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Product Management and Win / Loss Research

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas.”

If you’re in product management, that quote from Steve Jobs probably means something to you.

As a product manager, do you feel pressure to say yes to everything your customers or co-workers want to see in your products and services? Do you ever feel like saying no to more product wish lists and wants? Of course you do. You can’t do everything at once, after all. At the end of the day, focus is critical in product management.

Think of how many constituents influence your product and service roadmap: your organization’s leadership, your sales team, your client service members and relationship managers, your current customers, your departed customers, and yes, even your prospects.

How do you keep all these voices satisfied while creating products and services that will help your organization meet its revenue goals and its customer service goals? It comes back to focus.

Your primary role as product manager should involve two key tasks – one, setting a long-term vision and strategy for your products and services; and two, communicating that vision and strategy to all those voices.

Sourcing, gathering, and studying data from these voices will help you – the product manager – focus on this vision and strategy. Collaborating internally most likely happens routinely within your organization through scheduled one-on-ones, team meetings, and cross-department meetings. You are probably not falling short on feedback or those wish list items from internal sources. Allow those data sources to contribute to your product decisions.

For those external sources – your clients (current and departed), your prospects, and your competitors – you need to find a way to gather that data. How can those voices contribute to your process? Sourcing this kind of business intelligence is fundamental to building your product roadmap.

One tool that you can use to help gather business intelligence is win / loss research. Most often thought of as a sales tool or a sales performance service, win / loss research goes beyond just sales. It supports product management by its very nature – to help organizations understand why they are winning and losing in new sales situations as well as to help organizations understand what its competition is doing in those same sales engagements. And if your products and services sit at the base of each sales situation (win or loss), why wouldn’t a win / loss program become part of your success story?