SBI recently spoke with Merijn te Booij, executive vice president of product strategy for Genesys. Genesys is an enterprise software company, and global provider of contact center solutions. The topic of conversation was the challenges faced when connecting the product roadmap to the sales strategy. Do it well, and you’ll make your number. Do it poorly, and revenue growth goals will be missed. It’s an issue faced by many product and sales leaders alike. We started at the beginning. How does Merijn develop his roadmap?
Building Your Product Roadmap
Genesys’ business has changed quite a bit recently. They have moved from a B2B sales model, to a B2C model. More and more they are relying on actual consumers to define what problems to solve for. Merijn explained questions he typically asks when building his roadmap. “Do we have differentiation, can we build a solution that fixes the problem, can we win, and is the return interesting enough to contemplate?”
Equally important, we asked Merijn how he involves the sales force during this stage of the process. He explained that at Genesys the sales team has input from the very start. Their sales team is a great judge of their customer and prospect’s needs since they spend the most time with them. Getting their input is critical to connecting the product strategy to the sales strategy, and building their roadmap.
Prioritizing Market Problems
The next step is prioritizing the problems that have been identified. You can’t be all things to everyone. So how does Merijn’s team prioritize these market problems?
He uses a process called PFM, or product fit for market. This involves asking questions like:
- Are you able to find a market?
- Can you generate leads in that market?
- Is there enough to make the return on investment worth it?
- Is it feasible to build a product that can mature in this space over time?
- Can you win with the product?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then they have a high degree of PFM. They then benchmark the PFMs against each other to understand which is most feasible with the highest return. This process guides their product development process.
And again, the sales team consistently maintains involvement. Merijn’s team runs all projects and ideas by the sales team. The refuse to create products in a silo, and instead involve sales in all parts, from ideation to messaging. “We call that interlock,” explained Merijn. “We spend quite a bit of time on making sure that between sales, marketing, and product, we are in complete interlock.” This alignment is key to their success.
Maintaining the Product Roadmap
We next turned the topic of discussion to maintaining the product roadmap. At Genesys, they have moved from projects that require careful planning and perfectionism, to quick iterations. “We use lean, which is a mutation of agile, and creates a lot of flexibility,” said Merijn. They create uses cases, keep requirements short, and involve several milestones along the way.
These quick iterations require alignment with the sales team as well. Since there isn’t a lot of time to plan, sales is involved in each step to help. Again, they are interlocked along the way during from cases and to project milestones to ensure that everyone understands the bigger picture.
In some ways these use cases, and milestones have replaced the traditional product roadmap for Genesys. “I think that the road map is difficult work sometimes because it’s a long term, committed plan,” explained Merijn. Instead of selling a roadmap, he recommends selling what you have and building your sales strategy on top of that. He uses their milestones and uses cases to set the direction, and to show innovation and thought leadership.
At the end of the day, it is critical for the sales and product teams to be in alignment. The two strategies must be integrated. It’s the only way to sustain revenue growth. Most companies spend somewhere between 10% and 20% of their annual revenue on research and development. Make sure it’s on the right thing. Essentially, make sure it’s on products your sales team can sell. And the only way to do that is for the product and sales teams to work together, as they do at Genesys.