Is the maturation of B2B product management and marketing keeping up with the demands of the market?

B2B technology companies today bear little if any resemblance to those of the mid to late 90’s, yet a big chunk of the industry is still practicing product management and product marketing the exact same way it did 20-25 years ago.

Throw in the COVID-19 pandemic and everything has changed for most of our markets (and us)?

The 90s version of B2B product management and product marketing is highly product centric.

  • Most products are still managed and marketed as separate entities without much regard to the collective value of sibling products that all target the same markets and customers.
  • The main driver behind each product is still the financial and strategic goals of our company, not those of the customer organization! It’s inside-out product management at its finest!
  • There’s still a huge disconnect between our company value story and the positioning of each product.
  • We’re marketing and selling products more than we are business outcomes.
  • Customer onboarding emphasizes learning the product more than using it to get specific outcomes.

With the growing emphasis on quantifiable customer value, each product team can no longer afford to march to its own drummer. The resulting silos, competing priorities and value messages that don’t differentiate can paralyze an organization.

Give the Market What It Wants!

If the market is hell-bent on measurable customer value, and they absolutely should be, let’s give it to them! Why not shift our approach from products to customer outcomes?

For those who say, “we’re already doing it,” great job! But if we’re only doing it at a user level, it’s not nearly enough. Understanding strategic customer value starts at the top of the customer organization and ends with users. It’s not user value for each product that we convince ourselves is “strategic” to the executive buyer.

The biggest benefit of the customer-value-first approach is the alignment of sales, marketing and products to a common set of customer outcomes that have known strategic value. It sure beats the fragmented product by product approach that too often has product teams, marketing and sales going in all different directions.

The customer-value-first approach also simplifies execution across all disciplines because sales, marketing and product priorities are collectively aligned to the highest business priorities of our target customers.

Here’s the thing. Product priorities are always debatable. Target customer priorities across any given market are not! If the product investments across our portfolios, and the positioning of them, can be mapped directly to high-value customer outcomes, what’s left to debate? Not much!

Benefits of a Customer-Value-First Approach

The maturation of product management and product marketing benefits every part of the organization.

  1. Fewer Redundancies – For example, market requirements are more centralized. Instead of gathering market requirements for each product, a much smaller team of people will gather top-down business requirements for each market segment and distribute/communicate them across the organization so that everyone sees the same markets through the exact same lens. Product requirements will obviously remain with each product team.
  2. A Tiered Value Story – If we’re going to tell executive buyers that our solutions improve profitability, drive growth, create a superior customer experience, etc. there better be a direct line of sight to the operational obstacles we eliminate across departments and job roles to get those outcomes. Otherwise it’s a fluffy marketing story with zero credibility.
  3. Customer Onboarding & Implementation – A focus on quantifiable outcomes forces customer-facing teams to start with the end in mind. Implementations become a matter of eliminating the biggest obstacles standing in the way of those outcomes.
  4. Stronger Organizational Focus – The #1 reason we exist is to make our customers quantifiably better at whatever they do. If we accomplish that, our financial and strategic goals largely take care of themselves. It’s up to product management and product marketing to make it clear to the rest of the organization (and the market) WHAT we’re making our target customers better at doing and WHY it’s critical to their success. The clarity of that dialogue has a way of keeping all the irrelevant bullsh__ out of everyone’s way.

If you want to accelerate the maturation of your product management and product marketing teams, contact Proficientz to learn how a customer-value-first (portfolio) approach to product management and product marketing can help your organization deliver, market and sell greater strategic value.

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