Welcome to 2010! For most of us, January brings a flurry of activity preparing for the annual Sales Kickoff. Your Sales team is an important “window” into what’s going on in your market place. Here are three of our favorite ways to make sure the window stays open and the right information flows both ways.
1. Stand out at the Sales meeting. Don’t just do another product demo, ask for feedback, and sit down – this is a guaranteed nap-inducer! (No wonder they all head to the bar after a long day of meetings!) Instead, liven things up with an Innovation Game or two. gather input on feature priorities by playing Buy a Feature or Speed Boat. Tap their creativity with Product Box or Give Them A Hot Tub. If you don’t have time to organize Games, call us – Mara and I are Certified Facilitators for this powerful and fun technique.
2. Remove a “choke point” in the Buying Cycle. You have mapped your product’s buying cycle, right? If not, take advantage of the Sales meeting to interview some key sales people and begin that process. They’ll tell you where buyers get stuck; where the delays in the process occur. Then work with Marketing Communications to address buyer concerns with the right tactics: a set of competitive talking points, a white paper explaining the product advantages, a case study that details a customer’s success… whatever it takes. This isn’t a one-time shot. Keep this conversation going with your Sales team and you’ll be a hero!
3. Perform win/loss analysis. This practice delivers powerful insights in several ways. First, you get to talk with customers to find out why they really bought, and leverage that in your marketing. Was it really the sales rep’s sparkling personality? Or was it a specific capability that competitors can’t match? Second, you get to talk with buyers who didn’t choose your product to find out why – essential information for segmenting your market and expanding your market share. Third, you get to find out more about the buying cycle and how well your sales team executed, so you can work to remove more of the choke points we talked about above. We think that win/loss analysis should be outsourced to an objective third party. Why? The results aren’t subject to any group’s tendency to skew the result in support a specific point of view.
What are you going to do this year to work better with your Sales Team? Share your thoughts! For more about how your peers work with their Sales teams, see the results from last month’s Input survey. Also, take this month’s survey and you can request your own copy of Pivotal PM’s Buying Cycle Mapping Template. This very useful template helps you work with Sales to identify the buying cycle steps for your product, and pinpoint the choke points and gaps so you can take action.
For more about working effectively with Sales and the other teams in your organization, join us Feb. 16 and 17 for the Product Management Intensive.