You want to talk to potential customers so you can get a better understanding of their needs and gain intelligence to influence your decisions moving forward. Sales calls offer a great opportunity to talk to potential customers. Except that your search for information that helps future decisions may conflict a bit with your sales team who wants to sell something now.
The 4++ times Product Managers meet B2B customers. Phil Horby identified at least 4 situations where product managers can speak to customers: selling, supporting, apologizing (or saying “no”), and discovery. It’s helpful to know what you’re trying to accomplish, and which type of meeting is best suited for that purpose. If you have an opportunity to be involved with a sales call, keep in mind that the main activity is selling, and the chances that you’ll be able to do much worthwhile discovery is fairly small.
Partnering On Sales Calls. Sales calls are not going to offer the best opportunity for you to discover a lot of information about prospective customers, but they are important because they are often a critical step in actually selling your product. Clement Kao explains that when you join your sales team on calls, “you can provide additional value and increase the odds that your company will close the deal. After all, as a product manager, you hold unique insight about your product that others may not have.”
Driving Sales Calls as a Product Manager. The main reason product managers join sales calls is to make sure that you are selling your product. To make sure you’re as effective as possible with those sales calls, you need to understand the appropriate level of involvement that you should have. Clement Kao explains that if you’re working on a fairly established product you can partner with your sales teams on sales calls. If you’re working on a new product you will find yourself driving those sales calls. Clement explains why it’s important for you to drive sales calls for new products and how you can effectively drive those calls.
Ten Things Product Managers Should Know About Supporting Sales. Even though as a product manager you “are at the epicenter of driving the product and therefore the hub of product knowledge.” you don’t want to spend all of your time directly supporting the sales process. Not unless you want to become a sales engineer. Daniel Shefer explains that you want to look at your interaction with sales, and your participation in sales calls, from the perspective of a consultant rather than a full-time participant.
Product Management or Sales: Who’s Responsible for the Product Demo?. “Imagine one of your sales reps pings you to ask if you’ll hop on a sales call to give a product demo to a prospective customer. It’s a Fortune 500 firm, your rep tells you, and he’d really prefer to have you do the walkthrough. You know the product so well, after all.” That demo goes great and you feel good for helping the sales team, until the next request comes in, and then the next one, and the one after that… Is this really what a product manager should be doing? Maddy Kirsch takes a look at who should own the product demo and explains why it should be sales’ responsibility.