Product Management Training and Coaching

 

Product management is a critical function in most marketing departments. Our product management services proceed on two fronts. First, we help you create fact-based, streamlined product plans that deliver critical business results. Second, we simultaneously upgrade your department’s skills so that they can drive the entire product management process on their own.

Our product management services have four components:

  1. Assessment
  2. Workshop
  3. Coaching
  4. Evaluation

We’ve worked with over 2,000 product managers, helping them build skills and improve results. Our cadre of experienced consultant-coaches brings at least 15 year’s experience as product managers and consultants to world-class marketing organizations.

1. Assessment

Our assessments determine the capability of managers to perform the Product Manager role. Unlike psychological tests like Meyers-Briggs that are used across the full range of jobs and organizational roles, our assessments are job-specific. They test the knowledge, skills, and readiness of managers to perform as the “CEOs” of their respective products and lead the organization in both strategic thinking and execution.

Assessments have five modules. In each area, we ask “What is your department’s capability in …”

  1. Product Planning and Strategy: Market research, segmentation, and targeting; Product positioning; Sales channel and omnichannel strategy; Messaging strategy; Measuring to learn.
  2. Analytics: Calculating the three kinds of returns on investment; Creating and interpreting the Pareto Analysis of accounts; Developing a revenue forecast.
  3. Leadership: Motivating a cross-functional team; Improving sales force effectiveness.
  4. Product Management: Product Lifecycle—questions on 14 dimensions of evolution; Applying product positioning; Customer service and satisfaction; Review of past and current marketing programs; Staff interviews and test case study performance.
  5. Presentation: Review of past product plan presentations and established formats.

Once the five areas are reviewed, we prepare an overall diagnostic. We analyze the marketing department as a whole and identifying options for improvement. We identify skill levels across segments of managers. We propose the best training approaches for each segment of managers, including training topics and approaches to coaching. We develop specific recommendations on how to build a first-tier product management group.

2. Workshop

Our workshops teach world-class best practices obtained from benchmarking the best marketing organizations including General Electric, Procter and Gamble, The Coca-Cola Company, 3M, American Express, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, JPMorgan Chase, United Parcel Service, Wells Fargo, and others.Our workshops feature two proprietary product management power tools:  The Marketer’s Workflow and the Customer Learning Curve,

The Marketer’s Workflow TM comprises the six kinds of activities product managers perform to get results and the five documents they use to support and organize their work.  It’s based on over 20 years of consulting to the world’s top marketing companies and benchmarking how they produce superior results.

The Customer Learning Curve TM is a unique strategic marketing tool with two robust components:  a technique for developing deep insight into customers’ decision making, and a practical financial model to use in determining marketing leverage points and the returns on alternative marketing expenditures.  It is the subject of founder Karl Hellman’s book published by the American Marketing Association.

The CLC comprised the eight mental steps your customer must take from needing your product through to being a loyal brand advocate. Calibrating the CLC adds science to the art of marketing to find the leverage in your product marketing efforts.

3. Coaching

Our consultants are practitioners … working side by side with our clients to successfully execute marketing solutions.

Because the principles and tools of product management become powerful only in practice, our expert marketers coach your product managers to help them apply world-class practices and solve their business problems. They:

  • Provide first-hand experience and knowledge of best marketing practices applied to your specific marketing challenge.
  • Are all experienced marketers.
  • Have prior product management experience at the world’s best marketing companies.
  • Come from a wide range of disciplines and industries.

We select the team that meets your organization’s needs from among our associates, most of whom have been working with us for over 10 years.

The combination of workshops, on the job application, and coaching by experts enables your organization to improve business results in the short run and build the processes and skills you need to make product management a source of ongoing strategic advantage for your firm.

Successful marketing requires application. The principles and tools become powerful only in practice, and our coaches—experienced marketing consultants and former product managers—work with your marketers to solve their business problems. This coaching reinforces learning and changes behavior.

4. Evaluation

Training program evaluation is closely tied to the fact that all of our training is concurrently applied to real-world product marketing problems. For example, three marketers are assigned to increase product share for product “A”, and another three are assigned to plan a new product offering for market segment “B”. This direct tie-in of training and real-world problem facilitates bottom-line assessments of program effectiveness: “Did our performance improve as a result of the training?”

Assessment also occurs across three workshops and the final plan presentation to senior management. Some work is completed during the workshop, the rest is finished during homework assignments between workshops.

  1. Building the Factbase: Workshop attendees are asked to apply specific tools their assignment. They assess where they are in the Marketer’s Workflow, where their product is in the Product Life-cycle, they prepare Product Financials, the prepare a product Positioning Assessment (including Segmentation and Competitive Analysis), and they review the unique challenges of New Product Development. Assessment: Does the team have an adequate factbase or a plan for building one?
  2. Craft Your Strategies: Marketing Communications, Promotions, Sales Force Programs, Pricing, New Product Launch. Assessment: Does the strategy target major profit opportunities and manage critical risks?
  3. Make It Happen: Cross-Functional Coordination, Implementation Planning, Measurement & Learning, Leadership, Mentoring. Assessment: Has the team built a comprehensive and measurable plan of action?
  4. Present the Plan: Workshop attendees use a common format to make actual, executive-level presentations of their product plans to senior management. Assessment: Is senior management compelled to fund the proposal?

Other Training Applications

Our approach to product management training has been so successful that we have adapted for use in three additional areas:

  1. Sales Management: We address a wide range of sales management concerns in our training approach: Our salespeople are not selling up to their full potential. What specific actions do we need to take to help our sales team improve? How can we know if we have the right people in the right positions? Are our sales managers executing our business strategies as effectively as possible?
  2. Account Management: Adopting Strategic Account Management requires changes in account management processes, skills, resource commitment, and tool kits.
  3. E-Learning: Our online training courses enable off-site learning and reduce the cost of on-site workshops.
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