Sometimes, a product or service just doesn’t sell the way you imagined it would. This could mean that it needs a few tweaks to improve it before you can gain momentum with sales. In some cases, however, you could end up wasting time and resources refining an offering that’s never going to take off.
How do you distinguish between a product or service that needs improvement and one that needs to be scrapped entirely? Here, 10 members of Forbes Coaches Council share their insights into how one can determine if an underperforming product or service could be salvaged and become profitable or if it should be eliminated altogether.
1. Assess The Product’s Profitability
As a leader, you should also assess the product’s profitability. If the return on investment (ROI) and the return on time (ROT) are worth it, you can always improve, tweak or pivot. However, unnecessary expenses can even impact other products, and it might be better to eliminate it instead. If you’re not sure, be sure to consult with your financial advisor or accountant. Numbers don’t lie. – Reelika Schulte , Dream Lifestyle
2. Request Feedback On Features
If your company leverages relationship-based sales (and it should), it’s quite easy to request feedback on features wanted by your market. Asking consumers directly about what they want and need, with a plan to execute, builds interest prior to release and solidifies those relationships as true partnerships. – Susan Fessenden, ProfitLogics®
3. Reevaluate And Calibrate Your Offerings
When a product or service is underperforming, leaders have an opportunity to reevaluate and calibrate their strategic offerings. How does that underperforming product or service align with the core purpose and mission of your organization? If it is central, you should consider approaches to pivot and revitalize it. If it is tangential, look to trim the fat and take it as an opportunity to refocus. – Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
4. Put Out A Survey, Email Or Post
Sometimes, we create products that fit us but not the customer’s needs. Confront this product by communicating with your customers to understand how and why they didn’t like it. Do a survey via email or a social media post to understand what they missed or how to improve things. Your customers will feel involved because you reached out to them and showed them that their voice counts. – Xavier Preterit, BIMR EDITION
5. Use Well-Known Strategy Tools
Leaders should be strategically focused when it comes to their portfolio matrix. After doing the relevant analysis of the internal and external drivers and contexts, using any of the well-known strategy tools, such as BCG, Ansoff or the GE-McKinsey Matrix, can give one a systematic view of underperformance, outperformance and stability. This then creates the base for actions to be taken. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory
6. Evaluate The Data To Determine Alignment
Evaluate data from current customers, potential customers and missed opportunities. Where would your current customers like to see improvements? What feedback can you get regarding lost sales—features or functions they would have preferred, for example? And what are your prospects asking for? Where you find alignment is where you tweak and improve. If there is no overlap, consider elimination. – Faith Fuqua-Purvis, Synergetic Solutions Consulting LLC
7. Follow A Timeline For Experimentation
Put a timeline on the revenue experiment. If you do not put in place, for example, a tight, 90-day time frame for a new product or service offering to perform, you risk taking your attention off of what is working, or what could work. Often, shelving something for later or taking it out of the market frees up the collective corporate marketing mind to work on something much better and more current. Come back later! – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
8. Conduct A Key Performance Indicator Analysis
This is an excellent opportunity to conduct a key performance indicator analysis to discover the root cause of why the service or product is underperforming before making any decisions. Gaining a better understanding of how initial projections were made in the first place and the key issues related to current customer expectations, industry trends and competition will lead to the best decision. – Izabela Lundberg, Legacy Leaders Institute
9. Monitor Feedback And Life Cycle
Getting customer feedback and monitoring the product life cycle would be key to making a decision on the service or product offering’s next milestone. Often, product managers unwittingly allow a well-performing product or service to go beyond its “shelf life” without a proper product roadmap, and then they are unable to determine what to do with that offering. – Thomas Lim, Singapore Public Service, SportSG
10. Ask Your Buying Community For Feedback
If you want to know if a product needs to be tweaked and improved or eliminated altogether, the best source for information is your buying community. Find a way to contact 100 clients or prospects and ask them what might persuade them to buy a product, or if they would be willing to pay for it. When you do, you’ll have enough information to help make a decision. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience