The initial stages of product paralysis begin the moment your company has its second product. Two products, two markets, two sets of users, two sets of priorities, etc.

Enter product management into the equation.  Assuming your company deems the function of product management as something more than “the enhancement list department,” product management should be leading the charge to not only prevent product priority paralysis but condition the company to avoid it.

The remedy is simple. Transform your approach from products to business solutions and simplify life for everyone.  Think of it this way. Products are what you build. Solutions are what customers do to run their business. The Playbook:

Think of each product as a feature and consider which features should be better integrated to deliver more desirable outcomes for customers.  The end result is a portfolio of industry specific solutions that your target customers perceive as higher value, e.g., payment processing solutions for retailers, data security solutions for banks, etc.

Just for clarification, your products remain horizontal but positioning and messaging is vertical and emphasizes combinations of features (across products) that produce the most desirable outcomes in each vertical.

3 Signs That Product Paralysis is Imminent

1. Your View of the Market is Limited to Horizontal Product Categories

If your market perspective is limited to horizontal product categories like CRM, workforce management, payment processing or data security, you’re fueling the “be- everything-to-everyone” fire.

Your customers are banks, telecoms, retailers, hospitals, etc. View the market the same way your target customers view themselves and everything gets easier.

Do your market analysis from a vertical perspective first so that each product can assess how vertical market trends drive the need for specific product solutions. By combining horizontal and vertical perspectives you’ll get a sense for the product combinations that form the best collective solutions for each market segment.  Multi-product solutions positioned in context of vertical market issues are the easiest way to increase average deal size.

2. Each Product is Marching to its Own Strategy

If your products have complementary value to one another (the whole is greater than the sum of the parts), individual product strategies are the kiss of death.  If each product strategy is created independently, you end up with multiple views of the same markets, multiple #1 priorities, etc.  Can you feel the paralysis setting in?

Create your portfolio strategy from the top down and let the highest value customer outcomes drive everything, including the strategy for all products collectively. Assess the vertical segments to determine which are most lucrative for you. Align product priorities accordingly to gain share your most lucrative market segments.

3. Your Value Propositions are Product Specific Only

Your target customers (banks, telecoms, retailers, etc.) want to know how your products make them better at mission-critical business functions. If your product messaging is generic, it applies to everyone, which really means it’s relevant to no one because there’s no context.

Create value propositions in context of each market segment and make sure those value propositions encompass the desired customer outcomes and the obstacles standing in their way. The number of products per sales order will go up significantly.

Relevance is the key to meaningful positioning.  If you have a migraine headache, do you buy aspirin or “Excedrin for a Migraine?”

Avoid product paralysis with the market’s only “solutions” approach to product management and product marketing. Online at your own convenience or onsite personalized to your company’s products and markets.

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