Tech companies are being squeezed dry as the economy trends downward, which likely means they’ll need to bring in more customers with fewer resources.
In my opinion, this “stop; breathe” moment is an opportunity for companies to finally see what was wrong with their sales process.
Getting new customers should not be a company’s only concern. Founders should also ask themselves: Are we retaining our clients a year in? Are my sales reps happy? Is my marketing team reaching the right people? Are too many leads coming my way?
These questions can all be condensed into a single question: Is my sales process working for customers, or is it working to reach lifeless metrics?
Unfortunately, as sales has evolved over the past 10 years, it has left customers and their needs behind. For example, if a sales team needs more leads, it might choose to spam a large segment of people rather than hypertarget those who will find value by being reached. That won’t fly in the current climate as clients increasingly demand that companies respect their specific needs and offer seamless buying experiences.
Getting back to that consumer means understanding data on them, experimenting with solutions and iterating. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what product teams do to refine their offerings.
Understanding the user means understanding your data and converting it into delightful solutions — that’s the crux of the PM role.
I spent years working as a product manager at Google, after which I dove headfirst into creating SaaS for businesses. I found the same skills that had served me in product development — essentially, solving problems for consumers — were exactly what I needed to be a great salesman.
B2B companies need to go back to the data (but not just any data), generate knowledge and insights on the customer, and tweak both product and strategy along the way. That process isn’t in the wheelhouse of a sales manager, nor a marketer, developer or designer.
However, that guiding principle of customer-led optimization is the bread and butter of a product manager. Here’s why a successful revenue process requires thinking like a PM.
Solve problems for the customer, not the sales reps
If your sales numbers aren’t as high as you want them to be, what’s your first response? Is it: “How can my sales reps rack up more leads?” Or is it: “What sales strategies reach the most people?” If you’re reflecting along those lines, you’re problem-solving for the sales rep, not for the customer. That’s where you’re getting it wrong.