33: The Field of Dreams is fiction

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

I was chatting with someone the other day about what it meant to be a product manager, not so much in terms of abstract qualities, but about their day-to-day role in a start-up and whether it differed much from working in a larger company.

In a start-up, I suggested, money is tight, so a product manager has even more responsibility than usual to ensure that, by the time the expensive development work starts, you’ve already done the product discovery.  It’s crucial to have a solid idea of what the product needs to be to solve the market problems identified.

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Win-win-win with Wigwamm – an interview with Rayhan Rafiq Omar

Rayhan Rafiq OmarA London startup is attempting to disrupt the local property rentals market in a way that benefits tenants, landlords and property agents equally – a win-win-win scenario, you might say.  Jock Busuttil finds out more from the man in the Wigwamm, Rayhan Rafiq Omar.

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What you should expect when recruiting a product manager

or: What makes a good product manager?

After my slightly frivolous post last time, I wanted to follow up with a more practical article intended for people wanting to hire a product manager and, by the same token, those of you wanting to step into that role.

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How to get your sales team selling value instead of discounting

Does your sales team sell your products (like, in exchange for money), or does it give them away as generous sweeteners to guarantee the sale of something else that will hit their targets?  Or to put it in another way, does your sales force truly understand the value of your products and can it articulate the benefits to the customer?

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Why aren’t Sales selling my new product?

There are many reasons why Sales may be holding back on your new product.  As we all know, Salespeople are by nature shy, retiring types, who need constant reassurance.  You need to encourage and nurture them, delicate little flowers that they are.  Or at the very least, restrain the urge to run screaming at them with a baseball bat held aloft.

Here are some of the blatant excuses reasons I’ve found so far:

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Context is everything

BMW Versus Audi

Your developers may be happiest when they’re hacking gnarly code, leaving you to get on with engaging with the market, but this doesn’t mean you can ignore their need for context – the ‘why’ of their project.

Over the years, I have spoken to many disgruntled developers over a beer after work.  This isn’t entirely coincidental as they tend to dwell in the kind of pubs I enjoy: real ale, good selection of crisps, ability to hear oneself think, minimal bar fights, that kind of thing.

What tends to be a recurring theme of their disgruntlement is that they don’t see the point of their current project. They feel aggrieved that they’re not doing something more interesting instead.  And you know what, if it’s your project, it’s your fault.  Bad product manager.

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Questions you need to be asking

There are many questions that a product manager needs to ask to determine the best course of action or to analyse underlying motivations.  Of them, I use the following three questions most often:

  1. So what?
  2. Why?
  3. What’s stopping us?

So what?

Use this repeatedly to uncover the true benefit of something rather than simply features of the proposition.  For example:

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