October 5th, 2011

Two Questions to Ask About Any New Product Feature


In the past 3 weeks, I’ve had 10 conversations with people about creating new products, both physical and software, or discussing how an existing product will be sold; pricing, messaging, including a sales video or not, etc. I’ve noticed that that the decision about including a feature in a product or not is boiled down to 2 questions and 2 possible next steps.

Here are the questions to ask when determining a product feature or how to sell a product.

  1. Do you have any evidence that people are buying your product because of this feature (or because its priced this way, discussed in xx way, etc)?
  2. Do you have any evidence that people are NOT buying your product because it has this specific feature, or more commonly, because its sold at this price, or discussed in this way.

Based on your answers to these questions, there are two possible outcomes.

  1. If you can answer one of the above questions, you’ll know what to do. Make sure your answer is based on actual customer feedback, not a guess made by someone on the internal team. If you can’t answer either of these questions then you must make decision #2.
  2. Create an experiment where you can test the product, feature, pricing, etc with a customer to see if it will make them buy, or not buy. When looking for evidence keep in mind you should have a way of measuring it both in terms of anecdotes and hard metrics, best would be combination of both.

I find this logic especially important for cleantech companies, that are dealing with physical products that are very capital intensive, because it will force them to strip down the product to things the customer actually cares about. Not only is this important during the product development process, but the sales process as well. Many cleantech companies are dealing with customers that have very long sales cycles and their tends to be a large investment put into each sale. Thus, eliminating the waste from the sales process allows the development of the sales process to happen faster and also makes it more standardized.


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Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams is the editor of Green Light Distrikt and Chief Marketing Officer at HeatSpring . He has experience in business development, prototyping and new venture research with a focus on geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies. Chris is an IGSHPA accredited geothermal installer and NABCEP certified solar installer. Chris is focused on solving customer facing issues in the creation and adoption of clean energy technologies and products. Chris has installed over 300kW of solar and tens of geothermal systems. He's invented the PV Pal , developed many trainings at HeatSpring, publishes the NABCEP Study Guide , the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech and has done due diligence research for Urgent VC . Feel free to connect with him @topherwiliams , on Linkedin , or through email about new ventures, collaborating, writing, research or whatever is on your mind.