Who is your (internal) customer?

It takes more than releasing a product to make it successful — everyone must be involved in selling it.

When talking with people about their goto market strategy, the discussion always turns to the customer. Who is the customer, what personas are we targeting, what channels are best to leverage, what collateral do we need, etc?

What this conversation often assumes is that once the engineering and product teams are ready to “launch” the product — the rest of the organization takes over. Sales and Marketing are passed the baton and run with it.

But I encourage teams to adopt a slight mental trick to up their game. Don’t just look at it as handing off from the product team to the marketing or sales team.

Rather, look at it as selling your product to that other team.

Who is the customer of engineering? Who is the customer of product management? Who needs to know how awesome the new product is first? More precisely — who will be talking to the actual paying customer? Sales and marketing.

Product teams must be able to sell the new release to the sales and marketing teams.

I’ve seen it too often where a product is launched, the product team writes a blog post and then they go back to the next set of deliverables. The expectation is that they’ve done everything they can from their side and it’s up to the sales and marketing teams to carry it further.

That might work in some organizations but the best performing ones take a whole-of-company approach to selling. For example, if product teams can’t convince their own peers how awesome the new release is, then how will sales leaders make a confident pitch? If technical demonstrations and benchmarks aren’t available — then how can marketing make some constructive noise against the competition?

There are many areas where the product side of the company can dramatically boost the performance of the sales side. You just need to look for them.

While product management teams usually rely on product marketing as a bridge to marketing, they can’t do it alone — there is so much more that can be done when everyone brings has this shared mindset.

For example, if engineering sees the sales and marketing teams as their customer — they will develop the rationale for the new release early on. When product management writes their next release requirements, they should be ready to share what themes and outcomes will be delivered and build that messaging early, giving the marketing team plenty of time to get up to speed. Those are just a couple of examples to reframe some of the thinking around product launches.

Overall, it’s tempting for product managers to dive into the real customer and help sell directly, but that is simply not scalable (or at least I hope your funnel is too full for that approach).

Instead, product managers should stay focused on delivering products while constantly pitching to the sales and marketing side of the business so they can carry that message forward with confidence.

I hope you find that tip useful as my focus is making these handoffs between teams as seamless as possible. If you’re interested in some planning resources to help support this idea in your organization, leave me a comment.

I have some material in the works and will be sure to share it with you through my page for 1MITCHELL MANAGEMENT.

Graphics courtesy slidesgo.com

Tech Advisor | Product/Marketing Coach | 1MITCHELL Mgt. | Former roles: PM @Couchbase @Actian, Exec/Founder @OSGeo, Publisher @LocatePress, Author @OReillyMedia