The tension between sales, marketing, and product is a normal one. All teams and their members are constantly pushing their own agendas. How can earlier engagement, strong communication, and collaboration improve your product launch success? Executive Product and Marketing Leader Seema Pandya will share key cross-functional milestones of collaboration pre-launch and during launch.

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On Collaboration With Sales and Marketing During the Ideation and Concept Phase

The collaboration starts from the beginning with the ideation phase. Here, product leads can get an idea of what the sales team is selling, what customers are asking for, and what the marketers are promoting. It provides a strong starting point for the process.

“As we think about that ideation phase, we’re all coming up with that evergreen list of ideas. This is really where the sales team has the finger on the pulse of what the markets are asking for. The marketing team actually has the information on what the market doesn’t know what it needs. Engaging with your sales and marketing team for the ideation phase is a really critical part of that very initial top of the funnel process.

The other piece that we own — and often we don’t think about this as we let sales own this — but we should really own knowing the analysis of existing sales in the past six months, 3 months, 12 months, however long your sales cycles are. We as product leaders should know what is getting sold, what the average deal size is, and what the current customers are asking for. In doing this analysis, we should also be getting a sense of trends … This is really going to give us a lot of great information.

The third piece is scanning that competitive landscape. This is a piece that typically your product marketing or marketing teams are already doing in terms of competitive scanning value prop product features Have your competitors. So even though you’re in that ideation phase, start beginning to scan that competitive landscape.

Things like unmet need, value proposition and the target and buyer influencers, a lot of that content comes in partnership with the sales team.”

On The Quick and Easy Market Feedback Methods

After ideation and concept, the next natural progression is product build. This is still a great time to utilize that collaboration with the sales and marketing teams by adding in-market feedback. It can seem like a daunting and expensive task, but here Seema gives quick and easy tips to include this necessary tool.

“When we’re in the product side, we often talk about agile methodology. It’s not just in the build, but we also want to make sure we’re agile and nimble and continue market feedback and response. Having worked at startups, as well as Fortune 500, huge, multi-international companies, I can tell you that you don’t always have the budget to get that continued market feedback. If you’re in a situation where you don’t have a big market research budget to start testing some of these things, there’s a lot of ways to do them quickly and easily. 

For one, especially by the time you get to build, you should have a clickable demo to start testing in the market. Just because you’re moving towards the build phase doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be still continually seeing the market, seeing what that needs, and getting feedback. 

Another key piece that I’ve done a lot of very early on and very inexpensively is started testing your positioning and key messages in a really inexpensive quick test way using social media or dummy landing pages. This is really important because while you’re building, you may have some draft positioning and messaging that you’ve thought about during your product assessment process. Starting to get out to the market to start testing some of these things will really help you when you get to the launch phase. 

Another key thing that you will gather from this is if you offer calls-to-actions to bring in some early adopters, you’re now able to bring some of those early adopters not only as testers during UAT, but don’t be afraid to start selling some service-based projects to gain some revenue stream until your product is built.”

On How the Collaboration Doesn’t Stop Once The Product Hits the Launch Stage

The job isn’t done for a product lead once the product is ready to launch! You already did the concept and all the research, so you are the perfect team to refine the message for the sales and marketing teams. You know the product best, so use this knowledge to your advantage to continue collaboration for the best results.

“It’s our product’s lead job to sell. We should be selling, we should be the ones getting leads to closed sales for the first few sales. The importance of this is all those things that you made those assumptions on or researched in that concept phase during your product assessment. This is your point to test it and test it in the market. So you should not be handing off to sales unless you’ve had a chance to test your messaging and pitches and even close some sales so that you can validate, ‘Do I have the right target? Do I have the right messaging? Am I ready to go?’ If you hand this off to a sales team before you even have a chance to test it out and even close a couple of sales yourselves, it’s very hard to get the buy-in from the sales team to go out and sell your product.

As we think about handing it off to our marketing team or a product marketing team, you might say, ‘Why am I doing all this? I’m the product person. This is what my marketing team is supposed to do.’ And in most cases, it is absolutely true, but at the end of the day, if you’re the product lead, you conducted the market assessment, you know the market well enough, and you know your competitive landscape. The more you give the positioning statement and the key message platform to your marketing team, the stronger their campaign will be, and the stronger they will be equipped to support you, including even content.”

About the speaker
Seema Pandya Executive Product and Marketing Leader Member

Seema Pandya is an executive marketing and product leader with in-depth experience in the healthcare market. Seema has achieved a successful track record of product launches including the development of world-wide marketing campaigns through her sophisticated brand development process, her ability to convert complex data to tangible, executable plans, and her collaborative approach to mobilize cross functional teams. Seema leverages her holistic, customer-centric perspective and keen analytic skills to guide her marketing strategies and tactics. Ms. Pandya is a graduate of MIT Sloan School of Management, where she was the recipient of the Forte Scholarship & Monrad Fellowship.