Manage Relationships

LEARNED FROM MISTAKES that CUSTOMERS DO NOT ALWAYS KNOW WHAT THEY NEED

  • SITUATION: Leading motor company needed a new custom ignition system. I sold the program and negotiated substantial NRE (non-recurring engineering) fees.  

  • ACTIONS: Ran multiple DFSS and pairwise requirement meetings with both technical and commercial groups. Development progressed on schedule with electrical, software and mechanical prototypes passing rigerous tests.  Customer paid over $300,000 in customization NRE.  Unfortunately, competition presented a product that failed more than 4 critical requirements, but at a 40% discount.  

  • RESULT: The customer ultimately substantially redesigned their system to accept the inferior product. From this program, I learned that most customers do not know what they want.  It is incumbent on marketing to help customers do proper due diligence on all possible options, including lower-cost ones, to ensure optimal value creation.   

CREATE CUSTOMER PARTNERS and PROFITABLE GROWTH through WIN-WIN PRODUCT DESIGNS

  • SITUATION: A key customer threatened to pull business for a sensor line due to increased competition.  

  • ACTION: Worked with sales and engineering to fully understand the customer's implementation and unmet needs. Investigated all manufacturing installations, walked the manufacturing floor and talked with each person who touched the product in production.  We uncovered a number of product modifications that could substantially improve customer productivity at little to no cost.  

  • RESULT: Once we presented these findings, the customer agreed to the changes, helped fund some NRE and retained 100% of our contract.  This program success also reinforced our partnership for increased follow-on business. 

MANAGED MAJOR PRODUCT FAILURE and SAVED CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP

  • SITUATION: Two major package delivery companies blamed my company for stranding multiple trucks per day on the side of the road. GM asked me to manage the issue including negotiating with truck manufacturers, end customers, and component suppliers.  

  • ACTIONS: Managed disaster recovery, product investigation, engineering analysis and supplier legal discussions.  Ultimately identified root cause as unapproved supplier changes. Kept downstream customers happy with quickly-made replacement parts and installation assistance.  

  • RESULTS: Ultimately, presented the facts and negotiated penalty reductions with OEMs and end customers.  Most challenging negotiation was with supplier who ultimately was forced out of business due to legal fees and penalties associated with incident.  

BUILT the SECOND LARGEST PRODUCT MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION in the U.S.

  • SITUATION:  Product managers needed a way to learn about industry best practices and network with each other.

  • ACTIONS: Helped start and grow volunteer organization from 600 to 6,000 members over 13 years.  As President, built 20 person board of directors.  Hired and managed paid staff.  Built programs for graduates, managers and senior executives --- including evening, half, and full-day events.  

  • RESULTS: Grew the association into the second largest of its kind serving the needs of product people around Boston and the world.  Supports the world's second largest ProductCamp event with annual attendance of over 700 product professionals.

    © 2016 Designed by Andrew H. Shepard