I recently had the honor of participating on a panel for Woods Creek Consulting’s Sales Executive Peer Group. The topic of discussion: Building a Lengendary Relationship with Product Management.
There were several good points brought up in the conversation (more in future posts), but here’s a key point that Sales needs from us: prioritization!
Anyone out there managing a group of product managers, listen up! Sales needs you to set the priorities and position products and product lines against each other.
You know where this problem comes from. Not every product or product line carries the same weight. The PdMs managing lines that are earning less revenue want an equal shot at Sales’ attention so they can earn more. But that has to be a strategic decision, not a “fair” one. And it can only be made at the management level. Then work with Sales Management to communicate how each product supports the strategy.
And at the product level, Sales can’t sell every feature. So don’t spend a lot of time trying to get them to know and sell every feature. Even though you’d like this to happen to reduce the number of sales support calls you deal with, it won’t. So focus your message to Sales on benefits, supported by key features, and provide reference material for the rest.
Here are some of the suggestions that came out of the conversation for helping Sales know what to focus on:
Build a common view of the customer between Sales and Product Management. If you’re serving multiple segments, create profiles for the typical customer in each segment. Then organize products so that Sales knows which products to focus on when selling in each segment. And here’s my tip: provide qualifying questions for every product you want Sales to sell. Build a decision tree to help Sales quickly narrow down the products that a prospect should hear about.
Build shared accountability between Sales & PdM for revenue targets and inventory. This prevents Product Management from simply throwing products over the wall and letting Sales figure out what to do. Giving PdMs skin in the game will focus their daily priorities rather quickly, I suspect.
What about it… how do you position your products internally? Are you accountable for meeting the forecast for your product? How would you feel if you were?