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Creating healthy relationship between Sales and Product

Post by
Mark Smith
Creating healthy relationship between Sales and Product

For success to be realized in its full capacity, every facet of a company must be working harmoniously. Having a clear line of communication from sales to marketing - all the way down to those responsible for creating the product itself - is vital towards achieving your KPIs and business goals.

If just one department becomes out of sync, then this will create a ripple effect, potentially having a detrimental impact on your company’s overall business strategy. Take sales and product management, for example, they both need each other to work but can often find themselves butting heads. The problems that arise from sales and product teams come from a conflict of interest and lack of communication and clarity surrounding the product in question.

The sad thing is that these can be easily avoided. Below are some common misunderstandings that can occur between the two. After which, we’ll delve deeper into how to deal with conflict at work and maintain a healthy relationship between sales and product management teams. We’ll be looking into mistakes caused by both departments.

Roles and responsibilities

Product Management involves assessing what products and features are worth creating or optimizing in a set amount of time. They deal with customers too but on a less personal level than sales, instead they accumulate customer feedback and analyze the market to see what is needed. They have to take into consideration production costs and the resources available to them, seeing whether a product is even viable or practical. They essentially define the mission statement in line with the business strategy.

Salespeople are naturally more hands-on with their clients. Their job is to hit their quotas and maximize company profits, via networking, promotional events and working directly with prospects. They are invaluable to the company and know the ins and outs of the product and feature in question, answering any questions that the client may have.

With this in mind, one can see how intrinsically important it is for both departments to operate on the same wavelength.

Causes for tension...

Misaligned goals

A major source of friction is when sales teams try to sell products and features that are not on a roadmap. They may get a request from a customer, and in their attempt to satisfy them and close a deal, they’ll push forward without consulting the product team first. 

As a result, product teams may find themselves inundated with requests that are impractical or impossible to achieve, forcing the sales department to go back to their prospect to tell them that what they had promised them is not viable.

This leads to misaligned goals and ends up being a lose-lose situation all around. If the product team complies with the request to make this one customer happy, it will distract them from the set target which can result in missed deadlines. On the other hand, if they fail to deliver the request, it will create tension with sales and the potential loss of a prospect.

Not being properly briefed about products and updates

Whereas the first scenario can be seen as salespeople being overly eager to make a sale, this next problem is on product teams. If a sales team is not properly introduced to a product, then how can you expect them to make a sale?

Salespeople pride themselves on knowing the ins and outs of a product and being able to answer any queries or concerns that the customer may have. However, if they are not involved in the early stages of production and are not briefed upon the possibilities and limitations on how far the product can go, then this is precisely what can lead to unrealistic demands as we saw in the first scenario.

If a product team is unable to translate the mission statement effectively, then there will undoubtedly be a breakdown of communication with salespeople having to work on vague outlines. Worse still if there is a product that has been amended without the sales team being informed.

In this respect, product teams may see salespeople as a loose cannon, a coin-orientated cowboy. On the other hand, sales may see product teams as inflexible or to set in their ways or even unreliable if new requests get turned down time and time again. None of these terms are helpful or conducive towards building a healthy relationship so let’s move away from these generalizations and move on to building a strong partnership.

Share ideas and work together towards the same goals


Centralized reference point - A roadmap!

Give your sales department direct access to the product roadmap and let them get involved early on in the production process. Utilizing Prodeology’s prioritization methods, you can create a live URL of your perfect roadmap that can be shared with anyone in the company.

There are several advantages to this. For one thing, they will have a far better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of said product. It will also be a lot easier for them to keep track of any upcoming features and thus they will be better equipped on what they can and cannot promise their prospective clients.

Say for example a big prospect wants a certain feature that isn’t available yet but will be soon, rather than making false promises or more unwarranted feature requests - with the product roadmap at hand - the sales team will be able to direct the conversation towards how they can help the prospect with this in the near future. They can then relay the information back to the product teams, perhaps mentioning that the future feature in question is in high demand. This will give great insight to product teams on how and what to prioritize next.

Furthermore, having a centralized point of reference such as a roadmap means product teams will no longer have to deal with rogue requests, with sales teams being able to contribute by instead submitting requests for a specific feature via the roadmap. The feedback from sales can help to solidify your OKRs and prioritization methods.

Be open to suggestions/feedback

Just as sales teams can learn a lot about the process of product development, product teams can also learn a lot about the market and customer needs by listening to what salespeople have to say. As stated earlier, people in sales deal directly with customers on a daily basis. This gives them a unique and personal insight into the current state of the market and where the company needs to prioritize its efforts.

Furthermore, there should be a centralized line of online communication or perhaps via conference meetings where salespeople can give their input on the suggested roadmap before it is even implemented.

Product managers need to get more involved

One might be forgiven for thinking that once the product team has handed over their creation to sales, then that’s their job done. But this is where product managers get it wrong. It should be more of an ongoing line of continuous feedback and communication.

Good product managers will at times need to get involved in finalizing the sales process, particularly when it comes to tricky deals with big prospects. Not only does it show good relations with the sales department, but you being there can also put the prospect more at ease as you’ll be able to direct the discourse on how to fix any problems they might encounter. With you and sales working together on the call or meeting, it shows the client that you care about their concerns. 

Furthermore, Prodeology’s custom made user-friendly public roadmap will automatically create a more basic and visual public roadmap to be shared with your prospects. This adds yet another layer of transparency to your business and shows that you care about the client and their input.

To make use of these fantastic services and more, sign up with Prodeology’s free-forever account and start building your perfect roadmap today.

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