You know there is a “product problem,” but are people or process to blame? To determine if Product talent is contributing to missed revenue goals, read on.

It’s Q4. If your company is behind on the revenue goal, it’s likely all hands-on deck. How can we finish 2018 stronger? And how can we prevent lagging numbers again in 2019? The CEO has come to you to figure out what is going on with the Product team. As the HR lead he trusts you to assess if the “product problem” is a process issue or a talent one.

 

It wasn’t long ago that your company was a market leader in Product. Engineers and product managers were clamoring to work for you. You could not hire people fast enough. Your employee retention was world class. Products and enhancements were released on time and on budget.  Your customers were happy.

 

Unfortunately, times have changed… employee retention within the Product group is at an all-time high. Engagement company-wide is at an all-time low. Deadlines are being missed. Sales and Marketing constantly complain about the downstream effects on their organizations. Morale is waning. And customers are beginning to leave…

 

Download the Product Talent Assessment Tool to see if you have a Product Talent problem to tackle, and to look closely at your own product team and come back to your CEO with a diagnosis.

 

Problems Within the Product Organization Can Be Devastating

 

In many organizations, Product is the most important function. Product is the unsung hero that delivers what the customers want. Without the Product group there would be nothing to sell. There would be nothing to generate revenue. That is exactly why a “product problem” can be catastrophic for an organization. When there are issues within the product organization they cascade throughout the business. The results can be toxic. Sales and Marketing should care.

 

Problems with Product create the following downstream effects:

 

  • Marketing is either constantly under pressure to prepare campaigns with little notice; Or worse, they promote a new product and Product misses the deadline.

     

  • Sales delays cross and up-sell opportunities as they can never trust the go-live dates given by Product as real. The result: Lost revenue and sales reps not making quota.

     

  • Customers are frustrated as they aren’t given notice of product enhancements and upgrades. With a SaaS business this frustration directly manifests itself as customer churn.

     

What Should You Be Doing to Dig Deeper into the “Product Problem”?

 

Here are three areas you must consider when assessing Talent within the Product organization:

 

  • Talent Assessments- When was the last time you assessed the talent in your Product org? Last year? Too long! Just like Sales, Product talent should be assessed quarterly. Use a Top grading process to determine if you have A-player talent in your Product organization. Have you benchmarked your talent against the market? Can you get the same talent at a lower cost? Does your product team have the right qualities (both technology and business) to be successful?

     

  • Leadership- Look closely at the product leader. Ask these questions:

     

    • Does the product leader clearly understand the customer?

       

    • Is he or she prioritizing what the customer wants now in the product roadmap?

       

    • Is he or she driving accountability within the Product team?

       

    • Is a compelling Product vision conveyed to engineers and product managers?

       

    • Are deadlines being met?

       

    • Is customer feedback being effectively incorporated into the product roadmap?

       

  • Cross-Functional Collaboration– How is the product team working with Sales and Marketing? Good Product talent knows that they can’t be successful without the support of Sales and Marketing. To function best, Product needs inputs AND outputs from Sales and Marketing.

     

    • Sales:

       

      • Inputs: Sales supplies valuable Voice of the Customer insights that inform the product roadmap

         

      • Outputs: Sales primes customers to buy new products or product enhancements before they hit the market. This ensures there is active demand when products are released.

         

    • Marketing:

       

      • Inputs: Marketing has eyes on the markets. They are constantly researching market trends which needs to inform the Product strategy. Which markets are hot? Which are declining? We need to invest in what our customers want over the next 18-36 months. No better place to look than market trends.

         

      • Outputs: Marketing compliments the “buzz” Sales creates for new products, allowing the “buzz” to spread at scale. Marketing can reach new buyers that Sales cannot, and generate additional demand when products are released.

         

Now you are ready to look closely at your own product team and come back to your CEO with a diagnosis. Download the Product Talent Assessment Tool to see if you have a Product Talent problem to tackle.

 

 

Additional Resources

 

Still unsure if your “product problem” is a people or process issue? Schedule a working session at SBI’s Studio. 

 

Located in Dallas, TX, our facility offers state-of-the-art meeting rooms, lounge, full-service bar, and a studio used to tape our TV shows. SBI provides the location and facilitators, all at a compelling price point.

 

As a guest of The Studio, you’ll get unlimited access to SBI’s CEO, Partners, and a handpicked team of experts. Together we’ll focus on developing an action plan for your needs by getting a month of work done in just eight hours. It’s an amplified experience that you can only get in one place: The Studio. I hope you join us.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellen Wade

Provides clients strategic and tactical support in uncovering new revenue opportunities allowing them to make their number.

Ellen is an experienced consultant with a demonstrated history working directly with executive-level clients to deliver implementable solutions for high priority business issues. Ellen uses a data-driven approach in developing solutions, often blending strategy, analytics, technology and creativity to ensure project success.  Most recently, she helped a Fortune-500 retailer integrate after the acquisition of a major competitor. Ellen aided the client in sustaining revenue growth while rationalizing operational costs, driving higher net profits for the business. The project also realized historic pre-merger customer service level metrics. Her client portfolio spans Retail, Government, Finance and Technology sectors.

 

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