Scott Pielsticker, CEO of Toronto start-up, Contact Monkey, helped solve a mystery for me in this interview.
I’ve always wondered why it is so tough to sell usability testing services. There is a ton of research proving that the money you spend on usability testing is paid back many times over, because improved usability (i.e. an easier-to-use website or product) makes people much more likely to buy and recommend your products. And yet, companies are resistant to making the investment.
Solve Your Customer’s Immediate Problem
What Scott discovered is that the product he was originally designing solved his problem, and it solved a problem for his customer’s customer. But the person who had to pay for the service (i.e. Scott’s customer) didn’t get a clearly visible benefit, especially not in the short-term. So he had to “pivot”, and start working on a new product that would show immediate benefits to ContactMonkey’s customers. If this sounds confusing, just listen to the interview and it will all be revealed!
The new product they developed lets you see immediately when, where and how many times each email you send has been opened. It means that salespeople can strike while the iron is hot. If somebody’s just looked at your e-mail, you know they’ll remember who you are. There’s a clear, immediate benefit to the salesperson (Scott’s customer).
So with the usability example, the people who benefit immediately from better usability are the website users, but it is the company who has to pay for the usability testing and improvements. And unless they are doing a before and after test, with nothing else changing, it is not obvious to the company how much impact good usability will have.
- Ease of use is key. The tool is quick and easy to install and you start seeing its impact as soon as you start sending e-mails. You use it right within your regular e-mail screen — no need to open any other software.
- If at first you don’t succeed, pivot. If you are having trouble selling your product or service, it may be that it just isn’t meeting your prospect’s needs. Or at least not clearly enough for them to see the value. There’s no shame in revising your ideas to meet new needs you’ve uncovered as you learn more about your prospects and why they aren’t buying.
- Patent protection is great, but first mover advantage can get you going. Getting a patent is expensive and can take years. In our fast-paced world, it often makes sense to risk starting your business before you’ve got patent protection and working out the wrinkles. It will take competitors time to catch up, if they ever do. (That said, there is still a risk that a big company in a related field might just run with your idea and have the clout to sell it more successfully than you can.)c
- Contact new customers as soon as they’ve made a purchase (or started a trial offer). That’s when they are most likely to open your e-mail and to be responsive. And it means that if they do run into problems, they’ll be more likely to tell you than to simply give up on the trial and walk away.
UPDATE Feb 1, 2013: I’ve been trying the software for about a week now. It shows promise, but I cannot recommend that you try it yet. As we discussed in an earlier episode, when launching a new product you have to strike a balance between getting it out there versus working on it till near-perfection before releasing it. I think ContactMonkey has released it a bit too early. It still has several bugs that need to be worked out.
UPDATE Sept 23, 2013: Looks like Hubspot has just launched a competitor to this product: Signals . Could spell either validation of Contact Money’s concept or the kiss of death for them. Or both. Have you tried either product? What was your experience? (Please reply below)