Whether you a bootstrapping a new app or looking for faster growth in an enterprise segment, your team wants to build a market-beating product machine. Defeating your competitors in the race to gain market share isn’t a matter of luck, or charismatic leadership, or pure technological innovation…although having a bit of any of those three wouldn’t hurt.
You need to establish four distinct yet tightly integrated disciplines that span the traditional functional boundaries of Sales, Marketing, Product Management, and Engineering. This post will define the components, and leave space for future posts to expand the descriptions and discuss how to boost proficiency in each.
Build, Ship, and Test in Rapid Cycles
This component encompasses not only agile (you decide little “a” or big “A,” I’m not going there right now!) software development, but also DevOps and user experience testing.
- software development: scope, develop, and release high-quality code that delivers meaningful value to buyers and users.
- DevOps: test, deploy, and support the product to achieve high availability and high performance, at scale.
- User Experience: study how users interact with and experience the product to reduce friction (the bad kind) and increase stickiness (the good kind). This information can be obtained from users who are aware (in scheduled in-person sessions) and unaware (in anonymous A/B tests) of their participation.
Launch to Increase Sales Velocity
This component encompasses not only marketing (again you choose the case of the initial consonant, while I watch from the sideline), but also training and communication.
- Product Launch: time-bound campaigns with narrowly defined audiences, objectives, and tactics designed to increase sales velocity (opportunity count times average deal size times win rate, divided by average sales cycle length). Retrospectives from launch campaigns can inform the next product development cycle as well as advancing the launch practice across products.
- Training: ensuring that sales, demo, and commercial staff, both within your company and your channel partners, understand how to differentiate the product in order to win and close deals bigger, faster, and more often (see sales velocity above).
- Communication: internal recognition and awareness of the latest product version might not directly impact sales, but certainly helps to build engagement.
Inform the Roadmap with Competitive Intelligence
Feedback from the market comes in many forms. An effective competitive intelligence component can both discern broad trends and extract precise insights to help expand, refine, and prioritize the product roadmap elements.
- Analysts: as the subject matter experts who help to arbitrate between the supply and demand sides of the market, analysts’ rankings can help you prioritize strengths and weaknesses relative to your competitors. Analysts can also help to tilt the playing field in your favor through relationships shaped by strong briefings.
- Customers: advisory boards, implementation/installation projects, customer success ans support interactions all provide meaningful data points as to how your product lines up with their aspirations and afflictions.
- Win/loss: understanding specifically why your product drops out at each stage of the sales cycle, and surfacing gaps in perception between your buyers and sellers, can provide clarity on your competitive position both head-to-head with named opponents and compared to market expectations in general.
- Market mapping: segmenting and quantifying the addressable markets can answer “where to play” and inform “how to win.”
Invest to Close Gaps and Widen Moats
Collecting and coalescing all the feedback from user testing, launch retrospectives, and various sources of competitive intelligence, it’s time to prioritize and assign resources to the next set of goals for development.
- Build: based on the velocity and capabilities of your scrum teams, assign the goals internally. Hire, train, and develop as needed to grow this branch of investment.
- Buy: fire up the M&A machine to acquire your competitors for their technology, for their customers, or to take them out of the market.
- Partner: secure technology or services partnerships that give you access to markets and/or capabilities that your buyers value, faster than you could achieve them organically.
Each of these components will need to follow its own path of process maturity. Regardless, the largest benefits for your business will arrive as these components work better together. So, no matter where you are on the spectrum of crawling, walking, or running, start to establish the close integration between these four components and watch your product machine eat the market.
This post appeared originally on leadertainment.com