We just completed an extensive series of in-depth interviews with great IT participants from around the globe. These participants were smart and articulate. They knew their job, and were very good at it.
But as smart and capable as these participants were, we discovered during the interviews that many of them – at least half – held a completely false belief about my client’s product.
During the interviews with these participants, they kept repeating the same idea. The details are confidential to that client, of course, but the important point is that this audience really believed that their perception of the products was true. This wasn’t a minor technical detail – it was a major assumption about environments the products operated in. But the problem was IT WASN’T TRUE! This was verified by my client, by independent evaluations that we found while investigating the conflict, and by some of the other participants in the study.
So here you have a very well established fact about a product, but at least half of the customer population believes something else. In other words: even if something is not logical, and even if your customers and prospects are technology vendors who tend to be logical, they may still believe in something wrong. And it could negatively affect their buying decisions.
This type of dynamic is extremely important for vendors to understand. If there are things that your audience believes about your solution that are not true, you’d better know about it so you can take action.
You’ll notice that I’m referring to this as a “belief”. Beliefs are harder to respond to than competitive FUD or outright lies. These are things that your target market thinks are true because they’ve never really thought about it.
A formal market research methodology is the best way to uncover and to root out these false beliefs across your target market. You can’t rely on day-to-day conversations with customers, because if these issues do surface during such a conversation, you tend to correct them immediately with that specific customer and then forget about them since it didn’t make any sense to you to think that way.