Level Up Your Career
Learn the best practices and latest trends directly from leaders in your field
All related (7)
Lizzy Masotta
Senior Product Lead at Shopify | Formerly Salesforce, Google, Nest, Cisco SystemsMarch 28

A common mistake exec teams make is focusing on output and forgetting about outcomes. Product teams present roadmaps to execs and once they’ve shipped a thing, they tell them it’s complete and move onto the next.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what’s on your roadmap or what you’ve successfully shipped if you’re not moving the needle in the outcomes you care about.

Questions to align on with your team to help you get there:

  1. Do we have clearly defined desired outcomes for your team?
  2. Do we have alignment on these outcomes with leadership / execs?
  3. Do we have a way to regularly measure progress against these outcomes?
  4. Do we have a ritual (ex: recurring meeting) where progress towards these outcomes are reviewed?

The onus is on you to change the culture in your group to focus on outcomes. What you present to leaders is a key first step. Once they become familiar with the outcomes and your progress or lack thereof towards them, the conversation around investing in strategic product initiatives becomes simpler.

Kara Gillis
Sr. Director of Product Management at Splunk May 31

I love this question. The answer is: it depends on the exec team and how they are motivated, whether they are answering to private investors or public shareholders, etc. 

But - to put it simply - find someone on your exec staff who both 1) trusts you/your vision and sell them the vision and 2) is trusted by the rest of the executive team and can sell your vision or has the budget authority to invest.

What do you need to sell it? A business case. I think of a business case as satisfying the inputs to the following equation: 

"why should we do this" + "what do we need to do" + "how much it going to cost us" = "eventual benefit to us"

Many templates exist for things like this, like North Star exercises, Market/Products Requirements Documents, and Amazon's PRFAQ. Your organization probably has a template they prefer, or you can introduce an existing template to your organization if it doesn't. Just make sure it has:

  1. The "why", which can come from a couple places: Untapped opportunity in an adjacent market your product could address, Customer feedback requesting this investment (this is the most compelling way to back up your assertions) bolstered by competitive pressures (this makes exec teams sweat)
  2. Requirements and costs. Understanding the upfront engineering investment, ongoing COGS, and time horizon to reach projected ROI
  3. Some kind of financial projection. How accurate are these? Depends on how much data you can get to influence your assumptions.
Preethy Vaidyanathan
Head of Product at Matterport January 25

Focus on alignment. Aligning differentiation into the product development process, cross-functional team members, go-to-market planning and goal setting. This will ensure that there are collective voices across the teams highlighting differentiation as a strategic investment and helping influence your exec teams.

Here are a few tactics you can deploy:

  • Leverage your core differentiation pillars in product activities. Roadmap communication, product launch demos, buy/build/partner analysis, beta program etc.
  • Build alignment with your cross-functional partners across Sales, Customer success, BD, and Marketing to leverage product differentiation in Sales enablement, Partner communication and GTM planning activities.
  • If your company uses Objective Key Results (OKRs) or another goal-setting framework; PMs can leverage this to tie product differentiation investments to company goals

This will ensure it's not just the product teams who think about differentiation. However, leverage differentiation as a strategic and sustainable bet for your company’s success.

Milena Krasteva
Sr Director II, Product Management - Marketing Technology at Walmart March 31

If your exec team has not articulated a credible product strategy it could be that they don't know how or they feel that they cannot invest at this time due to much bigger near term issues or constraints. Consider what that might be saying about the viability of the company either way, and a potential switch. If you are still compelled, one way is to try using the voice of the customer: ie compile direct feedback on where your customers want to see your company go to continue being customers and couple this with a competitive strategy comparison.