My good friend Geoffrey Anderson (@ganders2112) recently wrote about a situation we product managers sometimes find ourselves in. When sales are not going well, company leadership might ask product management come in to help the sales team to hit quota. This can be a bad thing or a good thing. As Geoff said:
…when the bookings are light, often product management is diverted to “fix” the problem. [Often] not a great idea. Apart from promotions, and aggressive discounting, there isn’t much in the product manager’s toolkit that can provide instant relief to revenue shortfalls.
We roll up our sleeves, do what we can, and then catch hell when it doesn’t really move the needle. Furthermore, and this is one of the hazards of a sales led organization, it’s all hands on deck to handle the opportunities in the pipeline, and all future work is sidelined.
Essentially, turn the product managers into sales people and forget about product management for a while.Putting product managers on the sales team can lead to no new products to sell down the road! Click To Tweet
Helping to enable the sales team with sales enablement tools and a good go-t0-market strategy is part of the product management role. But the danger of pulling us into sales is that we can’t do our regular job – creating new products and feature – to enables the sales organization to have products to sell in six months, or next year.
And if that pipeline of new products shuts down for a little while, it can have a huge negative effect on the company as a whole. (Of course, so does not selling enough this quarter. If we can’t sell today, we might not have a chance to release a new product in six months!)
In the spirit of expediency, let’s recognize that the real world has more impact on our lives than our theories do.
So, how do we turn being co-opted by sales into big wins for the company’s products over time?
To start with, let’s go into the situation with a framework for future success. In other words, a plan for learning, then sharing that learning, and then exiting.
We’ll start with some assumptions:
Your focus should be on using the various go-to-market rules of thumb to help the Sales and Marketing teams get better:
In fact, if you triangulate to any go-to-market methodology, or sales methodology, those are the basic points.
Make sure that your efforts to help sales are leveraged over time. Anything you do to help them in specific deals should be converted into go-to-market and sales enablement for future use. You can use the following three techniques to get started.
Have you been called into the breach to help close more sales? I’d love to hear your stories. Let me know in the comments, or drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.
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