Market forecasts – how I would get them wrong

Assumptions, Learning, Marketing, Product Management

In product management, one of the key things that is expected is building a market forecast and then getting a budget approved.

Being in a services space, our services were centered around some software products. Which meant that if the software products didn’t sell our forecast would be worthless. So the OEM being able to sell the product was critical. As an example if SAP becomes a leader in the ERP space then all the service providers who have capabilities around SAP have a large market to target and their business will grow.

Generally I used to map all the people, at the OEM, who were involved with the specific product. These people would also help lead us into customer requirements.

Now the challenge is that most people who are part of the same team will generally always give the same pieces of data. Therefore there was a bias in the data that was being fed to me. Now since I was also invested heavily into the relationship with the OEM, I was also not willing to see if there were somethings about the data which were not ok.

Just to put things in perspective, this same method had also made me immensely successful as a product manager. The key was that at that time the products were successfully getting sold by the OEM, so that momentum also helped us sell a lot of the services.

As they say , failures give you lessons , to succeed to the next step. I realized I needed to meet people who were not involved with that product within the OEM and outside to see how they were performing. I also started asking questions of why its not a good idea to go with that product.

This helped make my investments into building service capabilities around specific products more rational. It also helped me push the technical team to create more cross functional capabilities.

As a product manager or marketing manager you have to learn to find a way to not fall into the dual traps of group think and confirmation bias.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

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