Scorecard to be used with your Product Coach, Manager, or for your own self-assessment.

Over the course of my career, I have had to develop some assessment of competency for Product Managers and Product Marketers on multiple occasions. Usually I have broken this into three major buckets of competency: Domain, Practices, and Soft Skills.

I have done this for the benefit of assessing and developing large organizations. I have also done this for my own self-assessment and that of product managers I have had the benefit of coaching.

Marty Cagan and Chris Jones’ recent book, Empowered, catalyzed me to rethink my assessment a bit. I have shifted the major categories, replaced soft skills with…

Is Amazon’s magic sustainable as they shift into the post Bezos era?

Headline May 26, 2021:Jeff Bezos to formally step down as Amazon CEO on July 5, Andy Jassy to take over

There is no doubt that Jeff Bezos has built a remarkable business in Amazon. As he steps down from the role of CEO, it is worth asking if it will endure when he is no longer at the helm?

We can debate whether he will still be driving things as the Exec Chairman of Amazon’s board and to whats degree. …

Not too long after landing a job as a software engineer at Information Builders in 1999, my boss told me we had to talk. He wanted me to switch from a programming role to Product Manager. I was pretty sure my management liked me and my work, so I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t think I was good enough keep at it. I knew nothing of this role.

All the smartest people in this business were coders, but while I was not immune to dreaming about solving programming problems, just like the Tetris Effect, I also did not see…

Maturing companies develop dependencies. Startups exploit them.

One of the beauties of a startup is its simplicity of focus. A well-run startup is hyper-focused on a specific customer problem. They get started with a small team that is focused on deeply understanding the problem and discovering solutions to it.

This focus is viewed as a unique enabler of success against incumbents.

Incumbents, however, tend to have deep established customer relationships, proven feature-rich product offerings, and substantially more revenue to allocate into additional R&D.

From a headcount perspective, incumbents may have 10x to 100x the number of employees working on a given product category than the startup does…

Focusing on the right Customers, is critical to focused intentional growth

Every day we talk about our Customers.

We need more Customers. What is our Customer Experience? How many new Customers did you get last quarter? What does our NPS say about Customer Satisfaction?

It is fantastic to be so customer-focused with what we do and how we think about the problems we solve. Let’s be clear, however, that when we say “Customer” we actually may mean multiple things and need to ensure we are focusing on the right customers at the right time.

The big distinction is always between Customers that actually pay and use your product versus Prospects, which…

Make sure you are focusing on the right things based on your product strategy.

When starting a new product initiative, it is drilled into our heads by all the great product thinkers that we must think about risk. What are the assumptions we are making? Which are the riskiest? How can we reduce the risk inherent in each of those assumptions early?

Most of our attention falls into the 4 types of risk described by Marty Cagan as:

  1. Value Risk
  2. Usability Risk
  3. Feasibility Risk
  4. Business Viability Risk

Alternative models collapse these into Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability. Whatever unknowns you wish to solve for, the associated risks are all addressed through Discovery processes. Sometimes we…

Freemium can be magical for enterprise software but has some tricky downsides

On March 23, 2006, Fred Wilson wrote an article on his blog entitled “My Favorite Business Model”. This crystalized and catalyzed the Freemium business model for the software business.

Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc, then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.

Fred Wilson, AVC blog ( Mar 23, 2006)

Fast forward 15 years later to today and we find freemium pervasive in our business and…

Even with a solid strategy, setting the price has many wrinkles

Usually, when people think of product pricing, the first thing they want to consider is the price point. Now that I have tackled the pricing team, models, and strategy this article finally tackles that key issue.

Let’s look at what goes into setting an optimal price and some of the key terms used in pricing.

This is the fourth article in a four-part series on product pricing. The first three articles covered who should be on a Pricing Team, core Pricing Models, defining your Pricing Strategy.

List Price

The standard offering price of your product is referred to as the List Price…

3 Must-Know Pricing Strategies and the Inputs to Drive Them

This is the third article in a four-part series on product pricing. The first two articles covered who should be on a Pricing Team and core Pricing Models. The final article will be on Setting the Price.

In the last article, I covered the core pricing models used by enterprise software companies today: Competitive Pricing and Value-Based Pricing. In this article, I take these models and talk about how you leverage them to support your business strategy.

On their own, these models serve simply as reference points for how you go about pricing. Deciding when to use each model and…

The 2(+1) pricing models for enterprise software that matter

A study of pricing models can make your head spin. Wikipedia lists 28 distinct pricing models. In practice, for enterprise software products, we frequently have a much narrower set of basic models we want to leverage. The two models that matter most are Competitive Pricing and Value-Based Pricing. In a lot of commodity businesses and consumer package goods we also see variations on Cost-Plus Pricing.

Most companies will leverage these models along with packaging options and other factors to arrive at their strategy.

This is the second article in a four-part series on pricing. The first article covered who should…

Sean Sullivan

Product Management Consultant @ I provide assessment, consulting, and coaching. Subscribe to my newsletter @

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store