editor's blog
Subscribe Now

The Worst Two Answers

You’re an upstanding product marketing guy, and you want to validate your company’s product ideas with customers and potential customers. So you go get in front of them (not always easy – that’s when you appreciate your best salesguys with their Rolodexes (Rolodices?) and relationships…).

You sit down in the meeting room, smiles and handshakes and coffee all around, and you pitch your wares.

The best answer you could ask for would be something like, “Awesome! I want one now! I’ll help fund the development and will be a lead alpha customer to help you along the way. Here’s my PO and a dedicated person to help out.”

But what’s the worst thing you could hear?

You might think it would be something like, “Whoa whoa, you guys are way lost off in the weeds. This is completely wrong in all ways.”

No doubt, it would suck to hear that. But it’s not the worst thing you could hear. It’s actually still a good thing to hear, since now you know for sure that you’ve got problems.

No, there are two really, really bad things you could hear.

  1. “That’s really interesting. In fact, it’s quite clever, really… Yeah, I can see how you did that. I don’t need it right now, but I can see how someone might really like that. Yeah, well done.”
  2. “Hmmmm…. [long, pensive look]. This is interesting. I need to think about this. We’re heads-down trying to finish this project now, but once I come up for air, I want to study this some more. When? Oh, probably in six months or so…” (It’s almost always six months.)

Both of those answers say the same thing: I DON’T NEED THIS. The first one creates the impression that someone else will need it. If they give you a solid clue as to who that will be, that’s a good answer and a good friend. Absent that, you may find yourself hearing that answer over and over, meaning you’re just being led down the garden path.

The second response sounds like the classic case of, “We’re ahead of the market,” the easy salve to soothe the pain of marketing and sales plans that just aren’t working out. But, rest assured, if you come back in six months, you will find that he/she has looked no further, and he/she may push you out another six months.

These answers are horrible because they give you entirely the wrong impression, and you lose valuable time as happy words and thoughts crowd out the darker reality that may eventually come rushing in.

Make no mistake: No one is trying intentionally to mislead you. It’s just that people are nice. And you probably know some of the people in the meeting; they’re your professional colleagues. And professionals don’t rip their friends to shreds. (Much.)

So they’re protecting you from what you need to hear. And what you need to hear is, “This is not the right solution.”

Some marketeers will go so far as to say that you will only be successful if you allay pain. That’s not necessarily true for all products, but if your product is a new tool or a new chip or anything that interrupts the conveyor-belt design process that seems to get sped up each year (heck, even the robot that replaced Lucy many decades ago occasionally finds itself with too many chocolates in its mouth), then you better have a damned good reason for doing that. Which means, it better ease some pain or at least scratch an itch.

And if it does, you should hear the sounds of relief in your meetings. Anything short of that should be interpreted as, “We got more work to do.”

(Of course, then there’s the issue of explaining that to the Board…)

Oh, and if you’re an engineer lucky enough to have someone come ask your opinion, do them a favor: tell them what you really think. Be respectful, be gentle if necessary, but be honest, good news or bad.

 

 

(Stimulated by a recent product briefing/demo, and drawing from my prior experience pulling such fishhooks out of my cheeks…)

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Sep 26, 2021
https://youtu.be/Ivi2dTIcm9E Made at my garden gate (camera Carey Guo) Monday: Ten Lessons from Three Generations of Google TPUs Tuesday: At a Digital Crossroads Wednesday: Announcing Helium, Hybrid... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community si...
Sep 24, 2021
Wi-Fi, NB-IoT, Bluetooth, LoRaWAN... This webinar will help you to choose the appropriate connectivity protocol for your IoT application....
Sep 23, 2021
The GIRLS GO Engineering scholarship provides opportunities for women in tech and fosters diversity in STEM; see the winners of our 2021 engineering challenge! The post GIRLS GO Engineering! Empowers Our Next-Gen Women in Tech appeared first on From Silicon To Software....
Sep 23, 2021
The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, is collaborating with the InnovateFPGA contest. Showcase your  skills with Intel Edge-Centric FPGAs and help develop technical solutions that reduce env...

featured video

Intel Architecture Day 2021: Data Center - Infrastructure Processing Unit

Sponsored by Intel

Intel unveiled its biggest architectural shifts in a generation for CPUs, GPUs and IPUs to satisfy the crushing demand for more compute performance at Architecture Day 2021. Guido Appenzeller, Chief Technology Officer of Intel's Data Platforms Group explains how the IPU's design enables cloud and communication service providers to reduce overhead and free up performance for central processing units.

Click here to learn more

featured paper

Detect. Sense. Control: Simplify building automation designs with MSP430™ MCU-based solutions

Sponsored by Texas Instruments

Building automation systems are critical not only to security, but worker comfort. Whether you need to detect, sense or control applications within your environment, the right MCU can make it easy. Using MSP430 MCUS with integrated analog, you can easily develop common building automation applications including motion detectors, touch keypads and e-locks, as well as video security cameras. Read more to see how you can enhance your building automation design.

Click to read more

featured chalk talk

Time Sensitive Networking for Industrial Automation

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Intel

In control applications with strict deterministic requirements, such as those found in automotive and industrial domains, Time Sensitive Networking offers a way to send time-critical traffic over a standard Ethernet infrastructure. This enables the convergence of all traffic classes and multiple applications in one network. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Josh Levine of Intel and Patrick Loschmidt of TTTech about standards, specifications, and capabilities of time-sensitive networking (TSN).

Click here for more information about Intel Cyclone® V FPGAs