The leaky bucket is a known metaphor in sales. If your funnel isn’t converting well, there is no point in adding more leads into it, since they will not convert and there is no gain here. But the truth is, that not only will it not result in a positive impact, it can also actually cause you harm. To understand why, we need to switch to another water-related metaphor: the clogged pipe.

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If you ever worked in a B2B startup, you know that you are chasing opportunities. A large potential customer comes in, and you need to shift priorities to do whatever it takes in order to convert them. In most cases, there is so much that you need to do to make it happen. Everyone works really hard, and the success rate is far from 100%.

Sounds familiar? Let’s see why it happens.

Think about your sales funnel like a pipe. I like to describe it using Dave McLure’s AARRR framework: you are pouring leads into the pipe on the left, and you get happy customers on the other side of the pipe on the right. …


Educating the market is hard enough as is, but there is one thing without which you cannot succeed. There has to be an unmet need that you can answer. And yes, even Facebook had one.

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I remember exactly the day I joined Facebook. It was Friday, November 16th, 2007. That morning I attended my informal high-school reunion. We met at a local park. It was a sunny morning, and people brought their spouses and kids. Despite meeting good friends and enjoying great food, I found myself constantly thinking about how everyone else already has families or is at least about to get married, while I wasn’t even in a relationship. I felt so lonely.

The loneliness and sadness stuck with me well into the afternoon. I felt I needed to do something to get over it. At first, I visited JDate.com after a very long break. I browsed profiles there for a few minutes, saw one profile I liked, and sent a quick message from their built-in options. I was there for a total of 5 minutes or so, I didn’t feel it was helping me at all. I still felt lonely. That’s when I logged in to Facebook for the first time. …


Everyone knows educating the market is hard to nearly impossible, but people always bring up examples like Facebook or the iPhone whenever I discuss it in my lectures. So what can and cannot work when you want to educate the market? It’s all about what you want to educate them on.

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Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Educating the market has a bad reputation. On the one hand, the general advice is to stay away from it, but on the other hand, some actually claim that this is the right way to go, the new way of selling. You want to educate your audience rather than to sell to them directly. Become their trusted advisor, and the rest will follow. So who is right?

Let’s start from the beginning.

Any form of marketing involves educating the market on something. Even if you are advertising in order to build your brand (think Coca-Cola or Nike), you are educating the market on the kind of company you are (or the kind you want to be, but that’s for a different post). If you are simply advertising your product, you are educating the market on the product and on why it is better than the competition, namely your unique value proposition. …


Strategic product thinking is hard. Especially when done as an afterthought - when the product is already in the market — it is nearly impossible to rise above specific features and metrics. Here is a framework that will help you do just that.

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When I first started teaching product management (at IDC’s Adelson School of Entrepreneurship), I needed a way to break down strategic product thinking into distinct components that would help people understand and focus on one aspect each time. I created a model called “The Product Circuit”, which I have since used in product strategy processes with dozens of companies and in my lectures when I explain the journey to product-market fit.

The model includes four components that need to work together in order to create a successful product, especially if you want one that isn’t only loved by a few but also drives significant business success for the company through mass-market adoption. …


Problem-solving is one of the core characteristics of product managers. But the ability to solve customer problems does not always translate into the ability to solve problems for your own company. It is a slightly different skill to master, but very important for your ability to succeed.

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Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

When I was head of product at eBay I participated in an executive leadership training program. One of the sessions was a panel of senior executives from both eBay and PayPal (they were still together at the time). The panel included people from different backgrounds and professions, from entrepreneurs who joined the company through an acquisition and landed right at the top, to people who started as CS reps and now run the whole organization. They told us their stories and answered questions from the audience.

One of the questions was about what distinguishes those who succeed and climb up the organizational ladder from those who don’t. At this point, the panel almost unanimously agreed, that to succeed you must be someone who solves problems for senior management. …


The strategic process requires you to interview potential customers to better understand what they need. Talking to customers is important also on an ongoing basis, to make sure you are staying in touch with the market. But what do you need to ask in these interviews? There are a few common pitfalls to avoid, so here is a quick guide.

