Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vision vs Roadmap: Part II

In part one we defined the difference between the vision (emotional) and roadmap (logical).  In part 2 we’ll discuss the connection between the two. 

Marketing is tasked with creating a long term vision for the product and/or for the company.  This is a valuable function of the marketing department.  This vision is often referred to as the 10,000 foot view.  In some cases, marketing visionaries take this to 100,000 feet.  Here, we refer to this as the “airplane”.

Down on the ground, sales people with quotas “sell what’s on the truck”.  For this discussion all products will be referred to as “a box”.  The box is on the truck for the sales teams to sell today.  Traditional, or tactical, marketing, engages in activity (demand generation, collateral development, et al) to assist the sales teams effort in selling “off the truck”. 

Engineering develops the next products to put on the truck.  They base their development roadmap on numerous factors such as customer demands, competitive pressures, market windows and available technologies to name a few. 

A major disconnect between marketing and sales, and therefore engineering, is the lack of connection between the vision and the roadmap; the airplane and the truck.   The consequence is all the effort to market the airplane does nothing for the sales person on the street selling boxes off the truck.

It’s important to push the envelope when developing your vision.   Remember a vision is emotional and emotions are ethereal not concrete.   As the vision moves out in time it’s acceptable that it gets blurry or fuzzy in the later years.   A good metaphor is the hurricane map.  

Meteorologists know where the eye of the hurricane is at a given moment.  They have an idea of where it will be at points in the future.   The further out in time the less certain they are where it will be.  The same is true for your vision. 

However, if the vision is too far-fetched  or worse technically infeasible, your credibility vanishes never to be recaptured.   To prevent against this we’ll use the word “plausible”.  From “plausible” means;

Definition of PLAUSIBLE: superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious <a plausible pretext>

To ensure the vision is plausible ask the engineers if they could develop feature X if they had the resources (time, money and people) and the prioritization to develop it.  Or, in other words, could it be in a future release at some date in the future.  If the honest answer is "yes" then it’s plausible and belongs in the vision.

By ensuring plausibility and by including engineering in the vision development you will have the credibility with the customer and the collaboration and buy-in with the technical teams. 

In keeping with my previous post of the global phenomena of Attention Deficit Disorder, I’ll end this with some pointers of what to consider when developing your vision..

1.       Focus on how your customer, and their customers, business and lives will benefit.
2.       Focus on how the world will look with the benefits of your solution.
3.       Create a compelling view of the future
4.       Illustrate how well you understand their business, their customers business and the concerns, challenges and issues of both.
5.       Addresses CxO level care-abouts
6.       Ensure it’s in a time frame of interest and reasonableness (3-5 years)

In Part III we’ll discuss the different buying decisions of the vision and the roadmap and how to link them together to sell products today and tomorrow.

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