A Collaborative Endeavour of Sales and Product Teams

Exploring the synergy between sales and product teams - how to work better together, to best serve customers

Rory Sadler
September 18, 2023
February 24, 2024
Exploring the synergy between sales and product teams - how to work better together, to best serve customers
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In the ever-competitive business landscape, the symbiotic relationship between sales and product management teams is integral to a company's success.

More often than not, the product's evolution is shaped by the insights gathered from sales conversations. After all, who else better understands the product's strengths, weaknesses, and market position than the sales team who deals with customers daily?

Embracing this alliance can truly revolutionize product development. But the road to effective collaboration isn't always smooth. Let's explore why this partnership is essential, the challenges it faces, and how to overcome them.

The Dynamics of Sales and Product Management

The heart of any business is its product, and the lifeblood that keeps it pumping is sales. Both product management and sales teams play pivotal roles in a company's growth and success. However, these two teams often find themselves on different wavelengths.

Product management is all about building a great product, while sales focus on selling the product in the market. Their objectives may seem contrasting, but when aligned, these two teams can become a formidable force that drives a company to new heights.

Why a Collaborative Approach Matters

Sales and product management teams can be likened to two sides of the same coin. While product managers are proficient in understanding the product's features and functionalities, sales teams have a profound knowledge of the customers' language, emotions, and decision-making process.

Here's why this collaboration is crucial:

  1. Market Insight: Sales teams interact with numerous customers daily, giving them a wealth of data regarding who buys the product and who doesn't.
  2. Competitive Analysis: They possess a deep understanding of how the product compares to the competition and a strategic viewpoint of the industry.
  3. Negotiation Skills: Observing how the sales team operates can help product managers improve their prioritization skills.

By leveraging these insights, product managers can build more engaging products right from the start and enhance the most relevant features as the product evolves.

Bridging the Gap: Challenges and Solutions

While the benefits of collaboration are evident, the path to achieving it is often fraught with challenges.

Challenge 1: Diverging Objectives

Sales teams are primarily focused on closing deals, while product teams are more concerned with the user experience. This divergence in objectives often leads to friction. For instance, a feature requested by a potential customer might not align with the product's overall vision or strategy.

Solution 1: Foster a Customer-Centric Culture

To mitigate this issue, both teams should align their objectives around a common goal: customer satisfaction. By doing so, the product and sales teams can work in tandem to deliver a product that not only meets the customer's needs but also provides an excellent user experience.

Challenge 2: Communication Barriers

Sales teams are usually the first to hear valuable feedback and feature requests from customers. However, they might find it difficult to articulate these insights effectively to the product team, leading to a communication gap.

Solution 2: Harness the Voice of the Customer

To bridge this gap, product teams should have direct access to customer feedback. By listening to the "voice of the customer," they can gain valuable insights and understand the customer's needs better. This can be achieved by periodically sitting in on sales calls or using tools that capture and share customer feedback directly from sales calls.

Implementing Collaboration: Practical Strategies

Now that we've identified the challenges and solutions let's delve into some practical strategies that can enhance the collaboration between sales and product management teams.

Strategy 1: Sit in on Sales Calls

Product managers can gain a wealth of insights by occasionally joining sales calls. This practice allows them to hear the users' voice firsthand and understand their perception of the product.

Sharing space with the sales team and observing their interactions with customers can also foster a better understanding and collaborative environment, especially in the early stages of product development.

Strategy 2: Analyze Sales Data

Salespeople have an abundance of data about prospects and users. Analyzing this data can provide valuable insights into which parts of the product resonate with users and which parts don't.

Consider implementing easy-to-follow processes that give you a more organized view of broad trends. For instance, you could ask salespeople to fill out a simple form every time they close a deal, providing more information about the customer's needs and feedback.

Strategy 3: Leverage Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is a goldmine of insights. Companies like Zapier, SupplyCompass, and Parabol have successfully used customer feedback to inform and validate their product roadmaps.

By capturing and sharing the voice of the customer, these companies have not only improved their product offerings but also strengthened their relationship with the sales team.

Final Thoughts: Collaborate to Innovate

Without a doubt, the alliance between sales and product management teams can lead to a better product. But to make this collaboration effective, both teams need to align their objectives around customer satisfaction and leverage the power of customer feedback.

By adopting a customer-centric approach and implementing effective communication strategies, companies can break down the silos between sales and product management, fostering a collaborative environment that drives innovation and business growth.

Remember, in the world of business, it's not just about building a product or making a sale; it's about creating a product that customers love. And that can only be achieved when both sales and product teams work hand in hand.