Take Action Today With These Product Management Tips
I love lists, and the Internet loves lists. And I love immediately actionable product management tips that I can start using today to become better at my job. It just so happens that I include tons of immediately actionable guidelines in my articles on this site. There are over 50 at last count.
But what if you just want to get the most important ones, right now? Hey, I’m here for you. Here are 10 of the most powerful actions you can start doing today. You’ll become a better product manager, your sales people will love you, you’ll get more customers, and your profits will go up.
I provide context for each tip and a link to the original article where you can get the full story, and even more actions!
The Top 10 Things To Start Doing Today
- Your prospects are consumed with worries about the risk of buying your product. What can you do about that? Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. What are the risks, change management costs, and opportunity costs they perceive with your product? Be specific. You should be able to come up with ten or more items. Then come up with three ideas for reducing their perceived risk. For example, do you have successful customers already? Can you use the story of their success to reduce the fear of a new prospect?
- What does your product do? It solves a problem for someone, a problem that’s so bad that your prospects are willing to pay real money for the solution. Make sure you can articulate that problem, and why it’s so important to your ideal prospects.
- Your customers don’t want to buy capabilities, they want to buy solutions and knowledge. Look for situations in your product where most users take the same steps in the same order, most of the time. Make this the default and make it a single action. You might want to leave the other options available, but if most people are doing the same thing most of the time, make it very, very easy to do that thing.
- The most important activity we have as product managers is finding market problems to solve. Are you doing enough of that? Calculate how much time you’re spending today finding market problems. This means talking to customers, prospects, the customers of competitors, and lost prospects – outside the context of sales – to understand their most important problems. If it’s less than 20% on average, you probably need to do more.
- I’m sure you know that stories are the most effective way to communicate with people, and that most people make decisions emotionally and justify the decisions rationally. So you should be making sure to get emotionally compelling stories from your customers. Whenever you talk to a customer, try to elicit their stories about how your product has helped them satisfy personal goals, from being less annoyed by their work, to being more praised by their peers. You can use the list of points in this article as a guideline for your questions.
- Many executives have a hard time understanding “agile” (actually, many people at all levels of the organization do). So, when you talk to your execs about agile, don’t talk about agile, talk about delivering value to market faster. Which results in higher revenue and more profits. Execs are typically much more interested in higher revenues and profits than they are in development and project management methodologies.
- Being able to ask good, probing questions is one of the most important tools you have for finding and validating market problems. Create a set of questions for doing customer interviews about the topics you need to learn about, and practice them so you’re natural when talking to customers.
- Sales people who only talk about product features are unlikely to make quota, but in lots of tech companies those are the talking points they are given. Instead, they need to talk about how your solution (aka your product) solves customer problems. Observe how the sales team sells your product – are they focused on the customer’s problems and how your product solves them? Or are they focused on the product’s features and functions? If the latter, you need to start giving them better information. Make sure you provide the four key pieces of product knowledge: value proposition (including the problem you solve and why your solution is better than alternatives); segmentation and qualifying questions; objection handling guidance; and competitor information.
- Handling product-related sales objections is one of the most challenging parts of a sales person’s life. You can help them out with better customer-oriented product information. Here’s one way: Make a list of the features and capabilities that competitors have that you don’t. Develop reasons and stories of why you chose not to provide those or why customers don’t really get value from them. Stories about why customers choose you despite you not having those features are particularly compelling.
- Are your company’s processes and methodologies no longer providing the value they once did? If your methodology or process is hindering your ability to get value to market, come up with one change to make immediately to align it better to your goals.
If You Do These 10 Things, Your Career Will Change
There you have it – 10 powerful product management tips to get more customers, find better market problems, close more sales – the whole gamut. Let me know how they work out for you in the comments, and if you have any questions about any of them, feel free to drop me a line.