Friday, March 21, 2014

Creating product evangelists

I've been spending time recently with sales, education, and other teams talking about new products.  A challenge these teams face is their distance from the original product design decisions (and the discussions surrounding them).  This can put them at a disadvantage with customers.  Without a deeper appreciation for the design intent, they may struggle to adapt beyond feature/function.  This can lead to missed opportunities or an overreliance on product development.
Here a two tips for creating product evangelists from within your teams of colleagues.
Invite other teams to product design sessions
Members of other teams bring valuable perspectives.  This alone is a great contribution.  Equally important is the insight they receive to the assumptions, alternatives, and choices made during the design process.  These insights provide knowledge and confidence during future customer interactions.  For example, when a customer makes a recommendation for an alternative, they might reply, "Great comment.  We considered that during design and here were our thoughts…"

Teach more than features
When you interact with a colleague, take a few moments to go beyond a simple "how-to" explanation of a feature.  After you explain it, review why the feature exists.  What user problem is being solved?  How does it make them more efficient? Effective?  What alternatives were considered and rejected? Why were they rejected?
Recognize that product development has the deepest understanding of the intention for the product.  We literally are with it from conception to delivery.  We must use every interaction with others to infuse them with the knowledge, hopes, and aspirations we have for the product.   That, in turn, makes the other teams significantly more effective.

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