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How AI is Making it Harder to Forget about Customers in Go-to-Market Motions (Part 1)

Dr. Brad Smith • 23 Apr 2024

In our new series, we’re exploring the ways AI is making it harder than ever to lose touch with consumers in go-to-market and product launch strategies. Specifically, we will look at the excuses often used when organizations forget to center their customers, and how AI is making those excuses obsolete. 

Excuse 1: “We were so busy executing our GTM process that we didn’t have time to talk to customers.”

How often does your organization embark on a product launch plan or a go-to-market strategy with the intent of staying deeply connected with the end customer, only to realize months later that the only thing happening is the churn of a large bureaucratic engine? Where your future customers have become an afterthought?

It’s not hard for even well-intentioned businesses to lose their way. Nobody sets out to execute a go-to-market motion that devolves into never-ending conference calls with a crowd of 50-plus people talking past each other, referencing acronym-filled status updates. 

Where words like “deadlines” don’t mean that a “line” has been drawn, and the product launch is “dead” if not achieved by the end date. In such cases, “deadlines” are more appropriately deemed, “estimates that my boss requires for the executive team, that we all know we can extend with a laundry list of acceptable reasons we keep in our back pocket.” 

The focus gets placed on the process, but the process isn’t the thing! It’s the customer, and the unmet consumer demand that the new product or service will fulfill. Sounds hackneyed, but my bet is that the example above will resonate with more than a few of you. 

Or consider this… in the last go-to-market product launch that you were involved with, how many members of the team were engaged in routine conversations with prospective customers, and deeply knowledgeable about the consumer markets that the product or service was being launched into?

In the “Resist Proxies” section of Jeff Bezos’ 2016 Letter to Amazon’s Shareholders (later referred to as Shareowners), he states: 

 “As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies… A common example is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right. Gulp. It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, ‘Well, we followed the process.’ A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us?”

When it comes to following a go-to-market process, getting the prospective customer off of the sidelines and placed on a pedestal as the central focus for every decision is the #1 way to de-risk product launches and rapidly accelerate post-launch sales. And in the age of AI, it has never been easier to do this. 


Using AI for Customer-Centric Go-to-Market Strategies

Before we talk about how AI is making this easier and more cost effective, I’d be remiss to not share the very next paragraph from this Letter to Shareowners, which ironically is perhaps one of the most damning statements about market research I’ve read from a business leader: 

“Another example: market research and customer surveys can become proxies for customers – something that’s especially dangerous when you’re inventing and designing products. ‘Fifty-five percent of beta testers report being satisfied with this feature. That is up from 47% in the first survey.’ That’s hard to interpret and could unintentionally mislead. Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customers. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design. I’m not against beta testing or surveys. But you, the product or service owner, must understand the customer, have a vision, and love the offering. Then, beta testing and research can help you find your blind spots. A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.”

**Not cringing** as the Vice President of Strategy at SightX, an AI-Powered End-to-End Consumer Insights platform.

But I agree. And I acknowledge that Amazon has a bit of experience bringing new products and services to market. This statement helps put market research and consumer insights into its appropriate place, in the “...Then, beta testing and research can help you find your blind spots” sections of the go-to-market motion. It’s also a call to action to employ the use of more sophisticated and effective study types to gather consumer input than simple surveys and straightforward averages can provide.

Unlike even a year ago, with today’s access to “AI-powered” consumer insights platforms, there’s no excuse for keeping your future buyers on the sidelines of a go-to-market motion. 

Many platforms will increasingly be constructed to empower users to build entire studies, not just simple surveys, with a simple prompt. These include pricing studies, concept tests, MaxDiff Analysis, KDA, TURF Analysis, unsupervised buyer persona clustering, and a wide range of conjoint studies, to name a few. 

These studies go far beyond simple surveys with the misleading averages that Jeff refers to above, and will  be increasingly deployed, analyzed, and summarized with simple AI prompts. The most difficult part will be stating exactly what consumer insights you want to gather.

In summary, don’t get caught up in worrying about process execution at the expense of hearing directly from the customer. Don’t over-index on simple surveys, and don’t only rely on them to inform you and your GTM team about the product or service.

Leverage consumer insights research to inform you of blind spots to de-risk a launch and to rapidly accelerate post-launch sales growth. Use a software platform that is powered by AI to build, deploy, analyze, and summarize consumer market findings with a prompt - saving your budget many thousands of dollars, dramatically speeding up the time-to-insight ratio, and delivering unprecedented quality. Avoiding these pitfalls and eliminating these common GTM excuses for sidelining the consumer will ensure that you deliver a product or service in a customer-centric way, and as a result, deliver something they love.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Dr. Brad Smith

Dr. Brad Smith

Dr. Brad Smith is the Vice President of Strategy at SightX, an AI-powered consumer insights platform. He specializes in consumer markets, customer experience, and employee insights research and strategy.

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