How Product Managers Can Manage A Complex Sale

by drjim on November 7, 2008

Product Managers Need To Be Involved In Making Complex Sales Happen

Product Managers Need To Be Involved In Making Complex Sales Happen

As a commenter to one of my posting on this blog reminded me the other day, we Product Managers are really the CEOs of our product. This means that our ultimate responsibility is to make the product a success.

Depending on your product and depending on your customer, you may occasionally find yourself in the middle of a complex sale. Hopefully you’ve got a great sales team working at your company; however, even the best sales team is going to have to reach out to the Product Manger to handle a complex sale. Let’s talk about what you are going to have to do to help “land the big one”…

I guess the first thing that we should all agree on is the simple fact that a complex sale is much different than a normal sale of your product. This type of sale is going to require extra preparation on your part, it will probably require a longer selling cycle, and will, of course, require more effort on your part to make it happen.

I’ve found that complex sales are pretty easy to identify. There is never just one decision maker, rather the product selection process is often spread across multiple departments and may require several levels of executive authority in order to get the deal approved. Nobody said that this was going to be easy!

Making a complex sale happen is really the responsibility of your sales team. However, as the CEO of your product, you care and you have a critical role to play. Here are the three things that a Product Manger needs to do in order to help make a complex sale happen:

 

    1. Understand What The Real Business Issues Are: Since you are the Product Manger, you should fully understand what business problems your product can solve. Using this knowledge  you need to learn what the customer’s current situation is and determine if there is a match. If there is, then you’re going to have to explain this to the sales team in words that they can then use when they are talking with the customer.

 

    1. Find Out Who ALL The Decision Makers Are: Every company is different and so this question will have a different answer every time. Your sales team may get too wrapped up and focus too much on their point of contact within the company. We all know that, especially for IT products, the ultimate decision maker may have had very little input to the product discussion; however, they are the go-to person that the buyer will double check with before making a decision. It is ultimately your responsibility to keep your eyes open and guide your sales team to talk with ALL of the decision makers.

 

  1. Determine What Criteria Will Be Used To Make A Product Selection: Is there a specific business result that the customer is hoping that your product will create? If you can figure out what criteria will be driving the customer’s decision making process, then that is where you can equip your sales teams to spend their time showing how your product is better than all of the competition.

 

Remember, one of the things that the customer is going to want you to really, really understand is just exactly what he is trying to accomplish. If you and your sales teams can do this then you’ll be able to win more complex sales than the other Product Mangers out there.

Would you say that most of your sales are complex or not complex sales? When they are complex sales, does your sales team come looking for help from you? Do you find that the customer has a whole collection of people on their side who will make the final product selection? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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