One of the tasks I’ve been undertaking for clients lately is reviewing their products and services. I’ve collaborated with various organizations, including charities, and sometimes it’s beneficial to consolidate the numerous things they offer into product families. This allows us to identify related items, which is crucial for cross-selling. When a customer purchases one item, they’re likely to be interested in another.

I believe the concept of product families, especially in sales and marketing, is valuable. It enables us to consider how LinkedIn connects to podcasts, which in turn relate to the product and the specific needs of the client. For instance, if a client is a small business likely to expand, we can develop a coordinated approach that acknowledges the client or product life cycle, creating a seamless journey.

It might seem oversimplified, but it’s akin to raising children. As they grow, new products, services, and support become necessary. Just like a parent continually nurtures their children’s success, businesses should ensure their clients have what they need to succeed. While I’m not advocating a paternalistic approach, I do advocate for genuinely looking out for the client’s best interests. It’s about understanding where they are and what they need right now. Just as you wouldn’t expect a child to wear the same pair of shoes forever, we should recognize that products and services need to evolve to meet changing needs.

Understanding how we grow our business is crucial. It may involve attracting more clients, especially as some naturally leave after completing a project. Repeating the same project isn’t always necessary; instead, new clients with new projects may be needed. Some relationships are temporary due to the nature of the product or service, while others are ongoing. For example, HR support may be required throughout the lifetime of a business, whereas an IT solution might only be needed every few years. Thus, our approach to attracting, maintaining, and retaining clients must vary depending on whether the provision is temporary or ongoing.

When expanding our business, it’s vital to consult with frontline staff to understand strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges. However, it’s equally important, yet often overlooked, to involve customers directly in these discussions. Learning from customers who choose to leave is particularly valuable. Just as we gather insights from exit interviews with staff, we can gain valuable insights from clients’ exit interviews. While there’s a chance to salvage the relationship and make it stronger, there’s also an opportunity to learn something that benefits the business in the long run. Therefore, I strongly advocate for an annual review of products and services as part of the business planning process.

Simply setting yearly goals isn’t enough. Just as you wouldn’t embark on a skiing holiday without ensuring your car is serviced, organizations shouldn’t plan their campaigns without conducting a comprehensive product review. It’s essential to have an annual plan, much like scheduling vacations, and to conduct a thorough product review, akin to servicing your car, to ensure everything is running efficiently and effectively.

Here is a scorecard for Product and Client Reviews, assessing whether all the right activities are being carried out:

  1. Meeting with Colleagues:
    Are regular meetings held with colleagues to discuss product and client reviews?
    Are strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges identified and addressed during these meetings?
    Is there active participation and collaboration among team members?
    Score: 1-5
  2. Meeting with Clients:
    Are there regular meetings with clients to discuss their needs and experiences?
    Are exit interviews conducted with departing clients to gather feedback and insights?
    Is there a proactive approach to addressing client concerns and improving client satisfaction?
    Score: 1-5
  3. Reviewing Product and Market:
    Is there a systematic process for reviewing products and services?
    Are market trends and competitor analysis considered during product reviews?
    Is there a focus on identifying opportunities for product improvement and innovation?
    Score: 1-5
  4. Making Plans with KPIs and OKRs:
    Are clear plans developed with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)?
    Are these plans aligned with the identified needs of clients and the market?
    Is there a mechanism in place to track progress and adjust plans accordingly?
    Score: 1-5
  5. Having a Supporting Communications Plan:
    Is there a comprehensive communications plan to ensure effective internal and external communication?
    Are stakeholders informed about product updates, client feedback, and business strategies?
    Is there a strategy for addressing any communication gaps or challenges?
    Score: 1-5

Tim HJ Rogers
Consult | CoCreate | Deliver

I support people and teams to grow, perform and succeed unlocking potential as a partner Consultant, Coach, Project and Change Manager. Together we can deliver projects and change, and improve the confidence, capacity, drive and desire of the people I work with.

ICF Trained Coach | MBA Management Consultant | PRINCE2 Project Manager, Agile Scrum Master | AMPG Change Practitioner | Mediation Practitioner | BeTheBusiness Mentor | 4 x GB Gold Medalist | First Aid for Mental Health | Certificate in Applied Therapeutic Skills