SBI Podcast (Product Strategy)

Joining us for today’s show is Ella Balagula, an executive product leader who knows a thing or two about developing revenue-producing products. Today’s topic is focused on how to use the Product Road Map to paint a picture of happy customers well into the future. Ella and I leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access emerging best practices as a guide for our questions.  To access the latest workbook, click here to review the Product Strategy section.     

Let me tell you more about our guest. Ella Balagula the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Engineering & Technology Solutions for Elsevier, an information analytics company that specializes in science, technology, and health. Ella manages a product that is an engineering decision support solution that enables engineers to confidently answer technical questions drawing upon more than 130 providers through cloud based platform with powerful search and interactive analytics tool. Listen as Ella demonstrates how to use the Product Road Map to paint a picture of happy customers well into the future. 

Your ability to grow revenue is highly influenced by the quality of the product and whether you are a ‘me too’ or a unique game changer.  In today’s show, Ella guides our audience path to producing a revenue-producing product road map. Ella is uniquely qualified to speak on this topic having a strong background in both strategic planning and product development. Ella is the perfect expert to help connect the dots between the product road map and the functional teams of sales and marketing. 

If you would prefer to watch a HD video of the interview, click here.

Why this topic? Future revenue growth sits in the product road map, use cases and requirements backlogs. Today’s revenue-producing products become tomorrow’s commodities as the competition quickens its development cycle. Building blockbuster products requires moving from legacy market listening techniques to advanced feedback systems. Long lead times starting with robust requirements have been replaced with short lead times starting with use case iterations based on real-time product feedback and analysis. 

In the first segment of the show, Ella describes to process for prioritizing feature requests.  The endless request for features must be tied to customer satisfaction and the path to future revenue.  Our conversation then takes a unique turn as we discuss the drivers that compel changes to the product road map, including what social, economic and industry trends influence a product road map.  This quote from Ella summarizes the emerging best practice approach: 

“We do a deep dive to understand customer use case's workflow. But most importantly, we anchor into, where are we going to play? What are the markets? We get alignment with corporate strategy. Then we look for big meaty problems that drive progress of humanity. It's big issues like health and wellness or energy sustainability or materials revolution.” [p]

“For example, we're developing a product now focused on material selection in the chemical industry. We know that materials revolution is driving a need for people to start selecting the right material and connect research data with environmental data and the prior pricing and all of those. Can we help them? That's when it starts going into product plans or product road map. We start with market. We focus on a big meaty problem and we translate it into what it means to customers.”  

Listen as Ella describes how to take advantage of emerging opportunities created by new technology, and how to navigate the use of third-party partners and technology into your product road map.  

The timing of product releases will greatly impact revenue within a given year.  Listen as Ella describes how to collaborate with sales and marketing to define release timelines.  This includes a discussion into how to employ release schedules to drive a consistent velocity of product releases into your market. 

Decision Gates are used to move products through your product road map.  Watch was Ella describes the gating process and how to determine the right gates to keep your company on track. 

Finally, we have a deep discussion how Ella validates that the new releases on the product road map are delivering value to customers and ultimately producing revenue. 

Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you have the right product strategy to support your revenue growth goals? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate your Product Strategy against SBI’s emerging best practices to find out if:

  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job
Direct download: AP1733-Ella_Balagula-18691.m4a
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 8:27am EST

Today’s guest is a product leader who knows how to set-up the sales team for a successful product launch by developing the right product messaging. A great product alone is not enough for success.  The interlock between product, marketing and sales requires collaboration to develop compelling messaging to overcome the biggest competitor for most companies, which is Do Nothing.  Overcoming the status quo requires story telling, and today's guest has a launch process that will place you on the right path during pre-launch.   As a guide, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to the product strategy section and flip to the Product Launch and Messaging phase on pages 143 – 146 of the PDF. [p]

