Leverage your product through sales by viewing sales as your customer.
In a high-tech company with a large product portfolio it can be a challenge to get your new products out there. You might have done your research. You know the customers. You know the jobs they want to get done. You know about their pains and gains. You have finally managed to produce a great product based on these insights. It feels good. And yet you are having trouble getting it out there. Why? You still have to get through to your salespeople. If they do not buy your product they will not sell your product. As a Product Manager, you need to start thinking about your salespeople as your customer.
Experienced salespeople have strong personal relationships. They have sales goals they want to achieve. And they know which products they can sell. They know what works. Why risk that by trying to sell your new and unproven products? To get your new products to sell you need to get through to your salesforce. A way to do that is by treating them as your customer.
Prove your product is sellable
Think about how a new technology is adopted in the market. All starts by finding the first users. Think about your salespeople in the same way. Find the innovators among your salesforce. The early adopters. In high tech b2b sales there will be people that are intrigued by new products and features. The same way you target customers you can target parts of your salesforce. Create your evangelists among the salesforce. Initially you work closely with your evangelists to show the rest of the salesforce that selling your product is possible and profitable.
Launch your product internally
A product launch is communication to the market. When your product is launched you also need to make sure the product value is communicated internally. Especially to sales. Engage your salesforce. What is the product’s target market and what is the value in that market? Why has the product been developed? How does it fit in the portfolio? This is about understanding the value and the context. Make sure you understand the competitive landscape in which you product operates. And communicate your products' weaker sides as well. Not just the strength. In order for salespeople to sell your new product they need to trust it. And they will not trust it if all they hear is how good it is. Everything has weaknesses.
Recommended Reading: Checklist for A Successful Launch
Supporting sales in getting their job done
The customers do not want drilling machines. They want holes. The job they want to get done is to make holes. Or at an even higher level, the might want to build a house. What does your salespeople want to accomplish? They want to sell. And it is not easy. You need to appreciate how hard it is and make sure you understand their pains and gains. You need to understand how you can facilitate the process and make your sales-peoples' lives easier. Think about the selling process. Or more importantly, the buyers journey. Align your marketing messages with the value you have communicated around your product. Provide marketing material that support and leverage your value message throughout the buyer’s journey. And listen to your salespeople’s feedback. Help your product sell by leveraging and supporting your salespeople.
Recommended reading: The answer to successful pricing and marketing: Your Value Logic
These are not new ideas. But thinking about your salesforce as your internal customer offers an exciting perspective. Think about the models you use to segment customers, to direct marketing messages. About the value argumentation to different target customers. These concepts are as useful for external customers as for your internal customers – the salesforce. After all, it does not matter how great your product is if it is not being sold. And no matter how you think about it – sales is your channel to the market.