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To continue from yesterday’ post on bringing the article Top 10 Business Trends That will Drive Success in 2016 down to a more practical/personal level, here are points 6-10. But before diving in, a bit of Dilbert on success …

6 – leaders will invest in a corporate culture of customer service to grow revenue – I touched upon this topic in a recent post titled Reorient on the ‘Why’.  In that post, the point is made product managers should be aligned to markets or vertical industry segments … and they should be using market and customer insights to drive entire portfolios of products.  Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why is a wonderful resource here.

7 – leading companies will measure and deliver results, not just solutions – as a product manager, if you cannot clearly identify how your product/program fits into the overall company direction and strategic goals, you need to be asking yourself why not. Do yourself a favor and develop a dashboard that at a minimum highlights the following:

  • Revenue/Pipeline – this is generally one area every product manager is measured against. So a clear indication of YTD revenue against plan is advisable to track on a monthly basis. Having a clear view of what is in the various stages of the pipeline will also help here.
  • Milestones – every product has either a release or several releases in flight. Tracking the major milestones and stage gate decisions is critical. In most cases, this should also be tracking whether or not the program is on schedule, on budget, and on scope.
  • Goals – status against each of your goals for the year is also a must. In most cases, product managers will be measured by revenue, whether or not commitments are met (i.e. – releases out generally when they are agreed to be out), thought leadership activities, and perhaps a stretch goal). Make sure you are following the SMART approach to your goals and tracking them regularly.
  • Overall Program Status Summary – each of the above sections should utilize a Green, Yellow Red designation, and the overall status should be an aggregation of those areas (weighted if necessary) with a rationale to justify the status. This section should also identify/track major risks and mitigation strategies.

8 – creative businesses will introduce fun and games to engage customer and employees  – I like this point.  Yes, our worlds get chaotic as we battle external (or internal) hurdles as we strive to achieve the goals we set for the year.  But if we are passionate about what we are doing, there is no reason not to have fun at the same time. I touch upon this in my post Passion, Purpose, & Excellence.

9 – the best companies will tightly integrate content marketing into their sales process – in the Forbes article, the author makes the point You have two options: 1) Provide valuable, impartial content to support their research, or 2) Allow your customer to get their information from other sources. Google your product, group, company (whichever most resembles the distinctive competence you think you are espousing).  Or visit the places online where your customers frequent.  What is your presence?  Are you having the influence you desire? As the product management leader, if you are not happy with the answer, it perhaps is time to better collaborate with your product marketing counterparts.

10 – rapid growth companies will invest in developing “selling/solving” skills for non-salespeople – sometimes this feels like a “duh”, but what I’ve learned is not every product manager thinks Master Storyteller is part of their job description. It needs to be.

From the post … There certainly was not a solution selling approach, but rather a “let me take this product I am responsible for and try to find a place for it”. The task I was given was to craft the message so it made sense to the customer, to the marketplace, to the consumer … and most of all painted the company in the light of being the market leader it had always been.

Spend time understanding who your customers are … determine what their pain points are … ascertain how your distinctive competence fills their need (or what gaps you might have) … orient the story on the ‘why’ to persuade them.