Lessons Learned: When you do not properly establish the value propositions for your customers vs. your users.

A few months ago, our team were demoing our myClin product when we noticed something we should have recognized a while ago. It happened about twenty minutes into our pitch when our potential customer leaned in and finally got interested. It was kind of a shock! Not only because it was almost at the end of our presentation, but also because it took us so long to learn what was happening.

First we thought it showed our messaging was off. Especially if a potential buyer took twenty minutes to be impressed. This is not a magic show. There is no prestige in software product development. If your customer is not interested in the usefulness of your product offering within the first few minutes, you may have a tougher time getting the sale. The messaging was only a small part of a deeper mistake we made years ago.

At a critical point in our past we changed the look, feel, and ergonomics of our product without conducting a more thorough investigation of our user profiles. Most importantly, the different value propositions for our customers vs. our users.

With myClin our product is in that weird limbo where the bulk majority of our users are not the people who are the authority in buying the software. Also, the authority, those with purchasing power, do not necessarily experience the same value as the bulk majority of our users. So, while our pitch was showing these customers all the fantastic things it could do for the users working for them, it was not showing them a tangible value from their point of view.

The mistake clearly showed we overlooked that what was really valuable to our purchasing customer, who are clinical trial managers, administrators and executives, was buried in our product, and, as a result, our pitch as an, “Oh, you may also like…” kind of scenario. This made us all realize that we were missing a truly tangible value proposition for those who purchase the software.

The product we develop helps teams conducting clinical trials, distribute information about the drug, in a secure environment that can be audited for clinical compliance. Normally these clinical trial managers do not interact with the content that generates actionable data for the trial, however they find value in the actionable data generated. Simply put, they find more value in the analysis of the content, oversight of those generating and interacting with the content, but not the content itself. The content itself is primarily valuable to their clinical trial teams and contractors that use it for communications and document tracking during the study.

If we had properly specified the value propositions for the different user profiles a few years ago, when we redesigned our core functionality, it may not have taken as long for us to notice. While this mistake was not fatal, it created sometime crippling problems that we could have avoided. It would have certainly cut down our sales cycle and given our business development team a better foundation to build their strategy. It also would have led us to structure our functional code and data much differently. At this point we have to find workarounds and retrofits, or in some areas, start form scratch. All of which adds more effort to production time.

The lesson learned is that it is so very important to identify the value propositions for all of your product’s user experience profiles. Identifying the tangible value of your user as well as your customer can help put your product be in a better position for sales and consumption. It also should be noted that it is never too late to do such a thing. In fact, now that we have recognized and accepted this mistake, we will be constantly evaluating the value of our features, across all of our user profiles, every time we begin production of our release candidates.