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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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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Live on ProdMgmtTalk July 25/26 – the love/hate relationship with Sales

Love them or hate them, you won’t have a successful product without your sales force.  So if you’re at a loose end on Monday night, come join me to discuss the relationship between Product Management and Sales on @ProdMgmtTalk.

  • In the UK, if you want to share your views, you’ll need to stay up past your bedtime on a school night.  The tweet chat is early Tuesday 26 July, midnight – 1:00 AM BST.
  • For the US, it will be Monday 25 July, between 4:00 – 5:00 PM PT
  • And for Australia it will be Tuesday 26 July 9:00 – 10:00 AM ET

I hope you can join me – I look forward to seeing you there.  Detail on the discussion and background reading is available after the break.
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How to get your sales team selling value instead of discounting

Does your sales team sell your products (like, in exchange for money), or does it give them away as generous sweeteners to guarantee the sale of something else that will hit their targets?  Or to put it in another way, does your sales force truly understand the value of your products and can it articulate the benefits to the customer?

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Why aren’t Sales selling my new product?

There are many reasons why Sales may be holding back on your new product.  As we all know, Salespeople are by nature shy, retiring types, who need constant reassurance.  You need to encourage and nurture them, delicate little flowers that they are.  Or at the very least, restrain the urge to run screaming at them with a baseball bat held aloft.

Here are some of the blatant excuses reasons I’ve found so far:

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