Why this topic? Product launches fail to generate revenue when sales people and channel partners are not involved in messaging development during pre-launch preparations. When messaging is developed in isolation it is not compelling enough to get your customers to act. Stories told directly to customers by well-trained sales channels enable customers and prospects to answer “Why change?” and this stimulates latent demand while leading to exceptional revenue growth. [p]

Joining us is Toby Williams, SVP, Chief Product and Strategy Officer for Ellucian. Ellucian is the world’s leading provider of software and services for higher education institution, serving more than 2,400 institutions and 18 million students worldwide. Listen as Toby discusses how to create messaging to defeat the status quo. This starts with market problems that the solution is solving and to capture it through the customer lens. [p]

Toby is responsible for driving product management and strategy, corporate development, M&A, business development, partnerships and cloud business. In the first segment of the show, Toby provides a detailed review of the product launch process at Ellucian. We discuss ‘Why Change’ and the story required to defeat the status quo. 

The second segment covers messaging frameworks and ‘Why Change Now?’ Toby describes how to use the client voice and stories to tell the story. Toby and I discuss the power of leveraging the clients voice to deliver how the solution has helped their institution. Not only the buyers, but the users of the solution by positioning the users as heroes has resonated in the market. 

In the final segment, Toby answers this hypothetical question; If a new company hired you tomorrow with a mandate to launch new products, what would you do, in what order, and why? Toby describes a programmatic approach that creates order. Listen as Toby outlines an action plan in depth that describes the steps to launch a new product. The new benefit is cross-functional organization readiness. 

If you need more help with Product Launch and Messaging, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to pages 143 - 146 of the PDF. To request a workshop with an expert simply sign up for a MySBI account and check the box in your preferences to request a workshop.

Direct download: AP1643-Toby_Williams-17930_1.m4a
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 8:53am EST

Today we're going to demonstrate how to use the product roadmap to paint a picture of happy customers well into the future. As a guide to the discussion, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to the Product Strategy section and flip to the Product Roadmap phase on pages 138 – 142 of the PDF. 

Joining us today is Tom Banta, Senior Vice-President of Product Management and Development for vXchnge, a co-location facility provider. vXchnge’s Micro Data Centers provide businesses with a Data Center-as-a-Service solution. Tom is uniquely qualified to demonstrate how to use the product roadmap to paint a picture of happy customers well into the future. 

Listen as Tom and I discuss prioritizing product features and the concept of role based themes as customer-centric approach. Most product development teams prioritize by themes. Tom contributes a unique insight with the concept of role-based themes. He explains his approach to identifying impact areas: “Focus on individual roles that would have what we would think as a big impact. At the end of the day, we're trying to get our products to be something that people couldn't imagine living without.” 

Why this topic? Future revenue growth sits in the product road map, use cases and requirements backlogs. Today’s revenue-producing products become tomorrow’s commodities as the competition quickens its development cycle. Building blockbuster products requires moving from legacy market listening techniques to advanced feedback systems. Long lead times starting with robust requirements have been replaced with short lead times starting with use case iterations based on real-time product feedback and analysis.

You must hear Tom’s answer to my question about the golden feature: Sales people are always looking for that "golden feature", the single most important feature around which we build our products and features and the thing that leap off the shelves and kind of sell itself. How do you define a golden feature and does such a thing exist?’ Tom’s answer to this question provides the three basic elements that must be comprised in a successful product roadmap. Major Features, Enhancements which are improvements on existing features, and improvements on usability. Listen to the full exchange to hear Tom’s point of view, including this quote: “We look at impact based and what is something that we think really will set us apart competitively in the market. Some of these require what's called some seed planting way in advance.”

Direct download: AP1652-Tom_Banta-17932.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 8:19am EST

Today’s topic is understanding how to make the customer experience a competitive differentiator.

I recently interviewed Cigna’s Vice President of Global Product Strategy and Operations, Rob Wentling.  Cigna is one of the largest global health services companies in the world. Rob is accountable for creating and delivering an enterprise-wide product strategy including core product development and management processes critical in helping Cigna achieve its “Go Deep, Go Global, and Go Individual” strategy.

