People believe when you believe. Evanglism is defined as “1. Zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work. 2. Militant zeal for a cause.” Guy Kawasaki actually had the title of “Chief Evangelist” at Apple in the early days. He calls it “Selling the Dream”, helping people see and create that dream.
In the case of product management, product evangelism is tireless promotion of and work on your product(s), services, or ideas with a true understanding of your prospects, market, the benefits, and application. It is seeing beyond the specifications and numbers. You set and share the vision. You energize those around you. You understand the product intricacies and thoroughly understand how each customer will use and benefit from it. You sell not only to customers but to your engineers, service staff, internal management – and give them every reason to believe too.
I recall managing a product that no one else seemed to believe in. At the time, the company had a poor record and reputation in software. The Sales and Service group did not know how to sell, service, or train in this area. It took passion, personal selling and demonstrations directly to customers and fellow colleagues alike. Whatever legitimate concerns were heard and addressed as soon as possible. It is contagious. The most complimentary testament (no pun intended) was a customer asking “You really are passionate about this and love it, don’t you?” I smiled and replied “Absolutely!”
The end result is that the product that no one believed in became the most successful product in that company’s history. There was plenty of hard work, tireless weeks on the road...it is far from idle talk. All products should have a product evangelist as the owner (or even better, the entire team become evangelists).
Frank Lio is a Product Manager, Strategist, and Change Agent in the Hi-Tech industry. His growing track record of successes include creating 3 winning software products, leading nationwide seminars, and turning around a failing business unit. He is currently serving a dual role as Product Manager and Business Team Support Manager at Instron ITW.
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