Examples On Product Development

26/04/2024 Juho Mäyränpää

Examples On Product Development

In addition to direct sales work, there are several other things on the sales manager’s desk. In modern sales, offering systems and coordinating marketing to be managed by the same person as sales is a basic approach. The Sales Director is also responsible for distribution agreements in addition to sales. Decisions affecting the product range are also in the scope, generally based on the strategy within the limits allowed by the technology.

Now it seems, when offering sales training in the startup world, you always come across that some customers are still refining their strategy and product/market fit. This is an area of sales that I also enjoy sparring with. This blog post has several examples of good successful ones I have done.

My career started with my master’s thesis at Elisa’s research unit, then HPY Research. My task was to produce a go to market strategy for virtual language school and I got a grade of 4/5 for the work. After that I started as an entrepreneur at Sublime Software, which I founded. If I haven’t completely misunderstood, the virtual language school was sold to WSOY as Opit environment.

The product development projects as an entrepreneur really continued and at Sublime Software we created the Sublime Screen subtitling systems for TV and movies, as well as the Sublime iTV Suite for making interactive television applications using wysiwyg user interface (what you see is what you get). We sold Sublime Screen to 20 countries – mainly to film festivals – and iTV Suite to television companies in Norway and Taiwan, in addition to Finnish MTV. It probably went somewhere in German-speaking Europe to a university for educational use in addition to Finnish universities of applied sciences. Both iTV Suite and Screen were developed so far, that they could be delivered to the customers on a CD in a cardboard box with instructions.

After Sublime Software, I moved to WM-Data, which later became Logica and then CGI. I started my work there as a business consultant and my first project was to redesign of DNA’s cable television channel. I can mention the case, since Kauppalehti wrote an article about it. After that, I quickly progressed to manager and director in the Information Logistics unit, where I wrote Whitepapers for the business, that became product and service strategies from a sales perspective. We also commercialized the services so far that we developed a “sales machine” with which we presented our services to the customers. The sales machine illustrated the hard-to-explain services with animations, text and even verbally. I think it was Arvi Lind, a news anchor, who recorded the spoken parts of the service. In the sales machine, each of our services had its own section, where the parameters related to the sale of that service could be defined in the presence of the customer. When the parameters were inputted, the sales machine created an offer on a word document based on a parameterized XML file including project plans. The sales machine gave such a convincing picture of the level of our product development stage that, at best, contracts of 300,000 euros were sold in the first meetings.

Now at Sofia Digital, in the capacity of sales director, I have taken a strong stand on our product development and effectively decided or at least influenced the product development of our service. Worth of mentioning in this regard are the software testing in our TV laboratory and our video platform service (OTT, over the top). Sofia Digital has now sold its services to more than 40 countries and we feel that the products respond well to the market demand.

Finally, I return to the startup world and Sublime Software with some advice. One of the company’s investors was Martti Kaila, who also worked as a professor at the University of Technology. He recommended the book Four Steps To Epiphany by Gary Blank for product and business development. Brutally summarized, that book recommends setting up a pilot product as quickly as possible, testing it with real customers and modifying the product or service according to customer feedback to get the right results. The central idea is that larger amounts of funding should be raised, and sales and marketing scaled only when there is a real demand for the product.

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