Rob has 25 years of business experience at some of the world’s great companies such as AT&T, ADP, The Hartford Insurance Company, and now Cigna. His experience includes business unit strategy, product strategy, business development, marketing, and development.  Listen as Rob and I discuss how the customer experience be a competitive advantage.

Why this topic? Customer’s expectations have risen, and failure to provide an exceptional experience for each customer can result in poor revenue growth. Some customers prioritize their experience over product performance, believe it or not, when making a purchase decision. This requires a deep understanding of the customer’s journey and each touch point along the way. Mapping this customer’s journey is a difficult yet mission critical task that when done correctly can result in exceptional revenue growth.

Direct download: AP1644-Robert_Wentling.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 2:55am EST

Today’s topic is how to launch new products successfully. 

Product launches fail to generate revenue when sales people and channel partners are not involved in messaging development during pre-launch preparations. When messaging is developed in isolation it is not compelling enough to get your customers to act. Stories told directly to customers by well-trained sales channels enable customers and prospects to answer “Why change?” and this stimulates latent demand while leading to exceptional revenue growth.  

Joining us is Toby Williams, SVP, Chief Product and Strategy Officer for Ellucian.  Ellucian is the world’s leading provider of software and services for higher education institution, serving more than 2,400 institutions and 18 million students worldwide.  Listen as Toby discusses how to create messaging to defeat the status quo.   This starts with market problems that the solution is solving and to capture it through the customer lens. 

Direct download: AP1643-Toby_Williams-17930_1.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 12:20am EST

Today’s topic is  new product launch. Joining us is Andy Wright, Executive Vice President of New Product Development at Cypress Semiconductor.

Cypress Semiconductor is the number one manufacturer of memory used in electronics.  Chances are that the device you are using to read this article right now is powered by Cypress.  Andy is responsible for corporate wide design and driving P&L for all design activity worldwide.

Andy and Greg discuss how to conduct a successful product launch.  A product launch hinges on being able to tell stories that compel your customers to act by answering the key question, “Why change?”.

Product launches fail to generate revenue when sales people and channel partners are not involved in messaging development during pre-launch preparations. When messaging is developed in isolation it is not compelling enough to get your customers to act. Stories told directly to customers by well-trained sales channels enable customers and prospects to answer “Why change?,” and this stimulates latent demand while leading to exceptional revenue growth.

Listen to Andy explains how his team works to identify launch risks early on. He controls launch risk by rapidly sequential phase gating. As each phase gate he evaluates whether he goes through the rest of the R&D phases.  

During the interview, Andrew will answer these questions:

  • How should you determine your new product launch goals?
  • How do you ready the entire organization for the launch?
  • Where does sales enablement live, and who should own it?
  • How should you measure success or failure of a new product launch?
Direct download: SBI_AP1603-Andy_Wright.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 10:29pm EST

On today’s show we discuss product strategy. Our guest is Peter Sheldon, the Vice President of Strategy at Magento Commerce. Magento is a leading e-commerce platform providing enterprise solutions. Before his position at Magento, Peter was one of the foremost thought leaders at Forrester on the topic of e-commerce.   

The goal of the call today is to think through product strategy using Magento as a use case.  Your company’s go-to-market model needs to flow out of the product strategy.  

There are different types of product strategy: Market Expansion, Market Share and Market Exposure.  Very different product strategies.  Spend the time to get these right.  Your go to market model for sales will be very different depending on which strategy is selected. 

It’s nearly impossible to build a sales and marketing strategy that makes your number every year if you don’t fully understand the product strategy.  The go-to-market strategy for sales and marketing changes significantly based on how you answer these product questions.  Listen to Peter bring the question of product strategy’s impact on sales and marketing to life with the Magento use case.   

