Jobs to Be Done

It used to be that when you learned how to sell, you needed to speak to the features of the product to show off how great it was, and how it differed from the competition.  Then, you realized that the nuts and bolts of a product were not as important when a buyer had an end goal or specific benefits in mind.  Yes, this car will get great gas mileage, but will it be fun to drive?

If you read my blog about fixed versus growth mindsets, you know that mileage is still going to matter more to some while fun is going to matter to others.  Even a good salesperson will have a tough time getting the “nuts and bolts” person to lighten up and think about all the fun they will have.  Ultimately, the salesperson needs to know the audience and the right angle to sell.

Whether we are talking about the world of the individual consumer or the business consumer, we are always talking about the intrinsic desire for change and how innovation can tip the scale in the sales conversation.  Individual consumers for some items, like cell phones, are eager to upgrade and get the newest version.  With an accelerated development cycle for many products and services, the pressure is on for the manufacturer to continue to innovate and release the next best version of their product – so the customer will buy.

But, what if there is a better product — the proverbial “better mousetrap” that is more attractive to the buyer than your product?  All that innovation and effort is for naught and creative destruction occurs.  (Think about it. Cars replaced the horse and carriage, destroying the buggy whip market. No matter how deluxe a buggy whip is, it’s of no value when its function is obsolete.)

So, hand-in-hand with a company’s need to innovate with a continuous strategy for developing the next best version (especially in technology companies), there is a desire on the buyer’s side to evolve and adopt newer, better ways to operate.  In the consumer world, this process of completing the evolution is called a Job to Be Done (JTBD.)

 JTBD Defined: Jobs to be Done is a theory of consumer action. It describes the mechanisms that cause a consumer to adopt an innovation. … [it] is the process consumers go through whenever they aim to change an existing life situation into a preferred one, but cannot because there are constraints. – What is Jobs to be Done? by Alan Klement

Jobs to be Done describes the scenario we see each day we meet with businesses to digitally transform their operations so they can change their “situation” into a preferred one.  The constraints? Lack of senior management understanding, support to change, budget and users that prefer to avoid change.  Overcoming these constraints enables the Job to Be Done – giving the buyer the satisfaction of evolving. Expanding on that idea, it gives the business and all its users a new experience and a chance to embrace change.

Business leaders who do not grow, evolve and renew their business operations watch innovation pass and do not realize how they could have improved their processes.  In the absolute, we all want to get the Job Done.  We could say, every business that is planning for their future, looking toward innovation has a Job to Be Done. So, getting the Job Done is what we have to sell in today’s world of innovation.

Getting the Job Done

This theory accurately describes the elements involved in the sales process. It states that:

“… markets grow, evolve and renew whenever customers have a Job to be Done, and then buy a product to complete it (get the Job Done.) This makes a Job to Be Done a process: it starts, it runs and it ends. The key difference, however, is that a JTBD describes how a customer changes or wishes to change.” – What is Jobs to Be Done? by Alan Klement

So, what’s the big deal? As I said at the start, to sell today we have to understand the expected outcome from the buyer’s point of view to achieve what they consider the Job to be Done.  This is the true driver of success.  Often a business can be shortsighted when they blindly add on to an existing legacy system because “it’s too big to change.”  They are just adding fixes and not looking for that transformational change.

JTBD theory is meant to be a directive to businesses to innovate beyond the simple upgrade and rather create products and services that people will buy. I am looking at this theory through the lens one step below that macro market view for the buyer’s perspective.  I see the theory as defining the “ideal mindset” that a business should have to embrace their digital transformation.

Ideal mindset

  • To move from a dependence on paper and manual processes, I must desire this change.
  • To Get this Job Done I must break down constraints: Buy-in, Budget, Adoption
  • To achieve something new for my business operations I need a course of action “aimed at changing my existing situation into a preferred one.” [Herbert A. Simon]
  • I recognize while each individual task [e.g., an onboarding workflow] will help my business’ success for operational efficiency, my true goal is to demonstrate an evolution in thought and action.
  • And maybe, I will discover things I did not know – could not have even fathomed – that will transform my company’s future path.

Use case for the better:  I recently spoke to a new user of a keyword search function that enabled her to find documents in minutes versus searching through banker’s boxes and file cabinets for one to two hours per request.  She had said that it was “unbelievable” that she could now find her documents so efficiently, and she just had no idea it could be so quick and easy.  The change in that task was revolutionary for her, but for the business, it was immeasurable satisfaction and cost savings generated from improved productivity.

The sales job to be done

Marrying the buyer’s desire to get the Job Done and the seller’s desire to find the right product or service that the people will buy could be simply an evaluation of the Current State — Desired State analysis.  But, this theory reminds us the critical factor in getting the Job Done is change for a reason — or transformational change.

Getting the Job Done really means the sell side uncovers a value of change, enabling the buyer to embrace it for its future business value.  On the buy side, it means displacing the current way and embracing a whole new world.  So, for a company’s digital transformation, once thought of as only a collection of tasks, the content management sale is a cultural change that opens countless strategic possibilities to make a significant change to the business to reach their ideal state.