article | December 1, 2017
Why Won’t This Product Sell Itself?
Your product team is creating great products that should dominate the market. But marketing doesn’t position it right and sales doesn’t sell it.
Why do sales and marketing continue to fail to sell your product? This is the right question, but it is often directed at the wrong team. You look at failed marketing campaigns and want to blame the marketing team. The content was poor. They don’t know the buyer.
But why stop there? Sales isn’t doing its job either. The pipeline is inadequate. When they get in front of qualified prospects, they don’t close. Neither the marketing or sales teams know how to talk about the product and its features.
And therein lies the problem. Why do those teams continue to fail? Why won’t this product sell itself?
The product strategy is not aligned with the marketing and sales strategies. Without this interlock, product, marketing, and sales teams are working in silos. This results in assumptions being made that everyone knows the same things about a product. To see how your teams interlock, take a few minutes to leverage the tool. You need to ask yourself these three questions:
As product managers, we often fall into the trap of speaking the language of features and functionality. We talk to users and intimately understand what they need so we know what to build. However, feature lists leave prospects (aka buyers) thinking “how is that different from the other guy?” Features and functionality don’t translate to value and ROI to those making purchasing decisions. Enter the magic of the marketing team. Product managers will always default to speaking in a feature-based language. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s critical to a product’s success. The mistake is not conveying to the marketing team the research behind why a product is built. The marketing team is the interpreter to translate features and functionality into value. This transition from a “cool product” into “this is why you love it” is essential. Explaining the value and competitive differentiation to a buyer is the difference between average and great.
Now I’m about to make a statement that will make you uncomfortable. Believe me, it took me a long time to accept this myself. Well before a product launch, sales must be involved in multiple capacities. The compensation plan needs to reflect the importance of the product in the corporate strategy. Quotas need to be aggressive, but realistic for a new product launch. The sales team needs to know what persona they are selling to with buyer segmentation insights. And like marketing, sales needs to be intimately knowledgeable about competition and the value proposition. The interlock between the product, sales, and marketing teams is what makes a product move. Product and marketing teams need to ensure sales is fully enabled on day one.
Enter the customer success team. They are often thought of as support or a means to close the feedback loop. While this can be true, customer success teams can serve a variety of roles depending on the organization and product. Regardless of industry, the initial need is enablement. Product and marketing teams need to provide product enablement and the appropriate tools to be successful. Their value extends beyond the need to provide product feedback as the voice of the customer. Customer success often owns the cross/up sell function within the organization. Like sales, having the right product information and tools is critical. Providing the environment for this team to be successful begins with the product team.
“This product should be able to sell itself.” Unfortunately, it is not quite that easy. But you can ask “did I do what is needed to make this product successful?” This is a much more productive and satisfying question.
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