getting swamped with client issues

I sometimes get emails like these:

After going through your training, I've gotten heavily into talking 1-1 with clients, and it's fantastic -- tons of great information, and they're very receptive. I'm really learning the markets, and that's great for structuring our services, and isolating where we need to provide more insight on a day-to-day basis. The problem is, they usually want to see some sort of immediate response on our part after the call, often for things we can't make money doing for them. It's great for building the client relationship, but I'm getting swamped with dealing with after-call deliverables.

I suggest that you be clear about what you can and cannot do for the client. I'm glad that you're getting good insights from your customer visits but you shouldn't be walking away with excessive deliverables. Perhaps you need to take a sales engineer to handle the short-term deliverables so you can focus on the longer-term items. Another idea is to ask the client for their short-term needs and get it out of the way so you can then convert the conversation into long-term strategic items.

What I hear most often is that customer support and/or account management have done such a poor job of these that the client jumps onto the product manager, thinking "finally, I can get some action!" And frankly, sales people tend to sell it that way. "Here's our go-to guy. He knows everything so just tell him anything you want and he'll get it done." Initially, you can say "I can take some of this to my customer support organization but some of these items won't happen quickly because [whatever]."

What tips would you share?

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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