It’s a common story. Sales wants one-off features to close specific deals this quarter, while Product wants a one-size-fits-all scalable solution. It’s a classic case of short-term vs long-term priorities. Neither one is right so it can get frustrating for everyone.
Having spent a decade running product and another decade running sales, here’s what I’ve learned about how to make the sales/product partnership work:
1. Be systematic about gathering customer feedback
Don’t just listen to your most vocal reps or your biggest customers. Set up a call reporting process for all your AEs and CSMs to collect feedback from all customers, and be proactive about getting leaders from the product team in front of a diverse mix of customers.
2. Focus on identifying customer problems
Don’t just pass along feature requests. Do some digging on the pain points behind the request. Product teams work best when given problems to solve and worst when given features to build.
3. Stack rank problems by revenue opportunity and number of customers
This steers you away from solving for one or two big customers and towards delivering high impact for a broader market segment. Having a call reporting process in place makes this a breeze as you can easily track how often a request comes up.
4. Review the problem stack every two weeks with your product counterparts
Establishing a regular review cycle not only ensures the highest priority problems are being addressed but also increases your visibility into the product development process and helps build a strong working relationship for when things don’t go to plan.
5. Be accountable when rolling out new products
Don’t wing it and blame the product when the sales don’t materialize. Make sure you create a target customer list within your current customer base, an adoption goal, sales collateral, a sales training session and be transparent about the results.
Solid advice. It's almost like you've been a PM before ;)