and the winner is...

Hooray! I won!!

Last week I flew to San Jose to attend the Business of Software 2007 and to join in the software idol contest. Five speakers, ten minutes each. I took the advice of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of US, who wrote:

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.

I was sincere (well, okay, I was funny) but I think the trick was that I was brief; my final time was about 7 minutes while all the others ran long.

The speech got me thinking about sales training. How many times over the years have we droned on and on about features to an audience still a little stumped by their Blackberries? Kevin, the world’s worst sales person, says “Don’t confuse me with what the product does. Just tell me what I need to say to beat the competition.”

At a sales training, every speaker ran long. The VP of Sales said, “I know I scheduled you for 45 minutes so we’ll delay cocktail hour until you’re finished.” Oh great! The only thing between a group of sales people and their drunkenness is a product manager! Solution: “There are three things you need to know about the product: here’s how to sell it; here’s how it’s priced; here’s how we’ll support you with awareness and leads. Everything else is on the sales intranet. That’s all!” The only one who got a standing ovation from sales people was this product manager.

Neither sales people nor customers are nearly as interested in the inner workings of your technology as you and your developers are. Tuned in product managers know that we have to communicate what the customer needs to know in the language of the customer, not the language of the vendor.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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