How Product Managers Can Help Their Customers Weigh Their Options

by drjim on April 1, 2013

Customers have to weigh their options when deciding between products

Customers have to weigh their options when deciding between products
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Have you ever had to make a decision between two products that you were considering buying? How did you go about doing this? If you are like most of us, you collected what data you could on both products and then you weighed the data in order to try to see which product would best meet your needs. Just exactly how do your customers go about weighing your product against other products?

More Product Data Does Not Make Product Selection Easier

Just exactly how do your customers go about determining if they want to buy your product? Studies have shown that for products that cost US$50 or more, 25% of customers say that they spend most of their effort on product research. Of this 25%, 20% say that most of their effort is spent doing comparison shopping. How are you helping your customers to do this?

As product managers, all too often we think that we are helping our customers make a decision about our product when we really are not. What we tend to do is to create buying guides for our customers that list product features so that our customers can choose between our small, medium, and large products.

It turns out that this really does nothing to help our customers. More information is not what our customers are looking for. Rather what they want product managers to do is to help them to feel confident about the choice that they are trying to make. What this means is that we need to provide our customers with a way to both identify and then weigh the product features that are the most important to them.

How To Help Your Customer Weigh Your Product

When it comes to helping your customer feel confident that they are making the right decision, one company that has got it right is the diamond company, De Beers. They are the ones who came up with the “4Cs” system of evaluating and comparing diamonds (cut, color, clarity, and caret). This approach took a process that most people know nothing about and provided them with confidence that they were weighing the essential features needed to make the right decision.

As product managers we need to help our customers control the number of features that enter into their weighting process. Sometimes there may be many, many different features associated with our products and as product managers we need to create ways that will help our customers sort through all of these features in order to identify the ones that really matter to them.

One way to go about doing this is by adding logic to your product’s web site. You can have the customer provide some basic information about themselves and then use that information to narrow the product configurations that they should be considering. By doing this you will have made it easier for them to weigh their options when making the buying decision.

What All Of This Means For You

Making decisions is hard work and your customers have to make decisions when they are considering whether or not to buy your product. As a product manager, you need to help them with the product weighing process.

One thing that too many product managers don’t realize is that simply by providing your customers with even more information about your product you won’t make the decision making process any easier for them. Instead what you need to do is to provide them with tools that will allow them to filter the available information down to just the elements that matter to them.

The easier that you make it for your customers to weigh what your product has to offer against what other products offer, the easier it will be for them to reach a buying decision. If they see how simple it is to interact with your product, then it will be cast in a favorable light. When that happens, you’ll have more customers selecting your product and that is what it takes to make a product manager happy!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How many different product characteristics do you think a customer can comfortable weigh?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ugg, taxes! I don’t like them, you don’t like them, nobody likes them. One of the reasons that nobody likes taxes is that they are so very complicated – what counts as taxable income and what doesn’t? It turns out that the company Intuit realized that we don’t like taxes and they’ve made a lot of money with their TurboTax software that many of us in the USA use to prepare our taxes. There’s a lesson for us product managers to learn from the world of tax preparation software – make it easy to select your product and you’ll be very successful.

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