Secrets to a More Successful B2B Product Approach by Google PM

In this talk, David begins by talking about the hypothesis that product management best practices are targeted at the B2C use case. He further explains that these practices are not necessarily suited for just B2C, and a lot of them can be applied to B2B as well.

Aerospace Projects to Google Products: David LeDonne

David LeDonne is a Product Manager at Google. Before this, he served as the Director of Product for three years at Sidecar, a marketing technology company. He has a background in Aerospace Project Management, studying at CalTech and also achieving a BSc in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame.

Product Management Best Practices — Not Just for B2C

B2B and B2C differences

In B2B:

  • Cost is high.
  • Length of sale becomes more.
  • Number of users is less.

The story is the star:

Developing a point of view that you and the team believe in is the most important thing you can do as a B2B PM.

In B2B products:

  • Feedback loops are long.
  • User data is scarce.
  • The buyer will often never use your product.

Scenario 1 – don’t A/B test everything

Focusing too narrowly on data results can make you lose sight of the story.

  • Your company makes data science models to plug into operational processes at large companies.
    • Uncover efficiencies in bug reports, customer feedback, and other artifacts.
    • Up to 250GB of data hosted analyzing millions of data points.
    • Proprietary NLP algorithms – best of class (97% accurate).
  • You
    • Build a relationship with the team built on being data driven.
    • Encounter a challenge when you want to launch a feature that may not help the accuracy of the NLP algorithms.
  • Solution
    • Focus on business value, not just statistics.
    • Don’t A/B test unless you intend to make a real decision based on results.
    • Get team buy-in around product vision.
    • Be able to explain how advancing the vision outweighs advancing the stats.

Scenario 2 – have a multi-year plan 

If you don’t develop it, someone else will.

  • Your company sells HR solutions to medium sized, fast growing companies
    • Administer several benefit options
    • Auto-generate org charts and reporting structures
    • Administer time off and vacations policies 
  • You
    • Focus on being “agile”, things change too fast to commit to anything beyond 6 months 
    • Encounter a challenge when your head of sales commits to two of your biggest customers to support payroll automation by end of year 
  • Solution
    • Take an interest in sales and business development to shape customer conversations – give them the firepower they need with realistic constraints
    • Communicate openly and honestly about where the product is headed
    • Set expectations that roadmaps aren’t project plans
    • Have a multi-year vision for the product
Calendar on desk

Scenario 3 – cater to buyers 

User feedback is great, but don’t let it get in the way of a story for the buyer.

  • Your product enables recruiting and hiring
    • AI-enhanced screening of resumes
    • Auto-post to every top job board
    • Seamless onboarding of new hires 
  • You
    • Create an elaborate feedback loop with users, usually HR managers, to prioritize new feature requests
    • Encounter a challenge when your competitor starts gaining market share because they provide a clear compliance and bias reporting plan for the C-suite 
  • Solution
    • Understand why your customers are buying the product and who in the organization you are selling to
    • Talk to buyers, develop buyer personas, understand buyer needs
    • Don’t let user feedback get in the way of the product vision

Final Thoughts on Achieving B2B Greatness

David concludes his talk by reiterating that the story is the star. He suggests the product managers to develop a point of view that resonates with the team. He further adds that the PMs should make their product vision a multi-year plan and empathize with buyers as well, and not just users.

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