What job did you hire that product to do?

Here is an idea that may change the way you sell – and buy. 

Customers don’t simply buy products and services, they ‘hire’ them to do a job. Therefore it’s not enough just to understand customers – we must also understand the jobs they need to be done. 

This is the argument put forward by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen in Competing Against Luck – The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

Christensen developed the theory of disruptive innovation in 1995, and has since written 12 books on the topic of innovation in business.

Recently, however, after decades of research, Christensen and his co-authors on Competing Against Luck came to an important conclusion: our long-held belief, that understanding the customer is the secret to successful innovation in business, is wrong. 

Christensen explains a ‘job’ as the progress that a person is trying to make in a particular circumstance. That ‘circumstance’ is intrinsic to their definition of a job. A job can only be defined, and a successful solution created, relative to the specific context in which it arises. When we buy a product or service, we are ‘hiring’ a way of getting that job done. 

For example, let’s say you are the owner of a business that wants to grow but is struggling to keep up with demand. You have poured a lot of time and money into the business and are desperate to see it succeed. The underlying ‘circumstance’ is the need to justify your investment, while also keeping customers and staff happy so that the business is sustainable. Therefore, your ‘jobs’ might be to find a way to take more customer calls, boost flagging staff morale, or fill last-minute product orders.

There are a number of products and services you could ‘hire’ to solve each of these jobs. Some will fit the underlying circumstances better than others. If you hire them and they work, you’re likely to hire them again. And if they don’t, you will look around for other options.

According to Christensen, customer choice is about progress, not products.

His Theory of Jobs To Be Done focuses on deeply understanding your customer’s struggle for progress, and then creating the right solution and attendant set of experiences to ensure that you solve your customer’s jobs well, every time. 

This methodology has been successfully implemented by respected companies and fast-growing start-ups including Amazon, Intuit, Uber, and Airbnb. 

By understanding why customers to “hire” a product or service, any business can improve its sales by creating products and services that customers not only want to hire, but that they will pay premium prices for. 

The Theory of Jobs To Be Done is just one of the applied methodologies we cover in the Win More Work With Existing Customers training program, which will give you a solid understanding of what drives your customers’ wants and needs, and help you build a commercial value proposition that delivers them. 

This workshop is only two weeks away, so don’t miss your last chance to book.