Innovation driven sales professionals master Jobs To Be Done interviews

Interview with microphone

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Figuring out the jobs to be done for your customer is a listening game. Starting with interviews where your customers lay out the landscape. So which interview format and questions do you need in your toolbox to succeed.

How are jobs to be done interviews are different

Understanding customer needs is the foundation for consultative selling. So what is new? Classic consultative selling focus on understanding your customers’ needs. Where your contribution is to understand details in WHAT they plan to buy. To make sure your offering matches their intent.

The jobs to be done thinking gravitate around WHY your customers plan to buy. And HOW they are buying. An idea tied to methodologies for articulating customer decision journeys. With the main difference you stay focused on WHY and HOW rather than WHAT a customers buy.

In jobs to be done interviews your focus on triggers along your customers’ decision journeys. Dividing the journey in distinct steps and what drives customer actions. Decoupled from your solutions. An interview model allowing you to find jobs defining opportunities. Generating a large list of needs at first. With sharp enough feedback to sort out the defining element in each step later. This post will support you in formulating questions to exploit.

The structure for your interviews

A jobs to be done interview map customer insights on to step in a customer’s decision journey

  1. A broader scouting for information before running a formalized project.
  2. A more focused search for options and solutions
  3. Aspects driving customer behaviors around the decision and point of purchase.
  4. How customers use your product once purchased
  5. What define final customer satisfaction.

Find the feelings triggering the journey

The first step in a customer’s journey is to browse or look for information in a passive way. Information about companies out there. Information about what peer customers are doing. Getting up to speed on main market trends. And solutions to consider.

Questions suitable in this phase are

  • Which stakeholders brought up the subject first (end-user, operational stakeholder and decision makers)?
  • What triggered them to start looking?
  • What were you looking for at this stage?
  • Which facts resonated the most with what you were looking for?
  • Which topic did you decide to postpone?
  • Which emotions characterize this phase?

Capture customer’s critical considerations

The second step on the journey is where your customers are active in penetrating a subject. Your customer have started a formal project. A process designed to make the decision options clear. And to secure supportive facts for each option. Progress on customer side expected to meet established project time-lines.

Questions suitable to ask about this phase are:

  • Which questions represent strategic choices for your business?
  • Which alternatives did you look at?
  • How did you select what to look deeper into?
  • Which factors did guide your priorities?
  • Which stakeholders have a say in guiding your project?
  • How long time did you get to execute this phase?

Penetrate what shape the Point of Purchase

The third and perhaps most critical step is the point of purchase. How your customers decide between available options. Who are the stakeholders in the decision making process. The underlying strategies and business objectives shaping the customer agenda.

Questions to penetrate here are

  • What is critical in your decision making?
  • Which business outcome do you want to buy?
  • Which decision parameters have the biggest impact on your decisions?
  • Which aspect of our engagement add most value to your decision making?

Penetrate how customers use your offering

The fourth step in understanding your customer’s journey is about how they use your offering. After all this why they hire you to solve for them. Where the expectation is you enable an improvement in business outcomes.

Questions to penetrate here are:

  • How is our offering used today to support your business?
  • How well do our offerings do the job for you?
  • How can our offerings support you in delivering even better results?
  • Who in your team could give us the best feedback on what we should consider improving?

Close out by penetrating what drives customer satisfaction

Your best customers are the one you already have. Satisfied customers continue to award you the job. The final step in the journey is about penetrating the genuine drivers for satisfaction

Questions to penetrate here are

  • Which aspects of our offering define your satisfaction?
  • Do you see any remaining jobs you consider over-, under- or unserved?
  • How satisfied are you today?
  • Where do you see opportunities for us to improve?
  • Which part of our value contribute most to your satisfaction (sales, delivery, support)?

Questions for you and your team

This blogpost is very question centric in itself. What you can consider penetrating before you start is:

  1. Who in our team is best to lead our customer interviews – pick a strong listener.
  2. Which customers do we think can give us the best input – high trust required to get honest input.
  3. Which opportunity do we want to penetrate first – pick an opportunity where you can test this model in small scale and get early wins.
  4. Which additional customers do we need to interview – to get a balanced market perspective.

Additional reading suggestions 

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