3 customer behavior frameworks that’ll change how your users see value

Uncovering demand is about you going into your customers’ lives.

It’s about uncovering your customers’ struggling moment, the outcome they seek, and the progress that they are trying to make. Let Bob show you the three customer behavior frameworks that’ll get you the answers you need.

“Look, we’ve got this feature! And it does this… and this…”

When it comes to building and selling, the number one problem some innovators have is talking people through the lens of their product, and its features and benefits. 

We think questions like this help us understand the buyer, because we get answers like, “it’s easy to use,” or “I love the interface.” 

The challenge is questions like this are about the product, not the buyer. 

They don’t help us to uncover demand.

Uncovering demand is about you going into your customers’ lives.

It’s about uncovering your customers’ struggling moment, the outcome they seek, and the progress that they are trying to make. It’s about the who, what, when, where, and why of how (or even if) your product helps them. 

It’s about seeing value from the customer’s perspective as opposed to value from the product perspective. Understanding and unlocking the why behind why customers switch from one product to another. 

The three frameworks that will unlock your customers’ “today’s the day!” moment 

The most simple way to uncover demand is to use the following customer behavior framework, comprising three theories. They’ll help you to understand how your product or service fits into people’s lives. Part of the Jobs to be Done framework – a theory used by organizations to build products and services, they include:

  • The motivation to buy: the three sources of energy or motivations. 
  • The forces of progress: what’s pushing you towards a purchase or pulling you back?
  • The JTBD timeline — the sequence of events and actions to make progress.

You interview those customers who’ve used your product before and made progress. You need them to tell you the story of how they got here.

More specifically, you need to uncover the three key buying frameworks that lead them to say, “today’s the day.”

Applying our Customer Behavior Framework: Buying a Peloton 

A friend, Amrita, bought a Peloton, and Bob Moesta and co-founder Greg Engle sat down to understand why.

Amrita is a busy, successful technology executive who lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband Bill. They own a beautiful 800-square-foot condo in an upscale building that includes a gym. When Covid hit, Amrita found herself quarantined in her condo, and the gym closed, so she bought a Peloton.

Uncovering how Amrita made the decision to buy. 

What we found after unpacking our hour-long conversation is that Amrita — like so many other people, including your customers — was influenced by three buying frameworks. If you want to uncover demand for your product, you need to understand those frameworks.

Framework 1: The Motivation to Buy

There are three different categories of motivation to buy: functional, emotional, and social. 

Let’s discuss each of them, using Amrita’s experience as an example.

Functional motivation. 

How straightforward is the purchasing process for the buyer in terms of time, effort, and speed? 

In Amrita’s case, Peloton made the purchase easy. Amrita told us that she had one conversation with Peloton before making the purchase, and setting up the bike was included in the delivery. She just needed to find a place for the bike in her home.

Emotional motivation. 

What fears, frustrations, and desires are driving the purchase? 

For Amrita, this purchase was driven by her emotional motivations more than anything else. She had insecurity about her weight and physical ability to keep up. She missed her alone time that the treadmill provided, and she also longed for that feeling of being addicted to exercise, like running.

– Social motivations. 

How do other people perceive, respect, trust, or acknowledge the person?

Amrita chose an exercise bike in great part to get her husband, Bill, from a “no” to a “yes.” She knows he likes to bike, so it increased her chance of his buy-in. Amrita also talked about the live classes with Peloton and how she longed for that community support to help her get back into regular exercise.

What’s the goal when using this framework? I would recommend it is to reduce the negative functional, emotional, and social motivations that are causing anxiety and serving as a barrier. 

Yet, at the same time you must amplify the positive motivations to create pull for the product or service. 

Think about how you may apply this to your sales process and onboarding:

  • where’s the friction?
  • what can you really push to help reinforce positive feelings?

Framework 2: The Forces of Progress

First, consider the push of the situation — your customer’s “struggling moment.” What forces were pushing Amrita toward buying a Peloton? 

The gym closed, and she was facing a long period of time without access to exercise equipment. Lately, she’d been feeling older, not able to keep up physically, or fit into clothes like she used to. Additionally, Amrita was no longer able to run as exercise.

Next, think about the magnetism of the new solution. The moment Amrita realized that something might get her back to a fitter lifestyle and help her make progress, the solution created magnetism; she started to imagine a better life where she felt and looked younger.

All of a sudden, she started noticing her friends rave on social media about being “addicted” and getting in a quick 20-minute workout between meetings. This created a pull toward progress.

And lastly, consider the anxiety of the new solution. Despite her struggle and the pull the new solution created, there was anxiety. Could she get Bill to agree to the bike? Was the price justifiable? Oh, and where was she going to put the Peloton? 

These anxieties are important to understand because they hold people back from making the progress that they need.

Finally, think about the habit of the present. For example, Amrita’s current gym was closed, but eventually it would open. Would she decide later that she wanted to go back to the gym and regret the Peloton? 

Framework 3: The Timeline to Progress

People’s forces and motivations drive their decisions, we do not buy things at random. Ultimately, the way people buy is a system that plays out over time. And the final part of that system is the timeline to progress, which includes six stages.

Image shows the Jobs to be Done timeline - the process of making a decision to make progress and switch from one product to another. Image shows several stick people highlighting the seven stages.
The JTBD timeline, part of the three customer frameworks.

First Thought. Once you have the first thought, you’ve opened-up the space in your mind for the information. Without this first thought, there is no demand. But once you have it, you notice things you didn’t notice before.

Once you’ve created space in your brain, you start to fill that space by transitioning to the next stage: passive looking. People can passively look for years if there’s no event pushing them to the next step on the timeline. Whatever the event, it acts like a domino falling in your life that moves you along the timeline to active looking — the next step in the process.

Active looking is when people plan, spend time, and even spend money figuring out what’s next. It’s when they seek the solution to their struggling moment. Then, they move to deciding: making the tradeoffs and establishing value.

Next is onboarding. This is where the consumer determines if you’ve met the expectations set when they decided to lock in and buy your product or service. From there, they move to the last stage: ongoing use. This is where the jobs get done and the progress is achieved.

Learn what your customers’ value and unlock their behavior to create demand.

Considering these three customer behavior frameworks will help you discover what your customer values, and thereby uncover demand. Organizations, such as Intercom’s case study use them to flip the lens when it comes to developing features.

Indeed, once you can see value from the customer’s perspective, you realize that value is not a feature or a benefit. It’s a tradeoff people make depending on the context they are in. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. 

We work with organizations through our consumer behavior consulting, a service that helps you to understand what pushes customers toward a purchase or moves them away from it.

If you’ve got a project you’re interested in applying these foundations, work with us.  Or, learn more about our new JTBD coaching program that’s opened up for 2023.