Only 1 in 20 new products actually experience success in the marketplace. Whether it’s software, soap or surgical equipment, the chance of failure is high. So, what does it take to ensure your product beats the odds? Designing a product that sells isn’t an accident. It’s a result of a deliberate, integrated process, or what you might call a “perfect storm” of multiple interrelated considerations and practices.

How can you create that perfect storm? Here are three keys to designing products that sell.

1. Solve real problems

As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” innovation is driven by the quest to solve the real problems encountered by real consumers in their everyday lives. This is why the most successful product designers observe firsthand how actual consumers interact with existing products, looking for “pain points” in users’ experiences as opportunities for overcoming a design flaw or improving on a design.

It’s critical to stay in touch with the actual practicalities of the problem you’re trying to solve with your product. Don’t ever let the design process turn into an abstract exercise. This means considering every step in the use of a product or service and conducting extensive market research as well as value chain analysis. Tap into user forums, customer advisory boards and other methods for gathering data before diving into concept design.

2. Challenge key assumptions

The ability to question assumptions by asking the right questions may be the most important but under-appreciated dimension of product development, as well as the secret to unsticking a stuck process. Albert Einstein was reported to have said, If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.

Some of the most dangerous assumptions are those that may feel intuitively right but don’t hold water. An example is the assumption that the more features a product has, the more desirable to consumers it will be. In reality, research shows that before purchase, consumers may be attracted to a product with a wealth of bells and whistles, realizing only after they purchase that the product delivers an unfriendly user experience.

Taken within the broader context of the consumer and product lifecycle, the assumption that a feature-rich product is necessarily ideal is a severe liability. Assumptions like these need to be identified at every point in the product development process. Whether that relates to product features, materials and cost structures, compliance issues, target price points, and target channels and so forth, don’t allow any assumption to go unchallenged.

3. Insist on coordination

No matter how experienced a design team, otherwise successful products can be derailed by a lack of transparent coordination between stakeholders (including distributors, suppliers, EMS Providers, and OEM), making intensive coordination a crucial piece of the product development puzzle.

Viewing product design, for example, as occurring independently from development, manufacturing, marketing, and sales is a recipe for failure. Successful product development depends on careful coordination at every point in the process, from conception all the way to launch. Implement best practices to recruit stakeholders’ input and gain buy-in on success criteria, as well as for integrated execution and adaptive course-correction.

At Pivot we understand coordination is central to a product’s success, which is why we’ve done away with departmental silos. We’ve replaced these silos with cross-functional, highly collaborative teams who work closely with clients to innovate solutions to their toughest design, development, and manufacturing challenges.

Designing a product that sells isn’t rocket science, but it doesn’t happen without a deliberate, disciplined process. By entering the product development process with an eye for solving real problems, challenging assumptions, and insisting on cross-functional coordination, you can increase the likelihood your product will defy statistics and make your business a success story.

At Pivot, we’ve been partnering with businesses for more than 46 years and are the driving force behind some of the most innovative products on the market. If you’d like to learn more, reach out to us for a no-obligation consultation to see how we can help take your product and business into a profitable future.