Adapting the Existing Product Suite for a New Market
20 January, 2021
I am responsible for a product suite that we were trying to launch in a new market. In this particular case, we were not interested in expanding in terms of geography but of a specific industry. The problem was that the initial market had a three years head start and we were rapidly growing. Because we failed to take into account the differences in the product metrics, we missed many commercial opportunities.
I started off by doing extensive product targeting as I was trying to find the right product-market fit. I would join as many customer calls as possible, which was a rather novel practice for a product role. Typically Product was not used to join customer calls before a sale would take place. We would only do that when we were building out the product and adding features.
Following on that, I had to identify products that were ready to be launched in the new market. We considered ten products altogether, but only four were ready for the new market.
I presented my Land and Expand strategy, starting with the most mature products. At that point, our products were at different development stages. Instead of saying that we only had product A and that product B was not available, I reframed it into saying that we would recommend our customers -- for their own sake -- to start with product A and then gradually move to product B. We would align with the sales team where we were with each product and would try to offer our customers what was available at that moment.
Once we would secure initial buy-in from our customers, we would focus on our less mature products. We had fewer customers and fewer data to demonstrate proof of value therefore, our sales enablement was less mature. We had to find a different way to demonstrate that, often consequently less mature too, either with more modest examples or acknowledging that we were seeking a first partner.
Finally, we had to build a material adapted for this new market explaining the differences between the two markets and to do that we leverage the sales, marketing, and product marketing teams.
- Never say no. It is easy to say no to a wrongly structured opportunity and curtail the prospective sale, but that is hardly properly understood. Most likely, people will think that you are acting to protect someone/thing and are not thinking about the success of a sales team.
- You have to demonstrate confidence in your product even if it is a new market. You should be excited -- and even over-excited -- and be able to sell it internally first. The support your excitement will bring will help the sales team to sell it externally.
- Rather than explaining the difference between the two markets, just pursue your goals. I spent a lot of time trying to explain it, only to realize that no one cares. You should be the one to understand it and act on it while other functions should follow and do what is asked of them. Don’t try to convince them, just shoot ahead.
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