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One of my (good) habits at work is watching deal notes to see why we’re winning or losing customers - it’s a great way to keep a pulse on what’s actually happening in the market vs pitching ideas in your cushy product strategy circle (where there are no sales quotas or churn events).
In one of these recent conversations with our go-to-market team, a sales rep shared an amazing lead qualification framework with me. It was basically a gut-check to see if the opportunity was legit:
Why buy anything?
Why buy our product?
Why buy right now?
Now, I’m not in sales, and maybe this is 101 stuff, but I think it nails how to think about positioning your product - and also highlights what a lot of products get wrong.
Why buy anything? Many PMs assume that their cool idea / technical innovation has an audience. This baseline question cuts to to the heart of product market fit - is there even a clear user problem that your target customer is aware of?
Why buy our product? Assuming there is a worthy problem to solve, how does our solution rise above the crowd? I’ve written before about how PM-ing is all about having a point of view on the market - this question highlights the need to have a unique stance.
Why buy right now? If you can solve a real problem with a standout solution, there’s still the issue of timing to overcome. That’s what this question raises - how many times has a good product been too early to market? Or been mis-positioned at the wrong price point, to the wrong buyer, with an implementation and adoption cost too heavy for the user to bear?
Stepping back, these questions can help frame the 3 key elements of a solid product positioning:
Why buy anything? customer pain
Why buy our product? key differentiators
Why buy right now? compelling event
So the next time you’re in that product strategy circle pitching ideas, remember to evaluate them by asking about customer pain, key differentiators, and compelling events…because your sales team needs those answers.
I’d love to hear from readers about their attempts at product positioning - please chime in via comments👇. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
thanks to reader Harley Young for this great visual summary
further reading / references
a longer writeup on pitching your point of view vs selling features
if you have imposter syndrome in product pitch sessions, read this
an audio post on how accountability differs for product vs go-to-market teams
if you can can actually sell your product, the next hill to climb is adoption by users
childish drawing / interpretation