Why alignment around product-positioning is so important?

Why alignment around product-positioning is so important?
Photo by Jason Goodman / Unsplash

Tech startups are in constant search of what should be the next thing they launch. Whoever is in charge of leading the product’s roadmap at the company, whether they are founders or product people, are constantly looking for clues and indicators from the field.These indicators can come from talking to existing customers, looking for hints in the data, observing competitors and from prospects during the sales process.

A very common practice among startups is to give their salespeople a degree of autonomy to exaggerate a product’s capabilities and see what works with potential clients. If a pitch does lead to a deal being closed, assuming that the promise of the product’s capabilities was within the agreed boundaries of “over-promising,” the company quickly develops and releases that product.

This sounds like a bullet-proof way to insure everything is built for a purpose, based on real demand. What can possibly go wrong?

The impact of adding capabilities to your product-positioning

The nature of prospects during a sales process is to make quick assumptions about your product by associating it with a product or category with which a prospective client is already familiar. This is described brilliantly in the book Obviously Awesome by April Dunford.

Context of the sale has a very strong impact on the opinion formed by prospects. For example, if you are selling a website-building tool, you will automatically be associated with the market leader of the category. Without actually describing anything about your product, you actually said exactly what your price range should be, who your competitors are, what your go-to market strategy is, etc.

That’s why every new capability, if not aligned with your positioning, will open a wide range of assumptions regarding your product that can hurt your company. Going back to the website-building example, let’s assume you choose to add “video editor for promotional clips” to the site. By doing this, you are at risk of being associated with other online video editors.Suddenly, you can become the “overpriced, complex video editor” to one type of customer, and the “cheap website-builder for marketing people” to another.

It doesn’t take much for a misaligned employee to change the product-positioning, but the results of it are going to be long-lasting.