There’s a significant difference between learning product management skills and going through a product management training course. Learning is where things get far more interesting.

From the time I was a teenager, I aspired to be a decent golfer – just good enough to beat my friends at the time and not embarrass myself later on in life when playing with colleagues or clients. Over the years I’ve taken several golf lessons where I’d spend an hour or two with an instructor at the practice range, learning techniques for improving my golf game. It was helpful.

But I always thought it would be far more helpful to have the golf instructor accompany me on the golf course while I play a round of golf and teach me how to hit shots in all the different situations I encounter on each hole. I’d retain those skills and play consistently better for a longer period of time.

That same philosophy applies when it comes to learning and developing skills for product management, marketing and sales.

Classroom training is valuable, but teaching people how to use those skills when they need them, in real-world circumstances, is far more effective.

  • For individuals, retention goes up exponentially because there’s no time lapse between learning new skills and applying them to real-world situations at hand.
  • For organizations, this approach builds long-term competence for delivering, marketing and selling solutions that address unmet customer needs, regardless of the organizational chaos that’s constantly swirling around the products.

Here’s the thing. Learning how to manage, market and sell products and services in a B2B and B2B2C world is nothing short of complex. But the most difficult part by far and away, is doing from the customer’s perspective.

It’s one thing to understand what customer-driven means. Making it part of your DNA at an execution level is a completely different animal. Here’s why.

The hardest thing for any organization to do is to understand its target customers as well as or better than those customers understand themselves, and let that customer perspective drive everything. Organizations that start with, or eventually achieve this level of customer knowledge inherently create a sustainable growth model because they’re always aligned to the goals that are most important to their target customers, and they consistently find ways to eliminate the big hurdles.

Here’s a simple test. Ask yourself these three yes/no questions.

  1. Can we articulate our product strategy without any reference to our products/services, using only the customer’s business vocabulary?
  2. Are the bold headings and graphics that “jump out” in our marketing materials and website about the customer?
  3. Can 80% of our sales force have a business conversation with a customer executive about industry dynamics and their business strategy, without talking about our products?

If you answered yes to all three, you’re on a roll. Anything less means you have tremendous upside for growth.

Situational learning is a model our client’s have never explicitly asked for. But when I look at how the organizations that are fully committed to being customer-driven have engaged us, it’s essentially what they want, just like my golf example.

If you’re fully committed to aligning your organization’s priorities to the business priorities of your target customers and creating a sustainable growth model, contact us today for details on our Situational Learning Program for product, marketing, sales and client services teams. When you know your target customers as well or better than they know themselves, everything is easier!