One of the many key roles of a Product Manager is that of a ‘Sales enabler’. This means, helping sales to improvise on conversion ratio, conversion of a prospect to a paying customer. While there is nothing much that a product manager can teach sales about sales, however they can play a crucial role in influencing customer and by helping them in build trust and confidence in product sold to them.
Think of a product manager as a walking & talking “Sales-Solution-Guide”, may be something like a breathing wikipedia of the product. Sales should be able to take them to all potential large customers or even to an existing key customer. Here product managers takes on greater responsibility of market success and such a shift typically happens largely in introduction and growth phase of the product wherein quick conversion is imperative to the success of the organization.
Here are few value adds that a product owner should focus on while working with sales or running a product demo with customer; remember it is product managers responsibility to be valued and not to be seen as liability:
- Know your product, functions and technicalities. Have a very good command of your product features and intricacies of user experience. It would not leave a good impression on customer if you repeat this too often ‘I shall get back to you on this’.
- Highlight customer benefits against each feature demonstrated, ensure you speak more of customer interest, few examples: how a particular feature impacts staff productivity or data security. May be even on reliability of data.
- Aspects that can be translated to monetary benefit like increase in top line or bottom line should be explained thoroughly. Question audience if they have any doubts over monitory benefits of the product. Typical example: lower cost of ownership for customer (in terms of hardware requirements and maintenance).
- Study competition well, as much as you can. Be prepared (or be honest) to answer questions on competition strengths and values that you are still trying to match.
- Customers often ask for more, more than what is offered or even required. Know well what level of customization is doable and in what time duration. It gives immense pleasure to customer when they convince a vendor for customization so please do not rob them off this pleasure, be prepared for taking some extra work for engineering.
- One of the most common question that I have faced is “how frequently do you upgrade your product and at what cost would we get it”. While on most occasions you will be able to pass on the question related to cost but ‘frequency of software upgrade’ is domain of product manager. You are expected to answer this but be sure that you neither exaggerate nor should you play too safe by being conservative.
- Towards the end, buy some time from customer to present technology road-map. Show customer the benefits of going with you, show them what they will miss if they go for alternate product or solution. This matters a lot to the customer and they expect you to present this to them.
I have always enjoyed the responsibility of ‘sales enabler’. I see this as an opportunity to meet and talk to customers whom I represent day-in and day-out in my organization. Perhaps I must say that, it is these opportunities that keeps me up-to-date with customer priorities and market demand, in-turn makes me more effective in my role as a product manager.