Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Why successful plans include a learning component

We’re almost done with the first month of 2017. Most statistics I’ve read about people who set new year’s resolutions show that more than half have already given up by this point in the year (in less than one month). Hopefully you’re not one them.

One of my perennial goals is increasing learning and applying what I learn to business and life. For years, learning has been a key component of every plan.

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How you know you have a winning product

In many ways, creating new technology based products and services has become much easier in recent years. With mobile apps, software as a service (SaaS) and other new tools, the cost of turning ideas into real products has significantly decreased. What has not changed is the significance of deeply understanding the market your product will serve.

What is the key to knowing you have a winning product?

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How to build a world-class sales team


Guest post by Adrian Terry

A world-class sales team is a lot like a world-class football team. Think about it – they’re both competitive, talented, driven to be the best and big fans of the social side of the job (well, most of them anyway). Football is one of the only areas in which the term “world-class” is used to describe players and teams, but there’s no reason why you can’t put together a sales team that could also be described as world-class. What lessons could you take from world-class footballers and teams that will help you to build and coach a sales team of similar stature? Continue reading

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Conversations that win

You want to win. Whether you are an athlete, an actor or a business leader you are “in the game” to win. You might be competing in a major event (e.g. summer Olympics in London) or in a crowded market (e.g. productivity software); regardless, you want to win.

What does it take to set you apart from the competition? In sports it’s pretty easy; you win competitions (ok, it’s not ‘easy’ to win for most of us, but it’s easy to measure). In business it most often comes down to the bottom line; how well your products and services sell compared to your competition. Measuring is not easy, but it’s possible. You need to know how you’re organization is doing and then do what it takes to leave the competition in the dust.

The book Conversations That Win The Complex Sale delves into the practices that lead to successful selling in complex situations. The concepts help you differentiate yourself and your products/services from the competition. “Rather than sell your own corporate story and brand vision, you need to tell customers their story—the one in which they are the heroes and they achieve success.”

The authors of the book, Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer, are also executives for Corporate Visions, the organization that is “all about helping companies, like yours, be different in a rapidly commoditizing marketplace.” The book and their training (which I attended this week) focus on three key areas that will help you create more opportunities, differentiate your solutions and close more deals:

The Power of Change: Helping you overcome the status quo, your biggest competitor. Focusing on intentions and instincts to help you understand your customers and prospects better. Bringing in “a little bad news” to help them care about what you’re doing. The right conversations help them want to change.

The Power of Story: Everyone lives in stories whether they know it or not. Connecting with your potential customers through stories keeps them engaged through the discussion and helps them see it from their perspective. You learn how to create power positions, engagement and heroes. You’ll learn why “you phrasing” is critical to closing the deal.

The Power of Message: It is human nature for people to be mostly engaged at the beginning of a presentation, mostly asleep during the meat of the presentation, and wide awake when they hear the words “in conclusion” (because it’s about over). The authors call this “the hammock” and give great methods of helping you keep your listeners engaged. You’ll learn why grabbers, big pictures and 3D props help your stories come to life, and how the right conversations pique the most important part of the brain that influences decision-making.

A short blog post cannot begin to convey the depth and meaning of this book, and especially not the value of the training. The training delves in-depth into each of the key areas that will help you win. The average ROI for companies that have gone through Corporate Visions training (which this book is based on) and apply it immediately is really high – so high I can’t bring myself to write it (you wouldn’t believe me). If you’re serious about winning, regardless of your position in the company, this book is a must-read.

The Product Management Perspective: Why is a sales training/messaging book important to product management? You work with sales all the time as a product manager. The principles in this book will not only help your sales team sell more effectively, but they will also help you “sell” more effectively to the sales team. You can plant the necessary information in their minds that will keep your products at the top of their list and help your company increase its success dramatically.

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Interview with the Cranky Product Manager

One of the most intriguing online personalities is the Cranky Product Manager. For those of you not familiar with the Cranky PM, she is “a fictional product management professional at a fictional enterprise software vendor named DysfunctoSoft.” She blogs about what she calls “fictional stories” of product management and product marketing professionals. The stories are fun to read and something tells me most of her examples are not fictional.

The Cranky PM has a wealth of knowledge and contributes considerably to the product management industry. Today I published an interview with the Cranky PM on my podcast the Product Management Pulse. It was a privilege talking with her and finding out more about this mysterious online personality. She is real and she is really smart. We discussed entrepreneurship, sales, leadership and several other important topics.

During the interview I got the sense that it’s a bit lonely being in her shoes (or pumps if the picture is accurate). She must understand what Batman feels like. Anyway, it was a fun interview and I invite you to listen in; I’m confident you’ll enjoy


The power of the right product (or service)

What is the most important role in a company? That question has been debated endlessly, and as the idiom goes, the “jury is still out.”

If you think about this question not from the perspective of the role, but from the perspective of the outcome, you start to shape opinions that at least get you closer to the answer. Successful companies sell the right products and/or services to their markets. Think about how having the right product (or service) affects every part of your business:

  • Sales: The sales team has no problem convincing prospective customers to buy. When prospects learn about the benefits they will buy right away. The sales team’s job is straight forward.
  • Marketing: Getting the message out about your company’s offerings is easy because the products meet the needs of the target market. The marketing team does not have to worry about perfuming the pig and can concentrate messaging greatness.
  • Accounting: The CFO’s job is easy; he or she can focus on investing for the future and not have to worry about making the quarter or how many employees to lay off.
  • HR: Hiring great people is easy because of the reputation of the company.
  • Engineering: The architects and developers love coming to work every day. They continue to release high-quality products and love every minute of it.
  • CEO: The happiest person in the company is the CEO. He or she understands the value that comes with the power of the right product (or service).
  • etc.: Every function in the company runs smoothly.
Which role is responsible for the right product? It varies from one company to another, and depends on the size of the company and the type of business. In today’s technology-rich companies the role of getting the right products (and yes, services) falls to Product Management.

If you don’t have product managers in your company, get them. If you have them, treat them well. If you are an executive, put your best leaders on the product management team, build it out, empower the people on the team to do great things. You will benefit every other part of your organization by putting your money and your confidence behind the product management team.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers, do you agree with my take on the importance of your role? Does your management understand the value you can bring? If they do…excellent! Keep moving forward. If not, send them a link to this post and start educating them about the power of the right products and services.