NOTE: The following is a guest post by John Mansour. If you want to submit your own guest post, click here for more information
Many of the day-to-day challenges executing product, marketing and sales initiatives are directly related to the approach organizations use to form their product strategies. A simple change in the approach to product strategy yields significant improvements in the day-to-day execution of product, marketing and sales activities.
To reap the benefits of improved execution there are two fundamental elements of strategy to consider. One requires a downsized approach while the other requires a super-sized definition.
- Downsize your approach from multiple product strategies to a single overarching strategy for your entire portfolio.
- Then super-size your definition of strategy beyond R&D investments and include marketing, positioning and sales components.
The results improve execution on two fronts. First, your marketing and sales teams become highly proficient at positioning, differentiating and selling high-value solutions that reflect capabilities of your entire suite of existing products and services. This translates into more revenue from existing products and greater impact on short term revenue goals by simply articulating and demonstrating a stronger value story.
Meanwhile, product teams operate with the focus of a single overarching strategy and a single set of priorities that greatly improve utilization of R&D resources and don’t limit the size and scope of market opportunities to individual products. A single portfolio strategy gives product teams a wider market lens to uncover bigger and broader market needs that are more valuable to buyers and the entire portfolio of products and services at their disposal to address those needs with greater impact.
Use the following guidelines to put the two elements of your strategy in place.
Short Term Revenue Focus via Marketing & Sales Execution
Build the marketing and sales component of your strategy by answering the following who, what, why and how questions. Then utilize the collective capabilities of all products in your portfolio to ensure you’re positioning existing solutions with maximum value and impact.
- Who (target market segments) values our strengths most?
- What are their most critical needs/challenges we currently address?
- Why are our solutions unique or more valuable than the competition?
- How do our solutions advance the strategies of organizations in these markets?
Longer Term Growth Focus via High-Value Product Solutions
Build the product component of your strategy by answering the following who, what, why and how questions. Utilize the collective capabilities of all products in your portfolio to deliver solutions with maximum value and impact and build new products where necessary to strengthen or differentiate your solutions.
- Who (target market segments) will value our strengths most over the next 1-3 years?
- What are their most critical needs/challenges we’re capable of addressing?
- Why will our solutions be unique or more valuable than the competition?
- How will these solutions advance the strategies of organizations in these markets?
In some form or fashion, most organizations answer these questions, but they’re doing it for each product. And that’s where execution problems begin. When you multiply the number of products by the number of short and long term opportunities for each, then attempt to collate that enormous matrix into strategic plans let alone a series of resourced projects, it creates many internal and often invisible tug-of-war battles for resources, influence and mindshare that impede execution on all fronts.
Result: it’s difficult for an organization to establish market momentum or market leadership in any area of competency when it spreads its resources too thin pursuing opportunities that go in too many directions.
Superior execution in product, marketing and sales disciplines is paramount to market leadership. The lynchpin to out-executing your competition may lie in a single market and portfolio strategy that elevates the who, what, why and how questions to a level that’s most valuable to the organization. Products are the means to the end.
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John Mansour is the founder and president of Proficientz, a company that specializes in B2B product portfolio management.