54: How to stop common B2B dysfunctions in the product team

For those of you who work in business-to-business (B2B) companies, how many of these sound familiar?

“Our product team is always called in to fight customer fires post-sale.”

“Sales people bring product managers along to answer customers’ techie questions.”

“The product team isn’t allowed to speak to customers unless they’re in a sales meeting.”

“Our sales team will often sell something that doesn’t exist, then make it the product team’s problem to make it happen.”

“Our product backlog is full of priority feature requests that the sales person says the customer needs before they’ll purchase.”

You’re not going crazy – nor are you alone. These are common dysfunctions plaguing product teams in B2B companies the world over.

How do you stop them happening? Read on for some suggestions.

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3 ways to build a better sales team

The sales team: one of the topics about which product managers seem to vent most. The relationship between product management and the sales team can work well, but more often than not it’s a source of frustration for both sides. And if your company is in the business of selling products, it’s in your best interests to fix this problem. Here are three ways companies can build a better sales team.

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6 simple rules of product management

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m usually based in the UK, where I run my company, Product People. Back at the end of July, Adrienne Tan and Nick Coster from Brainmates helped me to avoid a wintry British summer by asking me over to spend August in Sydney with them to create some brand-new training content for one of their clients. What was particularly interesting was that the training wasn’t intended for the practitioners on their client’s product team – it was to introduce everyone else in the organisation to the concepts of product management.

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48: Mac or PC? You don’t have to pick a side

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

If you lived in the UK or US at the time, you may remember the Apple adverts from a years ago gently mocking their competitor, Microsoft:

I’ve learned that it’s perfectly fine not to pick a side.

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32: Be flexible

I’m writing about 100 things I’ve learned as a product manager.

I’ve just kicked off another project through my firm, Product People Limited.  With the inevitable flurry of project start-up activity, a couple of basic tasks have reminded me how important it is for product managers to be as flexible as possible, whenever possible.

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31: Learn to enjoy networking

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

Business networking used to hold about as much appeal for me as speed-dating with alligators.  It was only later that I came to tolerate it, even enjoy it, but only after I learned to think about it differently.  If the prospect of a room of people at an event fills you with dread, read on, this may help.

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What you should expect when recruiting a product manager

or: What makes a good product manager?

After my slightly frivolous post last time, I wanted to follow up with a more practical article intended for people wanting to hire a product manager and, by the same token, those of you wanting to step into that role.

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Why Sales needs to align with Product Management to win more business

This is a reprint of an article I wrote as a guest post for Mark Gibson.  You can see the original articles on Admarco.net and Business2Community.

Quarter-inch drills or quarter-inch holes?

Despite relying on each other for the success of their products, the Sales and Product teams often have a jarring relationship.  This is far from ideal.  By looking at where things go wrong we can identify a better way of working with each other.  The prizes on offer: shorter sales cycles, more easily achieved targets and customers who are always happy to hear from you.

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22: Blow your own trumpet

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

If you’ve worked in product management for a while, you’ll almost certainly have been annoyed by others taking credit for your hard work.  Your boss will make some kind of announcement that Salesy McSalesdroid had won a massive deal, aren’t they great, they get a free island and half of your salary as bonus, yadda yadda yadda.

Everyone conveniently ignores that you held their hand to all the customer meetings, wrote AND DELIVERED the pitch to the customer, rearranged your roadmap to squeeze in some customer-specific features, and basically did everything needed to secure the deal.  But the main reason nobody else knows this is because you didn’t actually tell anyone!

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20: Leave work when you’re meant to

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

It took me a while to learn this one, but it’s genuinely helped me to sleep more soundly at night and avoid setting unrealistic expectations about how much I can get done in a given amount of time.

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