November 29

Should You Sell Future Features or Sell What You Have?

You need to let people know about your product. Should you stick to only talking about the features the product currently has? Should you wax poetically about your vision of the features that your product will have soon? Should you under-promise and over-deliver? The proper approach varies depending on the maturity of your product and the nature of your market and may involve not talking about features at all.

Startup sales: Should you sell the future vision or the current reality of your product? You have a vision for the potential of your product. Your awesome product solves your customers’ needs better than anything else in the marketplace, and your customers love you. Then, you open your eyes and see a crude and buggy first version of a product. Many features are lacking. The UI is just functional enough to let people use it. Focusing your sales pitch on the reality of your situation stifles sales. However, when you sell too much on vision, you overpromise and under deliver. Both of these scenarios are a recipe for disaster. Steli Efti explains how you can balance the vision for your product and the reality when selling to customers.

(via @Steli)

If you don’t set expectations, someone else will. Ultimately, deciding whether to sell based on features you might have versus selling the features you have now is a matter of setting expectations. You need to set the right expectations for your product — and you need to help your stakeholders understand that the roadmap is a guide, not a promise. Maddy Kirsch explains the importance of setting expectations and tips on how to set expectations effectively.

(via @MaddyKirsch@ProductPlan )

Sell the future. If you work on a B2B solution it’s always a good idea to validate market demand for a new feature before you dive in head first to build it. One way to validate market demand is to sell that unbuilt feature. This will tell you if people are interested in the feature and are willing to pay for it. This approach may also help finance your development costs. Anders Toxbe describes the Sell the Future play as one approach you can use to validate the problem you’re trying to solve.

(via @toxboe)

How to build a roadmap for early market products selling to technology enthusiasts and visionaries. When you decide whether to sell future features or only the features you have you need to consider when, how, and why to put together a roadmap. “The definition of roadmap changes as your product matures, and you might easily mess up your product by building the wrong type of roadmap with a bunch of artifacts and details that you don’t need.” Hristo Borisov explains that “before you build any kind of roadmap,” and decide whether to share it, “you need to understand the maturity of your product and market.”

(via @hristoborisov)

Why the best product managers don’t build the features their users ask for. Theodore Levitt, one of the fathers of modern marketing argued way back in 1960, that “businesses should stop defining themselves by what they produced and instead define themselves by customer needs, desires and problems.” Going by that line of thinking, the question shouldn’t be should you sell future features or current features. You should sell your product based on what problems it solves for customers. Abhishek Madhavan explains why you should adopt a customer orientation rather than a product orientation to more effectively sell your product.

(via @AbhishekMadhavn)

Kent J McDonald

About the author

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft with a variety of product teams and provides just in time resources for product people at and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.


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