As a sales rep selling a SaaS product I have noticed myself picking up on trends in the market. I have noticed that I am the eyes to what the market wants and needs in our product. There are plenty of ways for companies to easily track what features, tools, etc need updating or creating by using support tickets but there is no good way for product and sales to work well together that I know of. (If you know of one and are a sales rep or someone working on a product team somewhere please comment on what you use).
There should be some kind of software that sales reps can use to record information on when and why they are seeing certain trends in the sales process that product managers can review. Your sales reps are the eyes and ears of winning net new business and their experiences should be recorded to impact the future of your product. I realize that support and account managers are typically good at getting data in a system on needs of customers. But, this doesn't solve for the needs of net new customers that sales reps are seeing in the sales process. When a company only focuses on the current customer needs you create a product roadmap that tends to satisfy the current customer base but might not necessarily support net new sales and trends sales reps are seeing. Don't get me wrong I think that the happiness of current customers is the utmost important thing. But, it seems like there should be a better way to track trends in the market for product to respond to.
There should be a tool or a software that allows sales reps to directly report to the product managers at a software company. Maybe tracking things like:
- Why and when a deal was lost.
- What types of things prospects are asking for in the sales process that you know your product cannot do.
- What tools you see needing certain things added and why that company needed or wanted that tool.
- If a sales rep is noticing things in the competition there should be ways to document this so product can pick up on how often the sales team is seeing these things.
The hard part about a company wanting to have this kind of relationship between product and sales is the typical sales woes. This kind of relationship between sales and product would take work! YES WORK! Typical sales reps don't have the time or energy to document things like this. Most sales reps don't like even recording their work in their CRM, so why would they want to do this kind of "extra work"? I would assume that managers don't put enough emphasis on this because they want their sales reps to do their job and not add anything to their plate. I get that...
I can tell you why I think sales working with product is important and why I think other software sales reps should think it is important as well.
To be a good sales rep you need to have a good product that helps your ideal customer do what they need to do. You have to sell the product to do your job well. If there are things that you as a sales rep are noticing time after time and know that it would help to have that in the product to sell better, you should be working with product to make that case clear. You should be telling product this somehow. It is one thing to have conversations with PMs on things like this. That is helpful for PMs to hear your thoughts and what you are noticing but that does not provide data. Data is the how and why of how engineers work. So the PMs are likely looking at incoming data (things like support tickets) to make decisions on product roadmap.
Companies make decisions by using data. There has to be some tool out there that helps product and sales work better together.
Does this exist? If it doesn't well I have work to do. :)