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At most B2B companies, there exists a substantial disconnect between the sales organization and the product management team. There, I said it. Now let me elaborate.

As a sales professional, I meet every day with customers, both existing and potential. Above all, I listen. During these conversations, I try to understand what exactly they’re trying to accomplish. I ask a lot of questions. And I try to map their unmet needs to Wizeline’s current product offering. If there’s overlap (and there almost always is) we dig deeper and together we advance to the next stage in the sales cycle.

On the product management side of the equation, the situation isn’t all that different. Here at Wizeline, my counterpart is our Director of Product, Matt Pasienski. Matt is, hands down, one of the smartest guys I know. He too is actively involved with our customers, trying to understand what their needs are — and how he and his team can build new products to help them solve their biggest business problems.

So, where’s the difficulty?

Despite having a shared interest in customer needs, sales teams and product teams almost always fail to maximize their collective potential. In a single sentence: Product feels overwhelmed, Sales feels ignored. It looks something like this:

Sales: Y u no build my feature request

How PMs spend their time

It doesn’t have to be this way. Wizeline has developed a simple, yet effective solution for harmonizing the efforts of your sales and product teams. Here are just a few ways we’re using Wizeline (our own platform) to win customers and build our pipeline.

Tie Feature Requests to Opportunity Dollars
Using Wizeline Product Tracker, a powerful CRM integration we’ve built for Salesforce, my team can easily submit feature requests from the field. Each request is tied to the revenue amount on the opportunity in question. Armed with this data, our PMs can prioritize features based on pipeline and revenue potential. It’s an easy way for both teams to tune the product roadmap for revenue.

Product Roadmap Transparency
With Product Tracker, our sales team receives automatic updates any time the status of a particular feature changes. Changes are also automatically visible on our product roadmap, which we’re all able to view via shared URL. We can track every feature, every update.

Wizeline's intelligent product roadmaps

Get Automatic Updates, Revive Old Opportunities
One of our most effective use cases for Product Tracker is turning automatic updates into new revenue opportunities. Remember that feature your team requested back in Q1? Product Tracker notifies you when it’s ready and provides a pipeline report containing all of the opportunities, open or lost, tied to that particular feature. Now get out there and sell!

Accountability is a two way street. Once Product has prioritized something, they’re on the hook for delivering it, on-time and bug-free. As for the sales team, if we convince Product to build a new feature we deem critical to five big opportunities, we’re on the hook to close those deals once the feature is delivered. With Wizeline, we’ve been able to promote more accountability and, as a result, foster more trust between the two teams.

Know Why You’re Losing
Product Tracker’s out-of-the-box dashboards include reports highlighting which product gaps are making us lose — and, equally important, which already-built features are helping us win. With these insights, we know with certainty which features immediately impact our current opportunities.

Win Customers
At the end of the day, closing deals and making customers happy is about delivering great products that solve problems. Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my few months of using Wizeline Product Tracker is that using customer- and deal-related data to help prioritize product roadmap items is hands-down the #1 way to achieve better product-market fit. If you nail that, you’ll win customers and drive revenue, end of story.

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, meet me at Dreamforce next week or reach out to our sales team to learn more. Thanks for stopping by!

James Nielsen is VP of Global Sales & Customer Success at Wizeline

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Posted by on Thursday, October 9, 2014.


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