Work with your product leader to get answers to these questions to align your strategies.  Peter answers a series of questions to help sales and marketing leaders understand the impact of product strategy on the overall go to market strategy. 

  • Is your product strategy focused on participating in overall market expansion where rising waters raise all ships?
  • As you compete in a mature market do you have to take market from your competitors to grow?
  • Are you also exploring new growing markets and how to expose your products to grow?
  • Do you find that the B2B market mimics the B2C world with a 2-3+ year lag time?
  • Is your product strategy to enter fast growing product markets and take revenue from distant companies rather than direct competitors?
  • Is your product strategy to define new products that are so innovative as to create an entirely new product category?
  • Is your product strategy to grow by persuading existing customers to buy more of a product or related product?
  • When adding new products requiring cross-sell/up-sell, how do you know when to use the existing sales force vs. a new sales strategy?
  • Is the product strategy based on new product pricing and promotion in a mature market and is therefore likely to be temporary based on competitor retaliation?
  • Is the product strategy to force smaller companies out of the market?
  • For a concentrated market, is the product strategy to cycle through market share without sustainable share gain?
  • Is the product strategy to execute bolt on acquisitions to complete or extend the product offering and leverage the current routes to market

Listen to Peter respond to each question and highlight how to avoid the traps and the approach the market challenges.

Direct download: AP1626-Peter_Sheldon-17928.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 10:04pm EST

On this weeks’ SBI Sales and Marketing Podcast we spoke with Greg Shepard, the chief strategy officer at Pepperjam. Pepperjam is a global digital marketing and performance technology firm, and Greg is responsible for evaluating trends, client feedback and internal requests to foresee opportunities for new product development. The topic of our conversation was injecting buyer behavior into the product strategy. Listen as Greg explains how he uses these insights to build and execute his product strategy.

During the episode, Greg will answer questions such as:

  • How do you determine what buyer problems to solve, and what behaviors prove evidence of these problems?
  • How do you determine if your product will beat the competition in the market?
  • How often should you put your product in front of the buyers to get their opinion on the solution?
  • How do you forecast wallet share?
  • How do you test for product-market fit within each of your submarkets?

Buyer behavior is changing constantly. And these insights must be considered when it comes to new product development. It’s your best chance to ensure you are developing products that your buyers are willing to invest time, energy and money to solve. Listen as Greg describes how he uses buyer behavior data to successfully develop his product strategy

Direct download: injecting-buyer-behavior-into-product-strategy.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 5:25am EST

This week on the SBI Sales and Marketing Podcast we speak with Terry Hicks, the chief product officer at Infusionsoft, about integrating his product strategy with his go to market strategy.

We start the discussion with how Terry develops his product strategy. He’ll explain how determines what markets to compete in and what problems to solve. He’ll also discuss how to determine how your products can uniquely win against the competition, and how to determine how they should be marketed and sold.

Terry will continue the discussion by next explaining how he develops his go to market strategy. He’ll explain how to develop the product positioning and pricing strategy for your products. And how to ensure the entire organization, product, sales and marketing, is ready for the new product launch.

We conclude our talk by looking at the first three actions product leaders can take right now to immediately make an impact with their product strategy. Terry will explain in detail how you can successfully integrate your product and go to market strategies.

Want more weekly insights like this to help you make your number? Subscribe to SBI’s Sales and Marketing Podcast and leave us a review! Your feedback will help us improve our show and continue to bring you content that keeps you at the top of your game.

Direct download: Product-Strategy-Understanding-Your-Markets-Pain-Points.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 5:34am EST

This week on the SBI Sales and Marketing podcast, we discuss how to conduct a successful product launch with Andrew Wright, vice president of design at Cypress Semiconductor.

In our first segment, Greg and Andrew discuss launch planning. Andrew shares how to determine the goal of launching a new product, such as revenue expectations and how to decide on the initial set of target customers. He also explores how to set up organizational readiness, specifically with the sales team, to make sure they are ready for this product launch. He then briefly touches on who is responsible for the launch, how to figure the launch budget, what risks to take into account and how to measure the success or failure of the new product introduction.

