As the sun set over London recently, I sat by the window in my hotel room overlooking Heathrow airport having a conversation with a friend who is a start-up CEO. She was navigating a tricky situation with competitors and industry thought leaders. As we talked, the topic of all the things the product could do in the future emerged, and we discussed how it didn't do nearly all of the things she envisioned. This is a typical challenge for those with vision and a clear understanding of the value their product can bring as its capabilities expand.
However, as a member of a product or services team, do not even consider communicating futures to anyone. When it comes to what the product will do in the future, ask questions, take notes, and communicate gratitude for their input. Be prepared to communicate with customers your recognition that there is so much more you are planning to do without being specific. Be sure to draw clear lines between reality (what's available today) and futures (what may be available down the road). Honesty, clarity, transparency, and listening all go a long way to developing long-term customer relationships.
Having your conversations be about the customer's success, prioritizing value you plan to deliver according to their needs, and aligning as much as you can with what they need and want in the priority order they need and want it will lead to success for both you and them.
Shifting focus from who you are and what you do to who the customer is and what they need and want is hard! It's so fundamental to building a successful business, but it's also incredibly rare.
Do it in your business and watch what happens!