Great companies know how to educate the market about their products.
But what if the buyer isn’t buying from you, even if they’ve been educated? What if Marketing has actively informed the market with a sound content marketing strategy? In spite of this, what if the buyer awarded their business to a competitor because your product simply isn’t good enough? Then consider this:
- Your product is not competitive
- The buyer knows why
It is time for Sales Operations to inform the Builder of the product.
Sales Operations can link Product Management to the buyer.
While making their decision, buyers publicly express themselves online. They write reviews. They read reviews. Buyer-generated content influences the sales cycle long before they talk to you. Product Management should be mining that online commentary to inform their feature set.
But no communication is more effective than face-to-face conversation. The Sales organization is best positioned to facilitate that conversation. When are buyers most verbally expressive? At the moment their decision has been made.
Whether your Sales team won or lost the sale, the buyer will tell you why. It is in the best, long-term interest of Sales to harvest these insights and inform Product Management.
Use the Win-Loss Interview to gather feedback on your product.
Win-Loss interviews are an effective way to collect feedback from buyers after the purchase decision has been made. They enable the customer to speak freely about the reasons why they made their decision. If done right, they will give you reasons, both good and bad. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you start:
- Win-Loss interviews are typically part of a larger, complex initiative such as Sales Process or Account Segmentation. If you need product feedback, I suggest you add a few questions to the interview that obtain that information.
- Win-Loss interviews should be led by an impartial third-party, not the Sales Rep. This duty falls to either Sales Ops or an experienced firm.
- Be prepared. When you ask the buyer to participate in a Win-Loss Interview, you only have one shot at getting the feedback you need. Include questions that match your product objective: inform Product Management with valuable insights.
For assistance in tracking your Win-Loss interviews download the Win-Loss Interview Tracker.
Be valuable to Product Management.
Every good Product Manager wants to be the next Steve Jobs. They’re objective is to build products that change the innovative landscape. They can’t do that without hearing the voice of the customer.
Just as you provide support to the VP of Sales to make their number, you can provide support to the VP of Product to make a better product. Leverage the hands-on experience of the buyer to influence the product development process. Position your findings in the following ways:
- Discontinue poor performers. Some features and products don’t work. Kill them. Product Management might not know this. If you hear this feedback in your Win-Loss interview, tell Product Management.
- Encourage innovative development. Some features and products don’t exist yet. Build them. Immediately. Before the competition does. Get that information from the buyer and feed that back to the Product Team.
- Improve the product marketing message. Your customer might not know key features of your product that already exist. Inform Product Marketing to improve their messaging to help the Sales team sell better.
The buyer will help Sales make their number.
When using Win-Loss Interviews to improve your product offering, the VP of Sales you support sells more. An evolving, competitive product that meets the needs of the buyer will gain market share and exceed revenue expectations.
The late 90’s were the gold rush of the wireless communications industry. I started my Product Management career working for a small industry player, Nextel Communications. The founders listened to the blue-collar workers who said “I don’t want to carry a walkie-talkie and a mobile phone.”
Nextel launched Direct Connect, the combination of two communication devices into one. The Nextel customer base became the most loyal and valuable in the industry. In 2005 Sprint bought Nextel for $35 Billion. The buyer spoke, the Builder listened.