In our second segment, Greg and Andrew discuss how to execute the product launch. Andrew shares time objectives, sales enablement, reference customers and testimonials. Then he elaborates on how he measures success during and after the launch.

In our final segment, Andrew summarizes all the above information into an action plan you can apply to your own product launch.

Ready to Make Your Number?

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This week on the SBI Sales and Marketing podcast we talk shop with a different sort of guest. Rather than examining sales strategy with a sales leader or corporate strategy with a CEO, we’re joined today by a product expert, Merijn te Booij, the executive VP of product strategy at Genesys, to discuss connecting a sales strategy to the product roadmap.

We begin by looking at the steps to building an effective product roadmap: performing a market scan, prioritizing market problems, involving your sales force and finding a product market fit. From there, Merijn discusses his usage of the Lean version of Agile, where one creates strategic alignment between the product organization and sales organization using cases and milestones.

From there, we look at how to use your sales force to inform your decisions when determining if something should be a new product, new release or new bundle. We also break down the concept behind MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and talk through the challenges the MVP-based development cycle faces and how to avoid ideas that’ll distract your sales force from making their sales.

As always, we conclude our conversation by summarizing how to put all these learnings into action, so your sales strategy can stay on track with your product roadmap and you can hit your numbers.

Want more weekly insights like this to help you make your number? Subscribe and leave us a review! Your feedback will help us improve our show and continue to bring you content that keeps you at the top of your game.

Direct download: Connecting-the-Product-Roadmap-to-the-Sales-Strategy.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 4:00am EST

This week on the SBI Sales and Marketing Podcast we’re doing things a little differently. Rather than dishing sales strategies with a CEO or CMO, we’re joined instead by a CFO to get into the nitty-gritty of pricing strategy, the backbone of any successful product marketing campaign. Our guest today is Lauri Hanover, the CFO of Netafim; a global pioneer of the drip revolution. Together, we discuss how to improve your company’s marketing strategy by determining the perfect price in regards to your costs and product market.

We start with an in-depth look at the biggest influence on a sound pricing strategy: costs. We look at how to factor for the costs of building, marketing, selling, installing and supporting your product. Next, we look at determining a product price relative to these costs along with your product strategy as well as outside influences, such as market trends and competitor pricing. We end our conversation by discussing the first steps to putting a new pricing strategy into action so you can get your company on the right path toward better pricing and probability so you can hit your mark.

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Direct download: Product-Marketing-with-Lauri-Hanover-From-Prices-to-Profits.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 4:00am EST

Welcome to the SBI Sales and Marketing podcast. We're joined by Marc Osofsky, the Senior Vice President and General Manager at Lionbridge Technologies, to discuss how to accelerate revenue growth by entering new markets with new products using a thorough product strategy.

In our first segment, Marc tells us how he located his hidden growth opportunity by using various forms of detailed market research. Leveraging this research is how Mark and his CEO worked together to build a business product strategy that aligned with the overall corporate strategy. 

Next, Mark walks us step-by-step through the various stages of his product strategy process including determining objectives, developing a brand promise for a new set of customers, sizing up the competition and building a differentiated set of capabilities that allowed Lionbridge to win in the new product market. Mark then discusses how he and his team built their product roadmap and goes into detail about the various things encountered like developing and integrating the product, marketing, sales and HR strategies into the broader strategy for this new market.

In our last segment, Mark sends us off with three tactics on product strategy you could put into effect in year one, year two, and year three in order to help continue making your number.

Understanding product strategy is just one small part of hitting your number year after year. For more weekly sales and marketing insights like this, subscribe and leave us a review! Your feedback will help us improve our show and continue to bring you content that keeps you at the top of your game.

Direct download: AP1552-Marc_Osofsky.mp3
Category:Product Strategy -- posted at: 10:00am EST

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