Define the Process – Job to be Done

While I love creating systems for small business owners, there is a real problem with system thinking — the rut. The rut is a mindset where we start to believe that our current systems will always work and will never need to change. What is the issue with this? Your customers are not static! The problems to be solved today are not the problems they will need to be solved tomorrow.

One of my favorite authors is Clayton Christensen who helps companies understand the job to be done. The idea is that we can get so focused on our solution that we forget the real problem a customer is needing to be solved. Christensen first heard this idea from Theodore Levitt at Harvard who said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”.

In our business, for years we just sold websites. When I started the business, there were actually decent technology hurdles in creating a website, so we were able to maintain a competitive advantage. But now that there are a plethora of website building tools, that problem has largely been solved. This has required our company to continue to press into understanding what the core problem is that we are solving for our customers.

Thinking about the job to be done shifted our understanding of why our customers hired us. They don’t hire us because they have a problem with their website, they hire us because they have a problem with revenue. The website isn’t the job to be done. The job to be done is that of a salesperson. The website is being hired to take over a certain aspect of the overall sales process.

When you start to think about the job of a website as being a salesperson, you start to realize there are other roles in the overall sales process. For instance, lead gen (through inbound marketing from seo/sem), lead nurture (through automated marketing), and lead conversion (through e-commerce or order automation). Each of these roles has an important job in the process of a customer deciding to make a purchase. And each of these roles can utilize digital tools to help increase sales.

By understanding that the job to be done was increasing revenue, we started to realize we had a much broader set of tools that we could use to help our customers solve their core problem. This moved our competitive advantage from creating websites to creating sales. This shift forced us to learn new tools which have allowed us to be adaptable and relevant.

Take some time to consider if you are selling drills or holes. Next, start to think creatively about tools you can hire to meet your customer’s real job to be done.

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