More years ago than I care to remember, I started my career in high-pressure, “feet-on-the-street” sales. And I was trained by one of the best–Xerox, UK. Following an intense, three weeks of in-residence sales training, we were launched out in our dark suits and power ties to woo, cajole, and pressure unprepared business owners into all manner of new, this-will-save-your-business, office equipment.
What has this got to do with Prioritizing Innovation Ideas for Greater Success? Stay tuned.
One of the most important things we learned was how to probe our targets for the information that would allow us to build our watertight case for them to part with their money in exchange for a new copier or fax machine. The process employed for this in-depth need analysis was identified through the acronym SPIN—Situation, Problem, Implication, Need.
We would investigate every aspect of their document handling. Dig deep to identify issues, concerns, and pain points, leading them to illustrate, in their own words, the implication of those problems. The idea was to get them to realize in their minds the value those implications represented. And finally—creating an evidence-based need state which we alone, in that moment, could fulfill—start CLOSING!
In less than 90 minutes, we achieved what this blog’s title proposes—Prioritizing Innovation Ideas for Greater Success.
But today, rather than going door to door, you must have all that information up-front. Buyers do their own research and are far into the sales process before you, the product manufacturer (or distributor / dealer / retailer) even hears from them.
So, what I am proposing is that you turn your product development team into high-caliber sales people.
Heresy, you say! Perhaps. But at least consider turning them into “SPINers.”
As you seek direction for new product opportunities and innovation, don’t just brainstorm ideas internally or succumb to the loudest or most powerful voice in the room. Send your development team, especially designers who are trained for this, out into the field. Equip them with the knowledge and training to apply SPIN to every aspect of the user experience. Make sure they not only ask, “who, what, where, when, how,” but also delve into “why.” This is the magic word that uncovers the personal values that motivate and direct behavior. The Situation.
Teach your team how to watch and observe—not just behavior, but also the subtleties of body language and movement. Then to probe into the human-product interface and use. Video the interviews so your team can collectively examine and discuss what they see. Then ask them to itemize the issues and problems they identified. The Problem(s).
Now ask: what is the effect of each problem on the user, and seek a value for a solution. How frequently do those issues arise during use, and how does that impact the actual use and effectiveness? And just as important, how does that make the user feel? Is it a minor inconvenience, or does it rise to a level of frustration? The Implication.
Finally, what is the remedy?
The rich, evidence-based insights the SPIN method reveals and prioritizes through the perceived value of solutions will allow your product development team (as well as those responsible for building the marketing propositions) to bring to market meaningful and important innovations that deliver high value to your customers and end users.
The solution to The Need.