Emma Maguire (née Campbell)
August 6, 2022
More businesses are making the shift from prioritising product features to being more solutions-focused.
This approach of focusing on the outcome the user is trying to achieve, rather than concentrating on the feature that enables the outcome, drives greater user adoption of your agritech solution.
Understanding the difference between a product and a solution is vital to developing a robust sales strategy that truly delivers to the user. However, this does mean reinventing the traditional approach to producing products.
This article shares the benefits of shifting business thinking to highlight the end consumer and how to successfully implement this solutions-focused transition within organisations.
Being a product-focused company is entrenched in the product itself – the design, features and functionality. It applies an inside-out approach which involves promoting aspects of the product to buyers to convince them they need it.
Being a solutions-focused company is the opposite as you apply an outside-in approach. It begins with prioritising customer outcomes and finishes with a solution that meets those users’ needs.
If you were to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, would you be interested in buying the product, or would you be convinced by what the product can help you achieve?
“What the customer buys and considers value is never a product. It is always utility, that is, what a product or service does for them”
– Peter Drucker
For example, a farmer isn’t sold on the hardware itself but on the insights the hardware can generate for them, which they can then apply to their business. Your selling story becomes more powerful when you talk about what those data insights can provide your users (the benefits), rather than focusing on the hardware features.
Users want results and to know your product will offer solutions that will solve their problems, all while being simple and enjoyable to use. As a result of this, your product will have:
To become more solutions-focused, you first need to get to know your users. This step is not to be underrated, as it provides a wealth of information you can utilise to differentiate and customise your product to your users’ needs.
Understanding your users helps you put aside what you want them to think and allows you to discover what their problems and motivations actually are. A solutions-based approach won’t work unless you can hone in on your buyers and align your customers’ needs with your offering.
Putting a user research plan in place will provide a foundation to validate new ideas and test concepts as you work through them. If your resources don’t allow for a comprehensive user research plan, at a minimum, we’d recommend the observation method. Observing your users helps you gain insight into how your users engage with your product or new feature. This is an impactful solution for you to learn what is or isn’t working for your users.
When you’re problem-solving, it’s often easier to come up with new feature ideas instead of taking time first to understand the actual user problem. Unfortunately, this can lead to feature bloat, when feature after feature is added to the product to solve an issue. The combination of added features often doesn’t work together as intended, making products more difficult to use.
For example, a grower wants to know when their water tank levels are low, so they can take action to ensure crops are kept alive. What action does a user need to take, and how can we help them make the decision? There are various ways to help solve this problem, such as displaying the weather for the week to check for a forecast of rain or telling the user which nearby tank they can pump water from to top it up. Had we only looked at this from a product-focused perspective, we might have only given the user an alert when tank levels dropped to a certain percentage.
Working backwards and understanding the users’ goals resets the focus to not only deliver a product but a solution.
Failing is uncomfortable yet necessary for transformation and expansion. This doesn’t necessarily mean failing with a final solution in the market, but as ideas are generated at concept stages.
New perspectives can challenge traditional thinking, but the ‘fail fast’ approach encourages teams to explore new ideas, innovate, and pivot quickly when ideas do not work out as expected.
Teams often get stuck in the discussion stage for too long. There are plenty of ideas but no execution. Making a start by jotting ideas on paper and brainstorming is a great way to find clarity on what it is you do and don’t want.
When you’re a solutions-focused company, you will have a more holistic view and unlock multiple ways to solve one problem. However, if you aren’t willing to fail fast, you’re limiting yourself from finding a solution that exceeds expectations.
Although we have emphasised the importance of understanding your users, there still needs to be a balance between the user and business needs. If you do everything solely focused on the user, you can lose sight of your company’s vision and risk building a product that is not cohesive in solving your users’ problems.
Feature bloat, as mentioned, is often driven by companies listening to every user’s needs and adding features as the needs arise. However, this approach can create an unintended negative experience over time.
Stepping back and looking at the root cause of problems will help you gain a broader perspective and open opportunities on how your solution can create an impact for your users and your business.
Sometimes a user request can be an edge case that may only affect 5% of your user base, so it’s essential to consider if the problem is something you want to solve and how it could impact the other 95% of users.
Whenever there is a change in how an organisation operates, there are challenges. In this case, refocusing from a product-focused company to a solutions-focused company requires a shift in thinking. This will push your team out of their comfort zone and challenge how they’ve approached their work for a long time.
Teams will want to know why and where the organisation is headed with this transition. To implement this change more seamlessly, set clear company goals and communicate this with your team. Setting objectives for each individual to achieve this team-wide goal will also help shift their attitude towards this and make their role more purposeful.
Leading your team effectively through this transition period means prioritising their needs, having tools in place to facilitate this disruption, and including them in your vision.
At Bo Studio, we consult with you and set up internal processes to ensure solutions-focused thinking is kept at the forefront within teams. Get in touch with us regarding how we can support your business through this change.Get in touch
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