Jobs vs features


One of the best conference keynotes I’ve seen so far this year was delivered last week by Bob Moesta at the CEB Sales and Marketing Summit.  Bob is an engineer by training, and has used his unique problem-solving skills to impact products, positioning and market share for a wide variety of companies and brands – from laser-guided missiles to candy bars.

He spent much of his 45 minutes talking not about product features but customer jobs.  In his experience, features really don’t matter as much as the “job that needs to be done”.  So if you understand the job your product was “hired” for, you unlock the ability to position the product or service’s core value.

Many companies try to increase sales by adding new features.  Loading up the product with “more value”.  Bob’s key point was that all the value you need to increase sales might already be there.

In other words, it’s not always about what you’re selling, but how you sell it that really matters.

What job does your product or service achieve?  Not from your perspective, but from your customer’s perspective?  Keep asking “why” (why does that matter, and why does THAT matter, etc.) until you get to what really matters for the customer.  That, most likely, is the job.

If you can’t definitively answer this question for your own product or service, go talk to your customers and prospects!  Observe behavior, ask them why they did (or didn’t do) something.  Get into their motivations, their psyche, their emotions around a particular challenge or need or job.

Most important, though, is your ability to differentiate between features and the job they’re built for.  The latter is far more important, far more powerful as a selling and differentiating tool.