Listening to Sales Calls

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One of the less pleasant but more important things that a product manager/engineering lead must do is listening to as many sales calls as possible. Although brainstorming product ideas, conducting user interviews, managing engineers, and coding is important it is all in vain if the product does not sell. And while occasionally there are product and services that are so obvious and essential that customers are prepared to wait in line all night just to get their hands on them, that is an exception rather than a norm. In reality most of the products and services require extensive explanation, changes, and legwork in order to sell. An integral part of product development should therefore be also development of sales channels, sales pitches, and other sales related activities. While coming up with a repeatable sale process is primarily responsibility of sales management, product and engineering can be a great boon to the efforts of the sales. For example, product management can shift story of the product so that it is easier for salespeople to pitch and engineering can develop sales-specific product features that address concerns of customers (and which are usually never used by end users). If product managers and engineering leads are not listening to sales calls they will have hard time understanding sales people asking for features that don't make much sense for end users while making all the difference for sales.