Selling a software product? Selling more than one? You may need to pivot entirely, or kill one of those products. Sometimes the signs are easy to see, but sometimes not; here are some I’ve encountered in companies I’ve built or worked with:
1. The engineers supporting the product are showing signs of low self-esteem, poor health, unhappiness and/or above-average grumpiness.
2. Salespeople really don’t like to sell it (hate it, even), or have stopped trying to sell it, or the sales team has stopped asking for new features for the product.
3. The team is afraid to criticize the product because they think the CEO loves it.
4. You haven’t shipped a new feature in the last three months.
5. A major bug in the product takes three months to fix.
6. A major bug in the product wasn’t noticed for three months (worse).
7. Your product’s new features are not driven by internal innovation, but by feature requests from a small number of big customers, thus making the product less and less generally useful.
8. Your biggest customers refuse to upgrade to the newest version.
9. The biggest competitor for this product just went out of business.
10. The biggest competitor for this product just got acquired, and the acquirer shut the product down (though by itself this might be a good thing because as we know, many acquirers are crazy!).
If you’re a one-product business, pivot. Or if you have multiple products, kill this one and write off the revenue. Fire a few customers if you have to. Sleep better at night.