Understanding Your Market’s Three Types of Customers
The key customer in any market is the person who benefits from getting the job done. This is who we call the “job beneficiary.” The job beneficiary is the critical customer in your market because they have the most to gain from the job-to-be-done being satisfied by your product. The second customer to consider is the "job executor". This is the person who helps execute the job on behalf of the beneficiary. For example, IT managers help employees use business software by installing it on company servers. The third customer to consider is the purchase decision maker. For example, finance executives will often decide which software to purchase based on financial and budgeting considerations.
In consumer markets, the job beneficiary, executor, and purchase decision maker are frequently the same person. A consumer benefits from “getting to a destination on time”, they execute this job by driving themselves, and they make the decision to purchase products and services to get the job done.
Medical markets are the most extreme example of the differences between job beneficiaries, executors and purchasers. Every medical product and service is ultimately designed to help patients. This is why medical markets exist: because patients need to get medical jobs done including optimizing their health, curing a health condition, and diagnosing a health condition. But patients rarely execute their own medical procedures and rarely purchase them on their own because they use insurance. For example, in order to obtain a blood sample to diagnose their health a patient (the job beneficiary) goes to a phlebotomist (the job executor) to get a blood sample, and the procedure is paid for by the insurance company (the purchaser).
It is critical to distinguish between beneficiaries, executors, and purchasers when building your product roadmap because if you target the wrong customers, you put your company at risk that a competitor takes your market share.
For example, before software-as-a-solution products, IT departments installed CRM software for salespeople. Salespeople use CRM systems to get the job done of “acquiring new customers.” Salespeople are the job beneficiaries in this market because they benefit from getting the job done with software. IT managers are the job executors who help salespeople acquire customers by installing and maintaining software. But once SaaS products were available, IT managers, the job executors, were unnecessary.
With JTBD, you can map beneficiaries, executors, and purchasers in your market to ensure you are targeting the right customers. This means that your customer and their needs decide what should be in your roadmap, not characteristics or personal opinions. JTBD removes the subjectivity so you and your team can measure what matters to your customers.