Charm School for Product Managers

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Information about Charm School for Product Managers
Business & Mgmt

Published on June 30, 2012

Author: sraisty



Sue Raisty-Egami of Sure Product Consulting gave this presentation at P-Camp Silicon Valley.

This presentation gives pragmatic tips about how to handle sticky situations product managers find themselves in every day.

One example: how to handle a customer who demands a definitive release date and feature list when it is too early for you to know. Another situation: dealing with situations when Sales has misrepresented the product to the customer. And many more....

V{tÜÅ fv{ÉÉÄ V{ f { Ä yyÉÜ c cÜÉwâvà ` z `tÇtzxÜáCopyright 2009 Sure ProductConsulting, Inc. All rights reserved. P-Camp Silicon Valley March 14, 2009

Why Charm School? y2 Product Managers tend to have good interpersonal skills… …but it helps to have responses ready for common sticky situations Charming PMs have easier lives!

Ever Been Tongue-Tied in These Situations?3 Customer angry about poor quality or missing functionality Customer demands feature X or release date Y Sales blames all losses on the p product or price p Sales makes unrealistic/false product claims Development violently disagrees with your product plans. Sales/Marketing/anyone makes a request you can’t/won’t do can t/won t

Basic Principles p4 Set expectations correctly CustomerPerception CustomerSatisfaction = CustomerExpectations Assume the other person is smart & has legitimate feedback Be empathetic Don’t be too blunt Listen! Don’t take it personally Use “WE” not “I”

Basic Technique #1 q5 Separate Signal from Noise Separate the core complaint from the p personal attack Address only the core complaint l i t

Basic Technique #2 q6 “The Sandwich” “Th S d i h” Use to deliver bad news Use to criticize or provide feedback 1. Start with something positive… 2. Then deliver the negative… 2 Th d li th ti 3 Wrap up with another positive Don’t use if you can’t be sincere! Don’t have this be the only time you praise / say something nice!

Basic Technique #3 q7 “Frankly, my dear, I DO give a damn.” y, y , g 1. LACE 1. Listen to their issues! (don’t respond!) 2. 2 Ask if there are any OTHER issues k th i 3. Confirm you understand – restate & repeat 1-3 until they are satisfied 4. 4 Explore – iin th l theory, if th there was a way t to handle all of these issues, would they be happy & proceed? 2. 2 Explain you want to help, but you face the following obstacles: <list> 3. (Suggest some possible alternatives) 4. 4 Assure them you will keep looking for a way to address their core concerns.

8 NOW…. Let’s Practice!

Challenge 1: Customer Demands g9 “When is the next big release coming out? I need to tell my manager a date Our date. business depends on it.” “Don’t give me the run- around. Is feature X in the next release or not?” t l t?”

Challenge 2: Customer Fury g y10 “We told you we NEED feature X to work – our business depends on it! But it just DOESN’T work!” “You guys don’t know what the @#$% you’re doing!”

Challenge 3: Sales Overpromises g p11 Salesperson: “Yes, our product can do everything you’re asking you re for, plus fix the global financial meltdown. Just sign thi contract.” i this t t” Customer (to PM): ( ) “Is everything he said TRUE?”

Challenge 3 (addendum) g12 PRODUCT MANAGER PRODUCT MANAGER

Challenge 4: Sales Blames the Product (or the Price)13 “We lost this HUGE deal because our product is missing BASIC features that all our competitors have.” “The price is way too high. p y g Who came up with our pricing anyway?”

Challenge 5: Unpleasant Developers g p p14 “Your product strategy is completely stupid.” “It’s not a bug, it s an enhancement ” It s bug it’s enhancement. “You didn’t specify it the requirements/ stand-up, so it’ not gonna h t d it’s t happen.” ” <sneer>“You have no clue, product p manager . What do you do all day anyway? I’m way smarter than you. Get on the phone and sell the product, will you?”</sneer>

Other Sticky Situations y15 Announcing to customers / the field: price increases release schedule slips dropped functionality Pestering Reminding customers to make good on a promise: beta testing, being a case study subject, … Responding to Sales “This is a small deal now, but if we add huge feature X it could lead to 10s of millions next year. year ” “We need you to give a demo in Paris, tomorrow!” …Others? Others?

Words / Phrases To Use16 We’re letting you know as soon We always do our very best as possible, because we don’t to meet our stated release want you to be unexpectedly plans. But there’s always an surprised later.” element of unpredictability in “Can you explain more about software development, so we ft d l t why that is important to you? can’t put forth a definitive list Sometimes we can find a of features or definitive different way that still meets release date for some time ” time. your needs.” “I apologize for the “We appreciate your willingness inconvenience and thank you to give us feedback” for your patience and understanding” “I understand your feelings and would be similarly frustrated in your position, but…”

About Sure Product Consulting, Inc. g17 Services Product management Product marketing Coaching & mentoring for product management teams Expertise Enterprise software, software-as-a-service, virtualization, business intelligence, retail, financial institutions, highly available & scalable software, social networking Principal: Sue Raisty-Egami 10 years of experience in Product Management and Product Marketing 5 years as software developer and business strategy consultant Former Director of Product Management and former startup entrepreneur MIT BS in computer science, Kellogg MBA in marketing Contact:

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