user, just like a salesperson would lose a lead. And that's why UX researchers should focus on driving the product roadmap based on customer insights.
To put it simply, “There is a big difference between making a simple product and making a product simple.” Des Traynor, Co-founder of Intercom
UX and Sales are also similar in the iterative approach they use to operate. Both refine and improve a product, process, idea, or initiative multiple times to achieve user and/or business goals.
A good UX design is never done and dusted. It’s a living project that incorporates the feedback loop from users, new research, insights, and testing to consistently improve. Early testing helps you catch problems before they are beyond repair. For example, in a shopping app, you might discover that people are not able to identify where the cart button is, or they are not prompted to check their address before checkout which might lead to wrong deliveries.
The feedback that you collect can help you identify use cases you might have missed and validate your assumptions that might not be actually true.
There are frameworks and methodologies to conduct sales but there is no set formula or fixed set of words to say to guarantee a sale. It needs continuous tweaking in the process as it depends on changing circumstances of the organization, the market, and the individuals involved.
Like other functions, you need both Sales and UX teams to bring their ace game to delight your customers. A good salesperson understands the customers, keeps multiple touchpoints, and sells products that will deliver real value to their customers. Similarly, a good UX researcher uncovers deep insights about the customer during the early stages of product development to ensure the right product is built.
So here are some questions for you — Do your sales & UX teams talk to each other and exchange notes? If not, how can you facilitate a collaboration to build & sell great products? Send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear your perspective, stories, and ideas.