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Photo by Photography Maghradze PH from Pexels

I often help my customers prepare for meetings with their customers and prospects. Many times, these meetings include specific questions that they want to get answers to. But when I review the list of questions they prepare in advance, I often see questions that wouldn’t really get them the information that they need, and after our preparation work, the list includes very different questions.

I collected a few of the common mistakes people are making in customer interviews and customer research into this guide so that you can avoid them the next time you need to interview a customer. As a matter of fact, you should use this guide whenever you talk to a customer, whether your intention was to interview them or not. …


Leadership without authority is product management 101. You must master it to succeed, in most cases with developers. But as a product executive, you must take it to the next level — and this time use it with the entire management team.

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Last week’s learning session in the CPO Bootcamp was dedicated to product strategy. One of the things I said there is that strategy starts with the goals. To create a solid product strategy you must understand the company goals, but more than that — you must help the company break them down and make sure they make sense. I have said this based on countless times that I have seen the important insights that these discussions have surfaced, and the new level of understanding and focus of the business goals that companies were able to achieve as a result.

Towards the end of the session, a heated discussion started. One of the product executives participating in the program said that he feels this is problematic because it is not humble. Why should we as product leaders know better than others about business goals? It is between the CEO to the CRO, CMO, the CFO. Why should I as a product leader even get into this? …


When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. As a product leader, other people, and maybe you as well, will lead every conversation with you towards features and product capabilities. While this is where your direct ownership is, as a product leader you don’t have the luxury to focus only on that.

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Photo by Spencer Selover from Pexels

I recently started to binge-watch all the way from season one. One of the things I noticed was that the legal tools seemed to be the tools that the characters used most of the time, even for areas other than proper work. For example, the constant fighting between Harvey and Louis often boils down to the details of the by-laws and whether or not they apply in this case. I’m sure you would agree that there are many other ways to settle disputes between colleagues. Also in their personal lives, lawsuits are often mentioned as a means to get something sorted out: “are you going to sue him?” was used more than once. Not the natural choice for most of us. …


Fully applying a data-driven approach to your product is hard. You need to invest a lot in building the infrastructure that will allow you to measure everything you want, see it clearly in a dashboard, and take action based on it. But metrics are a very powerful tool that you don’t want to give up on, even if you will never measure anything.

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Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

“Do I really need to start measuring everything that happens on the product?”
That was the question that S., the CPO of a startup that has a great product in the market asked me with a sigh. You could hear the frustration in his voice. Going all-in into data and measurements is not trivial, and even more so when you are a startup that has good traction and hence a lot of other product investments you want to make.

While my answer to S. was that yes, he needs to start measuring because at some point this would become an amazing decision-making mechanism for the entire company, I can fully understand why it seems too big to even start. My advice to S. was to start the other way around: assume you can easily measure anything you want, and you already have amazing dashboards. …


When the CEO sets the strategy, what is your role as a product leader? How can you be strategic when the strategy is set by someone else? Surprisingly, there is no contradiction there, and in most cases, there is more room for you than you think. You just have to know where to look for it.

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Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

M. is the CPO of a hype scale-up. When we were working on building their strategic roadmap, he asked me a great question: “why do I need to start with the strategy, and specifically when presenting to management? It was management who set the strategy anyway, so they already know it”.

This reflects the common misconception that strategy is a very high-level thing. When working from this misconception, the strategy remains very thin — a general direction usually, and once it’s set, the only thing you can do is execute on it.

Fortunately for us product leaders, this is not the case. Unfortunately, many product leaders haven’t thought this through and feel more bounded by the CEO’s guidelines than they should be. Switching your point of view on strategy can go a long way in helping you become more strategic, so here is a quick guide. …

About

Noa Ganot

Helping product executives and their companies grow. Formerly VP Product @Twiggle, Head of Product @eBay Israel and Senior Product @Imperva. www.ganotnoa.com

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