“What’s in the next version?”  “What are the top priorities on the roadmap?” If you’re a product manager, you have to answer product questions like this all the time. When answered literally though, they rarely give people the information they’re looking for. Here’s how you can use non-product dialogues to answer product questions. Do it well and you’ll be hailed as one of the great product communicators. The Playbook:

When people ask product strategy or roadmap questions, they’re trying to understand how your organization is responding to certain market dynamics and/or competitive forces. When people ask questions about upcoming product releases, they’re trying to understand how products are going to meet competitive deficiencies, customer business objectives or user needs.

Structure your responses to product questions using the following formats and your stock will rise among colleagues at all levels.

Strategy & Roadmap Inquiries

Begin the response with high-level market dynamics followed by their impact on the organizations in your target markets and end with a business description of your solution.“Increasing regulatory requirements are creating enormous reporting burdens on financial services companies. Our goal is to reduce the effort and expense required for financial services companies to comply with regulatory reporting and our solutions will accomplish this by…”

Product Plan/Release Inquiries

Begin the response by framing a business objective. Then follow it with one or more user scenarios that support the business objective and end with the product capabilities that support those scenarios.“Customer service departments want to improve the customer experience by reducing the average time it takes to satisfy an inquiry. They can reduce this time significantly by presenting CSRs with a list of next best actions. “Our next release will…”  

Great product communicators use market and business dialogues as the pre-cursor to all product discussions. The clarity of the dialogue is as valuable to communicating product plans and strategies as it is to delivering value to the market via your products and services.

Want to learn how to communicate in a business value dialogue? Contact us to discuss a personalized hands-on workshop using your markets and your products. You’ll walk away knowing what good looks like for you!

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