Your daily dose of Product Management Goodness

Want to know more?

We would love to hear your questions and suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in our future blog posts, so don't be shy and get in touch!

Product Manager Tools
Reaction to losing a deal

Reaction to losing a deal

How do you react to losing a deal?

I’ll admit that I react badly, but how should a Product Manager really react? Deal with this using GRIT.

Grieve – In my opinion good losers tend to be infrequent winners so don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Go for a run, beat a punch bag, relax in a hot bath. Whatever your way of dealing with it, give yourself a bit of time to get it out of your system.

Research - Gather as much data as you can. Gather from all sources and gather without filter or preconception.

Identify - Work out what went wrong. It’s easy to make price or product assumptions, but discount nothing. I recall a deal lost years ago where we worked out that the customer had not even read our proposal. Be aware that the answer might be that the deal was never in your sights.

Translate - Make changes so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Remember the lesson of marginal gain - small changes can deliver significant results.

read more

What do PM's do

What do PM's do

What does a product manager do?

Our role can be quite complex and difficult to describe. But if we don’t have a clear purpose then we run the risk of being misplaced in our business (step forward all those product managers who are really sales support or project managers, ....).

Here’s a definition that might help. “Product managers reduce the risk of launching a product flop and increase the success of products in market”. So what does that mean? Well, product failure occurs in every sector. By using a professional pm framework a product manager reduces the risk of a potential product flop getting to market (we assess before we launch) and then by using the same pm framework, they ensure that existing products remain successful for longer (we continuously improve products). If there’s a 25% product failure rate in your industry and your pm skills have reduced that to 5% in your business then that’s great product management.

read more

Market research session

Market research session

What does a great market research session look like?

I was reminded of this with a team I recently worked with. They’re in a B2B market and are conducting early stage research on a new concept. A couple of product managers reported back that their customer visit had gone well. A deeper dive and it was clear that what they really meant was that the customer hadn’t asked any tough questions and so the meeting had been a breeze. This is bad news for the product; interested customers always ask difficult questions (date, price, detail). Think of these as buying signals – if they don’t ask “how much” or “when” they’re really not that interested.

read more

pricing - the right ball park

pricing - the right ball park

Want to quickly check if your pricing is in the right ball park? Then answer three questions:

1. Is the price higher than the unit cost – we don’t want to lose money every time we sell

2. Is the price lower that the (perceived or tangible) delivered customer value – customers won’t buy if your product doesn’t represent fair value

3. Is the price broadly equivalent to comparable offers in the market – if price expectations are already set, customers will be unwilling to move far from that price

For the mathematically inclined, this turns into a simple

model for sanity checking a price point.

P = Selling price
U = Unit cost
V = Customer value
C = Comparable solution price

read more

Explain Simply

Explain Simply

I’m going to get this printed on a t-shirt and give it to the next product manager who starts by telling me their product is complex to explain! Part of the art of great product management is making the complex as simple to understand as possible. Want to test you or your team on simplicity? Then try this; describe your new product offer/feature in 30 seconds or less to a group who are in your market. Wait 10 minutes and the ask them to describe your product offer. Did they remember it? If not, that’s your problem, not theirs.

read more

A Product plan is the nucleus!

A Product plan is the nucleus!

A Product plan is the nucleus of your product! It takes a lot of work to complete but it helps to align cross-functional teams and provides all the information available about your product, from hard market research to detailed financial models.

It’s time to present your product plan in order to bring teams in-line with your product. And all that hard work could be for nothing if you get this wrong and fail to communicate your message clearly. You have to be sure that the review team are going to understand, the product, the vision and all the key ancillaries that surround your product.

This requires a presentation that has clarity and conviction, a critical skill that all Product Managers should master. Communicating with clarity, during presentations or any cross-team activity is key to building the right foundations and setting your product on the right course!

read more

Personal attributes PM

Personal attributes PM

What to look for in a Product Manager

I was asked recently to define the qualities or attributes of my best Product Manager hires. This is my list, what is yours?

• You’re curious – You have a natural born curiosity and are eager to learn and understand. You always ask ‘Why?’.

• You have great people skills – You can influence and inspire through your passion, drive and credibility. People want to work with you.

• You make things happen – You’re a doer as well as a thinker. You solve problems. ‘Proactive’ defines you because you want to a difference

• You’re disciplined – You are structured in your approach and utilise processes and tools effectively to get the job done consistently.

• You’re a thought leader - You are able to distil complex information down into an insightful and compelling narrative. You use insight and evidence to make recommendations.

• You get your message across – You are clear, concise and credible in your communication, being able to deliver a message in a few words with complete clarity

read more

Impact - getting a product wrong

Impact - getting a product wrong

The impact of getting a product wrong

You can get a product wrong in many ways - badly designed, poorly build, doesn’t solve any specific need, too expensive etc....

