A sputtering product launch can kill your game plan for the year.
Missed sales numbers and nagging customer service concerns could point to poor sales strategy alignment.
We’ll outline the Wrong and Right Way to inspect your product strategy to identify alignment issues and get back your product launch back on track.
The Wrong Way: Product strategy is created AFTER the marketing and sales strategy.
Here are the symptoms of a misaligned product strategy:
- You find the work conducted by your teams is out of order. They may influence each other but just not in the right way.
- You find the product is overbuilt. It is engineered to be “the perfect product”. Worse than this, the product you’ve developed may not reflect actual user needs.
- You find the product is under-performing. Because the product you ship isn’t built to satisfy a vetted list of user needs, it misses the mark and sales lag. Why? …Because the product management team is building to a different set of expectations.
It’s a “blind date” between product, marketing, and sales – with the prospects or customers stuck in the middle. It really points back to the misalignment within sales, marketing, and product development.
The Right Way: Product strategy is created BEFORE the marketing and sales strategy.
Actually the entire process should start with the customer. To create great products, you need to understand the user needs, wants, and deepest desires.
Dig deep into what makes your customers tick.
- What is it they want?
- What do they need?
- What desires will be fulfilled?
This logically leads to an understanding of market or industry problems at a more macro level. You need to see the trends.
Focus on the minimal viable product (initially, at start-up) that’s easily marketed, sold, and customer-focused. Invaluable lessons can be learned.
Remember though, users or customers are not always the same as buyers. The sales team is appealing to the buyer’s desires to improve results. The product itself is solving the user’s problem.
Build and use buyer and user personas.
The marketing team should fully understand the persona development based upon good, ethnographic research. However, there are 2 kinds of personas:
- User persona – the product team uses these to develop a product feature set. They focus on product usage. The sales team will leverage the persona in order to influence sales messaging or approach.
- Buyer persona – the sales team defines the core motivation, crafts an approach in order to penetrate prospect organizations, or necessary sales content or tools.
I suggest downloading our Persona Builder spreadsheet. This tool will help you quickly and easily organize your persona information. It’s ready to go, just fill in the blanks.
Define the roles and responsibilities across your teams
What each team does is important. Defining the lines between groups is important. It’s critical to define what each team does and to delineate the different roles.
- Marketing explains the product to the prospect, customer, and the rest of organization.
- Product management documents the product to expose benefits to the target prospect.
- Sales leverage the product features, specifications, and benefits in the pitch.
As a collective, they should craft branding, scenarios of use, and benefit statements. These all help to attract new prospects and repeat customers.
Understand and incorporate sales feedback
You can look for insights in your sales team’s Win/Loss Reports.
The sales team needs to follow-up with the customer, in a winning situation. Conversely, the team also needs to engage with the lost prospect, in a lost deal. The information collected is important.
Setting a regular cadence for this type of reporting will get all of the teams excited. Specifically, the sales team must be listening for the customer pain points. Addressing unmet needs or product features, before funneling them back into the product strategy.
Sharing this information regularly brings fresh perspectives, innovation, and strategy into everything you manage. You empower Product Managers to be mini-entrepreneurs.
Let them build the vision for the product and drive it forward.
Successful CEOs align marketing, sales, and product strategies
Several perspectives must align to successfully align, define, and execute the product strategy.
Your product, sales, and marketing strategies must be interconnected with as much insight driven by the “voice of the customer”. The ultimate goal is to develop a product strategy that is aligned seamlessly with the sales and marketing strategy.
- The wrong way leads to the development of products that miss customer needs. Not to mention revenue targets.
- The right way cuts across customers, sales, marketing, and product management teams.
They influence each other, leading to greater levels of understanding and better product strategy. To stay on top of these strategies, please join 54,000 of your peers who receive actionable content daily in their inbox every day.