Customer Led New Product Design – Notes From The Field

Customer Led New Product Design - Notes From The Field

This invitation is for you to join me in helping one of my clients get ready to present their solution to a customer. The goal is to get them interested enough that they will make a sale.

While you’ll be familiar with a lot of the things we do, there might be some surprises.

Meet the Customer

My client met with the potential customer and presented three high-level IT options to them. The customer seemed to be interested in all three solutions presented and requested a follow-up meeting where more details would be provided. Here’s where we are at the moment.

My client didn’t have any of the product solutions I presented, so I was brought in to assist. You may have presented features that weren’t yet …!, even if this is something you have never done before.

The Plan

My client and I began the conversation by asking the question every product manager should ask before meeting customers: What do we want out of this meeting? A client has a simple goal. They want to reduce the number of possible solutions down to one and then get approval to present a solution. What could be more complicated?

The Preparation

This challenge is something that all product managers will be able to recognize. This was the best place to begin since the three solutions were already presented to the customer. We didn’t have enough time to go into each solution individually, so we had to break them down to a few more levels.

Face time was what we needed to budget for. The customer met with us for two hours during the afternoon. It was clear that this would be too much time to do a product presentation. My client and I agreed to limit the time required for the presentation and allow for some pre-discussions and wrap-ups. All that was left was to decide what topic we wanted to discuss.

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Plan The Presentation

My client wanted to do the In-Focus darkened room presentation. However, I convinced them to reconsider. They estimated that about four people would attend the customer’s side when I asked them how many. They said that it would be better to make the meeting more interactive than a presentation. The idea was well-received by them.

Presentation Content

All of this led to the final presentation. My client was not able to be neutral on this issue. Which of the three options would they like to implement? There was only one solution that they liked for a variety of technical and financial reasons.

Each solution has its pros and cons. My client was convinced to first present the two alternatives; then, I presented the one they preferred. This was an adaptation of the Goldilocks strategy “too hot or too cold, but just right.”

As my client was creating the materials for the meeting, I asked them to include enough detail about each solution so the customer could visualize the solution if it were implemented in their company. It was not possible to discuss the details of how the solution would be built or integrated with existing systems.

Last Thoughts

It’s not often that product managers have the opportunity to attend the birth of a new product, let alone one being directed by a customer. These opportunities present themselves, and product managers need to be able to guide customers through the process so they can identify their problems and help them design the best product.

You will be amazed at how great product managers can make your product(s) a success if you can do it successfully.

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