SBI recently spoke with John Mansour, founder and managing partner at Proficientz. Proficientz specializes in product management, product marketing, and sales enablement. He sat down with us to discuss 3 core areas of a good product strategy – market segmentation, product portfolio, and the product roadmap.
The first step to a good product strategy is determining which market is most attractive for your solution. “The number one rule of thumb when defining market segments is refer to them as they refer to themselves,” claims John. He went on to explain that you should define your customers as they define themselves, which is typically by market segment. He also recommends using geography and size. He believes this covers market segmentation for the vast majority of companies out there.
You must also consider how much of the market you can reasonably capture. John recommends finding a product or service similar to your own. How is it growing? What are the adoption rates? Then build some assumptions in to determine if you should be able to grow faster. And finally, in order to succeed you must align your strategy and salesforce behind it.
How should you determine which products to invest in, which to maintain, and which to end? “The easiest way to do that, and the most objective, is to map your products back to the customer organization,” explained John. Mansour recommends thinking about the org chart for one or more of your targeted market segments. Plot your products to the org chart in terms of relevancy. Then the decision becomes much more straightforward. “You start looking at to what extent do the activities my products support impact the goals of those customers either on an operational or strategic level,” he claims. Then you can start to figure out the how much the products are worth in terms of investment. But it always comes back to the customer. Map what you do to the customer, and you will be able to figure out which products are the most important and deserve the support.
We then asked John to explain the easiest way to determine which market problems to address on the product roadmap. Again, John recommends determining which market problems are most valuable. It’s a simple concept that is often very hard for product companies. “The best way to maintain a product roadmap, and make it meaningful to everyone inside and outside the organization is to draw a very clear line between the who, what, why, and how,” explained John. Your product is the how – how are you going to help somebody do something? Product roadmaps and portfolios are all about the who, what and why. Who are our target customers for a particular solution? What are they trying to accomplish? Why are these goals important?
John then wrapped our discussion by giving our audience 3 simple tips they can implement immediately in the product strategy. First, spend more time with your customers. Understand their issues and challenges completely. Second, socialize this information throughout the company. If everyone sees the customers the same way, and is on the same page, there’s less risk for multiple, competing agendas. And finally, determine how you can meet your customer’s gals in the way that is most conducive to your own revenue and profitability goals.
Ultimately, your products must be aligned externally with the market. And internally with sales and marketing. Otherwise, you risk missing your revenue growth objectives.