The various teams that comprise a sales organization are your company’s “tip of the spear” — they speak to customers and prospects all day, every day, and therefore have a very good pulse on customer challenges, competitors and market needs of your solutions. The sales team understands how your solution will drive value for your customer.
As you speak with customers and prospects, you notice trends. Holes in your product become evident. You learn more about your competitors and how to compete with them. The challenge then becomes, how do you convey all this market information to your Product Management counterparts in a way that is repeatable, measurable, and data-driven?
I’ve found that regardless of your title in the sales organization — SDR, Exec, Manager, all the way up to CRO — there are 3 things you better know when speaking with Product Management.
1. Know your own solution — cold
I can’t tell you how many times a rep has come to me and said, “If we had this feature, the customer would purchase.” To which I say, “We already have that feature.” Don’t be this person. You owe it to yourself, your customers, and your company who trusts you with their revenue to know your own solution. Be proactive about your own product learning.
2. Know the WHY
Why is this particular feature important to a customer? What is the business impact to the customer if they have it? You need to understand the value of why your client is asking for a particular piece of functionality or new feature — otherwise you run the risk of being misunderstood when conveying your feedback from the field to your Product team.
3. Have data at the ready
Are the trends you’ve keyed into occurring in a particular vertical? Only in enterprise accounts and not SMB and mid-market? Only in EMEA and not North America? Have the data accessible, and be deeply familiar with it. If you’re responsible for a small region, or single account, it doesn’t matter — understand what the total business impact is by adding this feature or functionality.
The bottom line: when your customer-facing teams collaborate productively with Product Management to truly understand customer and market needs, the whole company wins. You get the features needed to move forward in the market, block your competitors, and ultimately play a part in defining the marketplace.