I just read an article, one sentence struck me, “Value is created when you enable the customer to take the actions you want them to take.”

To tell you the truth, that statement bothers me, but it in reflecting, I thought there is a variant to that statement:

Value is created when we enable the customer to take the actions they need to take!

What’s the difference between the two sentences?

It’s really a matter of perspective. The first focuses primarily on us, getting the outcomes we want. Clearly, the actions we want the customer to take is to buy what we are selling, to produce a purchase order. After all, that’s what we are measured on.

But does that create value for the customer? Perhaps, but it’s not clear and probably not clear to the customer, since it really focuses on the value we want out of the deal. Even worse, imagine the customer facing several sales people with the same goal, Getting the customer to take the actions the sales people want.

This doesn’t strike me as helping the customer very much, it’s probably much more confusing–and after all, the customer is less concerned about what we want and more concerned what they want.

The second statement focuses on the customer, but with a different twist, it focuses on what they need, not just what they want.

We only create value for the customer by helping them achieve their goals, solve problems, address opportunities. Sometimes, we have to disrupt the customer’s thinking. They may not recognize they need to change, or there is a better way to achieve their goals. We create great value in inciting them to change.

The magic is the slight change in wording, is that it focuses us on the customer, what they need to achieve, and how we enable them to do so. It captures our shared interests in once statement.

Again, we create value when we enable the customer to take the actions they need to take to achieve their goals!