Handling customer requirements

If you work as a PM for a SaaS B2B, you must know how to handle relationships with customers and stakeholders.

Especially at the early stages. Every important client seems to want more of what you can offer them. Sometimes, soon-to-be customers will tell you they need A, B, and C features to close the deal.
My Contributions
I had to handle almost every product request meeting for many years. I think how to handle stakeholders is one of the few things that are not easy to learn from books. You need experience and practice.
Sometimes you will succeed, and sometimes, you will fail.
We used to say for ourselves that we were "ready to ship" assuming that we had product market fit and the market would respond positively to us. But, the reality was that each new client wanted more than we had to offer. This could be good or bad, depending on how the situation was handled.

The best case scenario is when a new client wants a feature that could be useful for the rest of your customers while being aligned with the company's product vision. That's a win-win for both. But often, the client wanted something unique and special, to solve a particular problem that no other client had. This is where I had to learn to say "no".
The first 5 clients of a SaaS B2B
New feature requests
For many years, I took almost every "request meeting" from our clients and stakeholders. I was the person in charge of telling the customer that we could or couldn't develop the feature request they asked for.

I took a 3 step process to do this:

1.- Understand the problem

First, I listened and understood the why behind the requirement using frameworks like the "5 why's ". Maybe the problem the client is facing could be solved with another feature,  a "workaround solution," or sometimes, there was not even a problem at all. In doing this, the stakeholder sees that you are trying to help, generating empathy towards you and the company.

2.- Analyzing the opportunity

If there was no "workaround solution," I tried to figure out if the feature request would be helpful for other customers, and if it was aligned with our product vision. Sometimes this required an extra meeting, so I had time to research with other customers if the problem to be solved was a real pain point. Also, I asked other areas like customer support, sales, and on-boarding if they've heard this request before.

3.- Saying no

When the feature request was too specific and not aligned with our vision, my approach was, to tell the truth. I said something like, "...Imagine we made every feature request that a client asks for. We would end up with so many unuseful features in our software and no time at all to complete the vision that we have, which is...", then I proceeded to explain our vision, and how they will be benefited from it if we make it a reality. Explaining this through honesty improved our relationship and confidence with customers.
How to say "no"
The importance of having a product vision

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