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Sales is Product Management.
A strong relationship between product management and sales is important for established organizations and startups. In this episode of This Is Product Management, Steli Efti, CEO of Close.io, shares how product teams can leverage sales teams before and after product-market fit and how to scale a sales team.
Every Product Manager Needs To Work In Sales – For a while.
If you want to build a strong relationship with sales, it’s helpful to understand their context. The best way to understand the world from a sales perspective is to spend a bit of time in their shoes. Jim Anderson suggests that product managers spend some time in sales in order to “have an opportunity to learn how to negotiate, how to close deals, and what the true value of persistence is.”
How to address the product manager – sales team disconnect.
Difficult relationships between product managers and sales is an underlying reason that products fail. Antonia Bozhkova digs into the various aspects of that relationship, “dissects the ecosystem in which the product manager invariably finds herself to be the centerpiece, defines the various forces that exert pressure on the PM, and outlines the pains that keep PMs awake at night.”
Rich Mironov has noticed misaligned expectations between Sales/Marketing and Engineering Product Management. He calls it the software development deli counter problem, and shares “some symptoms, root causes, and a few ideas to reduce the mutual frustration.”
How successful Product Managers deal with tough sales teams
When a salesperson is not selling, she will naturally get testy. And the Product Manager will likely feel the brunt of it. As a defense, you should make sure that the sales team understand exactly how the product should be positioned by working closely with marketing.
One of the biggest battles a Product Management team will face will be keeping up with the constant feature requests and improvements coming from customers via deal-hungry salespeople. Melissa Perri experienced just that and came to realize that to fix the problem, a company needs to re-shift the sales team to be product-led and have alternative compensation mechanisms.
Along with many other valuable insights, Ben Horowitz in an infamous article stressed that good Product Managers are loved by sales. They achieve this by being focused on making them money and knowing the field as well as they do.
One of the reasons a conflict or disconnect arises between product and sales is that both parties have different understandings of what customer success ultimately means. For sales, ‘responsiveness’ means that the company is delivering to the customer what is required, as quickly as possible. For product, ‘productivity’ means that a system is in place to continually deliver a high-quality product over a long period of time. A satisfactory solution to this complex issue will differ depending on your organization but Rich Mironov suggests that you consider a more stubborn product roadmap, a sales-driven roadmap or a budget that allows for interruptions.