Your best (internal) influencers
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
You may have noticed that sometimes, not many of your colleagues are naturally interested in the market, the product or the topic you are responsible for. This is sad to say (and to write) but this is the reality. Because the market you are responsible for has a lot of local specifications that are hard to deal with. Or the product you are the Product manager for is quite secondary in the portfolio of your company. Or because the topic you are managing is just lacking of awareness. These cases are not the exception. They are rather the rule and this is quite normal: every team needs to filter inputs in order to prioritize its work.
However, even though your market, product or topic is not “top of mind”, they exist. And if they exist this is because they also provide added value to your company: orders, revenue, brand image, etc. So it is key to continue bringing your projects to the next level, not only for your own motivation but also for your company goals. Easier said than done, though.
Most of the time we try to convince our colleagues by saying: "To target properly my market, you should do that". Or: "To promote my product, do that". We think that telling what should be done is faster. On top as specialist of a market, a product or whatever topic, we tend to impose our views to others, sometimes with an unconscious touch of arrogance, because we are the specialists, right? But this doesn't work out. Not only people don't like to receive orders (myself the first one) but also they don't get the keys to understanding further your market, product, topic so they don’t feel much involved. Logical. I experienced this in a way, two months ago.
This was when I noticed that a promising newly launched product was not really fitting the market I was responsible for, France. In order to explain my worries and start improving the situation, I contacted the Product Manager sending him an email with my remarks. In return he shared his own point of view. Everything was very insightful and even exciting. So, more motivated than ever, I gave a feedback... to his feedback... And so he did. Result: we have entered into a stimulating feedback loop. It was nice. But it was still a loop... not productive.
At one point I thought in organizing a meeting so sharing views would be faster and easier. Kill the email! However I had the feeling it wouldn't change much. Instead, I decided not to do anything for several days, what is often the most productive path to follow: taking distance, things become clear naturally. This is when I got a simple idea to convince more efficiently my colleague about the adaptions that were needed to improve our Product-Market-Fit.
So I completely changed my approach: no more words about what should be done, but concrete examples. I basically look at how competitors were communicating about a similar product and I consolidated everything into market trends. One slide per trend. For each trend I added several screenshots. This was very easy to do for me, as Market specialist, and didn’t take me so much time. I then met my colleague and we commented the slides together. The discussion was as interesting as in our email ping-pong, but with one big difference. This time, being 100% focused on concrete facts, we were then able to speak of very concrete actions that could be implemented, proof of the influencing power of examples.
It is too early for the story to tell what are the exact results but bringing examples on the table definitively helped with joining easily our different mindsets, the PM one on one hand and the Market one on the other hand. Life to (more) examples!