Product management is responsible for PLM, but it takes a team effort to be consistently successful.  So how should sales and marketing be involved in the PLM?  And how does caring about it benefit those teams?

How often do you hear sales and marketing teams being critical of the product portfolio?  Your products!  It is easy for people to sit in the cheap seats and judge.  But why does it continue to happen?  Ironically, it’s because they are sitting in those proverbial cheap seats and not being actively involved.  Yes, sales and marketing teams need to both care about, and be involved in PLM.

 

The immediate push back to this position is “but that is product management’s responsibility”.  This is a correct statement.  Product management is responsible for PLM, but it takes a team effort to be consistently successful.  So how should sales and marketing be involved in the PLM?  And how does caring about it benefit those teams?

 

Download the Product Planning Tool to review a one page product planning business canvas, evaluate the products you need to solve, and figure out the best method to solve them, and evaluate your cost structures and revenue streams.

 

For more information about Product and Sales interlock, read this article, titled “How Top Companies Interlock Product Development and Sales.”

 

To answer the above questions, let’s break down the PLM into sections:

 

  • Product planning

     

  • Pre-launch

     

  • Post-launch

     

Marketing and Sales Are Pivotal Voices of the Customer During Product Planning

 

When reviewing the product planning phase, you consider the following activities:

 

  • New products include all activities surrounding product ideation to business case approval

     

  • Products enhancements will prioritize and incorporate the backlog during this phase

     

So why should sales and marketing care about the business planning of a product?  These teams are the closest to the customer, whether through sales campaigns or market surveys.  The intel they receive on a regular basis makes them an automatic invite to the table.  For more information about connecting buyer insights, read “Stack the Deck in Your Favor by Connecting Buyer Insights to Go to Market Efforts.”

 

This explains why your Product Managers care, but does that also apply to sales and marketing?  Yes!  First, let’s look at the sales team.  On a day to day basis, this team has the pulse of the market more than any team.  Also, as the face of the customer, it is the sales teams’ reputation on the line.  Without influence on what goes into the product, the sales team loses credibility with the customer.

 

A similar situation occurs with marketing.  Interviews and surveys go out to get the pulse of the market.  Campaigns are run to make customers aware of products and educate them.  As the voice of the customer, not closing the feedback loop just make this noise.  Marketing cares because the market intelligence they bring needs to support the campaigns they’re running.

 

Not incorporating customer feedback in this phase can undermine the great sales and marketing work.

 

Pre-Launch Preparation for Marketing and Sales Accelerate Success Rates of Product Launches

 

The pre-launch phase is where you set the foundation for a great launch or slow start.  This is the reason sales and marketing should care about the pre-launch phase.  There are metrics, whether ROMI or new launch sales contests being monitored closely.

 

For marketing, you can set the foundation for their (and your) launch success.  This is accomplished through strategy sessions discussing value propositions and competitor positioning.  Discussing the personas and how to message based on market intelligence drives succinct messaging.  In addition, consistent talk tracks are established to assist the sales enablement team.  The reward is low during this phase, but it will be well worth it at launch.

 

It is also during this time the sales enablement team is activated.  The marketing has the messaging in place.  The sales enablement team needs to drive it home for a successful launch.  So why does the sales team care?  A lack of participation in the PLM during this phase will impact market penetration.  Depending on the product and market, this delay is usually around 60 days to six months.  In extreme situations, this can be years depending on buying and renewal cycles.

 

Post-Launch Activities Provide Sustainable Success

 

This is the obvious, and not so obvious phase sales and marketing cares about the PLM.  It is obvious because sales campaigns and marketing campaigns are in full force.  Assuming active participation took place during the pre-launch, it is time to reap the rewards.  Responses to marketing campaigns are being realized.  Revenue is being generated and the team is making the number.  Customer feedback is positive.  Further enhancements are requested and included in the backlog for the next round of product planning.  The cycle is complete…right?

 

Not so fast.  As products mature, you need to pull the trigger on sunsetting or migration plans.  Numerous factors go into these decisions, and many have nothing to do with sales and marketing.  So do these teams need to care at this stage?  Yes!  Without the proper input, these teams are left focusing on “dead” or irrelevant products.  Dead because you will sunset them.  To learn more about sunset analysis, click here.  Irrelevant, because as an example, they are moving from on premise to SaaS.  These teams need to be aware and involved in these phases throughout the PLM.

 

So, your products can survive with sales and marketing not caring throughout the PLM.  However, it is not advisable.  It has the potential to impact credibility in the market through poor market feedback.  The product launch impact can be delayed, or in worst case scenario, ineffectiveness.  And resources can be mis-allocated due to not being informed.

 

Download the Product Planning Tool to review a one page product planning business canvas, evaluate the products you need to solve, and figure out the best method to solve them, and evaluate your cost structures and revenue streams.

 

 

Additional Resources

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stuart Gill

Combines his expertise at increasing product revenue with a proactive approach to talent acquisition and development.

Stuart brings extensive experience to various product management and project management roles with an emphasis on the software industry. He helped grow top line revenue to a variety of software products that were either built from the ground up or were acquired and grew to be market leaders in the US and then introduced to the European and Asia Pacific markets. He has also worked in various sales enablement positions, implementing different methodologies for onboarding and talent development.

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