The idea that developing your customer is more important than developing your product is intellectually correct but let’s face it, for most of us it is not as fun. However, I have that urge myself abd still do every day . . .
In 2004 I was asked to lead a small team of developers and biz dev guys who had been working hard to develop a simple document management system. They had secured a serious and large billion dollar a year distribution/sales partner who I knew quite well. That was my entry to the company.
Having a billion dollar partner when you are a hundred of thousands dollar a year company is scary and exciting at the same time. The big problem is you are one order removed from the customer.
If you are in this position, you must find ways to break through their customer position so that you can understand as much as they do about who your customer is. Your customer is not your partner. Remember they must be successful for you to be successful.
As the CEO of that 5 person team, I spent the majority of my time in my partners office, and all but demanded that they take me on their sales calls. I had to earn their respect to do it but I put the time in and pushed until I could hear first hand what our mutual customers needed.
If you need a bit of inspiration, shuffle over to my new book where you can read why Customers are #1 in Build The Fort.