We often think of the cost of the mistake in relation to the product - x million in development effort has been wasted, but the cost is much bigger than that. Think of it from a brand perspective. If a company delivers a bad product then customers don’t just reject the product, but they become wary of brand. An example from two brands- Alfa Romeo and Porsche; Alfa have a history of highs and lows. Sometimes they delight, sometimes not. Porsche have consistency. Now imagine both companies announce a new sports car for 2020 that you can place a deposit on today. Guess who would have the fuller order book? Brand confidence is a war that products battle to win.

read more

Marketing, get the message right

Marketing, get the message right

When should product managers engage with marketing to get the message right?

All too often, product marketing is an afterthought; we see many cases where teams don’t engage with marketing until late in a delivery cycle. And then they’re disappointed when the collateral, the positioning, the imagery and the core message don’t hit the mark.

My advice? Engage early. Really early. Get the marketing team involved at the ideation stage – at the very least they can help identify USPs, more likely they’ll add real value to the discussion and ultimately help drive a better product to market. Remember, Product Management is a team sport.

read more

The value chain

The value chain

Who is your customer?

As product managers, we often think of our customer as the person or business that uses our product – the end user. But it’s often more complex than that. Reaching that end user often means working with other teams – sales, support, third party resellers, etc. The point is this; If those intermediary teams do not see the value in your product, you’ll never get to the end user. It’s best considered as a value chain – you’re at one end, the end user is at the other. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If the sales team don’t understand it or the third party reseller wont stock it then the end user won’t even see your product.

So who is your customer? Every one in the value chain. Try and address their needs and motivations, and the chain will be strong.

read more

The Innovator

The Innovator

Finding the innovator

Driver-less cars. Love them or hate them, it feels like we are moving towards a future where automation will at the very least reduce driver engagement. But how will this market grow and form? It’s easy to get caught in the hype at the consumer end of the driver-less revolution and envisage the everyday commuter ‘driving’ to work eating breakfast, shaving, reading email. But as product managers we know that most markets form around innovators with big problems to solve.

Q: Who has the biggest problem that driver-less technology can solve?

A: Logistics companies spending a huge amount on drivers.

But what does that mean?

The driver-less market will hit the freight sector first and us commuters might have to wait longer than expected before jumping in the passenger seat. The product manager lesson: an innovator nearly always has more pain around the problem you solve.

read more

prioritise features

prioritise features

How do you prioritise features?

A common issue for Product Managers – they have a list of features and they need to make the call about which gets built first. The issue being that each feature is important to some customers.

Here’s a simple tool to help. Don’t start with the feature, start at the market end – prioritise your segments from most to least important (this could be based on value, growth , access, profits, etc). Then prioritise the people in those markets (for example, who controls the budget, or acts as the technical gatekeeper). Only when you’ve done this do you think about the features - what does you most important persona in your most important market value from the feature list?

read more

nucleus of your product!

nucleus of your product!

A Product plan is the nucleus of your product! It takes a lot of work to complete but it helps to align cross-functional teams and provides all the information available about your product, from hard market research to detailed financial models.

It’s time to present your product plan in order to bring teams in-line with your product. And all that hard work could be for nothing if you get this wrong and fail to communicate your message clearly. You have to be sure that the review team are going to understand, the product, the vision and all the key ancillaries that surround your product.

This requires a presentation that has clarity and conviction, a critical skill that all Product Managers should master. Communicating with clarity, during presentations or any cross-team activity is key to building the right foundations and setting your product on the right course!

read more

Agile updates & delivery

Agile updates & delivery

Agile Updates and Delivery

Agile delivery of product requirements and updates allows teams to maintain momentum and focus. Each sprint cycle within the agile world gives you a package update that is customer ready every 30 days, great!

But just because we work agile within the company setting doesn’t mean our customers want these updates delivered at the same rate.

We have to think about our customer base and the types of customers we deliver our product to, if we have customers working in a highly regulated sector then we have to be very considerate as to the frequency of updates to products and solutions that those customers use. Whereas public consumers are less likely to be upset or irritated if they receive updates more regularly.

Even with that in mind, we don’t have software updates for our smart phones every month, that would become tedious to most! Instead updates are delivered when there is a substantial package ready for consumer use!

Remember just because you can deliver an update every 30 days doesn’t mean that your customer types want to receive those updates at such frequency!

read more

Thinking of product retirement??

Thinking of product retirement??

Many Product Managers spend very little time at the retirement end of the Product Management discipline. Consequently, it’s an area where many teams have limited process or procedure. But remember, a bad product withdrawal can impact future product introductions – would you buy a new product from a company that had let you down with a previous product retirement? As with many things PM, the key is to step back and think a little. If you have a product that you’re thinking of withdrawing or replacing or retiring, spend 15 minutes answering these six questions before diving into a retirement plan.

read more