We were in a sales engagement for what would have been our largest or second largest ever deal (very big!). The prospect told us we were losing the deal because of five specific features – all large, all valuable, all useful to many of our other customers. These features were even already all in our backlog, but uncommitted!
The prospect assured us we’d need those five features to win. We had capacity to deliver one, maybe two, in the short term. How could we handle this situation?
Of course, it’s easy to be a product manager if your backlog only contains features your team has the capacity to deliver.
But if you have five large must-have features but your team only has capacity to do one or two?
This is where PM becomes an art, rather than a science.They said we'd need those five features to win. We had capacity to deliver one, maybe two, in the short term. How could we handle this situation? Ten Tactics To Do The Impossible Click To Tweet
There were ten (OK, eleven) tactics that we used – and you can use – to have a chance of winning in this situation.
In this case, I was confident that a combination of a few of these – in particular 3, 6, 7, and 11 would have enabled us to win the deal, and we made good progress with the prospect on making that case.
Unfortunately, my company executives decided to do none of these, and to double-down on another product initiative (not mine!) that they felt was going to result in much more business. They were wrong, sadly. (We sold $0 of that product.) And the customer ended up buying from our competitor.
The postscript to this story was that the customer was not satisfied with the competitor and later came back to us to see if we’d addressed any of their issues (which of course remained important to them and to our other customers). But we’d continued the investment in the other product, and did not address any of their backlog, so we ended up losing a multi-million dollar deal twice.
There are lessons learned here, in addition to the tactics. I’ll talk about those in a future post, you can be sure.
Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.
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