In the past month or so, I've spent many hours checking emails and meeting notes in PipelineDeals, our Customer Relationship Management software. As far as product development is concerned CRM acronym could as well stand for Capturing Response from the Market, since a well-kept CRM is a treasure-trove of information for product development. CRM's primary goal is to record customer-related information from sales people's heads into permanent storage for other people to reference and to keep tabs on sales process. Product development has very similar requirements with regards to the CRM. We want to hear customer feedback and we want to see how product performs at various stages of the pipeline.
But a sales team can produce hundreds of emails and meeting notes per day. Checking all this information would consume all the time of product managers, therefore some adaptation of the CRM to the needs of product managers is required. For example, at Zemanta we are trying to develop a habit that sales people notify product people about particularly interesting deals or user feedback so that the product people don't need to check all the deals. And we are trying to formulate product hypothesis in such a way that they can be verified using the same pipeline as used by sales so that additional bookkeeping isn't required. But the most important change that we are trying to institute is to have product managers feel responsible not just for product development but for overall product success (which includes successful sales, of course).