Last week we had a guest lecturer in my marketing class, a man who had graduated from our program and had gone on to launch several successful consumer products. His current venture: organic salted chocolate, which he sells in several flavors.
During the Q&A session one of my classmates asked how he figures out which new flavors to try. His answer surprised me: it’s a scientific guess based on what he knows about his customers. He doesn’t like focus groups; they’re notoriously fickle. Customers will often say that want one thing, like healthy options at a fast food restaurant, and continue to order to most unhealthy things on the menu given an alternative.
Of course, we don’t sell chocolate or fast food hamburgers, but as acquisition professionals, we do serve a group of customers and need to deliver them the best product, based on their mission needs and capability gaps. “Scope Creep” is a dirty word in the acquisition business, but is all too common because we haven’t figured out what our customer REALLY wants. We all know what this leads to: cost and schedule overruns, four other dirty words in our business.
So how do you get your customers what they really want? Do you educate them on the acquisition process? Do you have them evaluate your analysis of alternatives? Do you choose knowledgeable COR’s? If you have success stories, we want to hear them!
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