The Missing Piece of Sales-Marketing Alignment
We’ve talked before about the importance of Sales-Marketing alignment for success in the B2B sphere. But, when it comes to technology companies that are seeking to solve market problems in remarkable ways, there is a third element that you must integrate in order to meet customer expectations: Product Development.
With buyers making their way further down the sales funnel on their own than ever before, the standard handoff between marketing and sales goes like this: marketing provides the appropriate content to build awareness and educate the buyer and sales is ready when that buyer reaches out.
This joint effort is a key part of attracting qualified buyers whose problem is addressed by your solution — but it doesn’t show the full picture. In order to best tailor your offering to the buyers and their needs, alignment needs to start even earlier in the process.
In an ideal scenario, it would work like this: Customers need a solution. Product Development assesses their needs and builds a product to meet them. Marketing communicates the solution’s value to buyers. Finally, Sales closes the deal.
So why is this kind of Sales-Marketing-Product Development alignment so rare?
A compelling answer can be found in this article on the hallmarks of effective companies, which says that the separate functions of sales, marketing, and product development “are like fiefdoms, isolated from changes in the marketplace, from their own company’s strategic priorities, even from each other.” If Product Development is isolated from Sales and Marketing, it hinders the effectiveness of all three.
A basic tenet of the Pragmatic Marketing Framework is that, above all, you must have an offering that solves a real market problem. This means that the lynchpin of your success doesn’t rest on your marketing or even your sales — it rests on the fundamental process of identifying and solving customer pain points. In other words, success starts with Product Development.
Product Development’s role in the Sales-Marketing partnership is to understand the market and facilitate development of offerings that solve the market’s problems. Since your Product Development team is uniquely poised to understand how features map to solving the business problem for your customers, it brings something to the table that sales and marketing need: namely, “the ability to design crystal-clear requirements for product and service offerings geared precisely for target customers.”
Strategic and integrated Product Development has the ability to power marketing efforts and drive sales results for your company. To play its part in empowering Sales and Marketing, Product Development needs to be involved in key activities that influence the overall success of the product — this includes marketing activities like strategy, content, and lead acquisition; as well as sales functions such as delivering on revenue targets, analyzing relevant data, and listening to customer feedback.
The role of your Product Development team is to uncover the outcomes that customers need, establish customer pain points, then create a solution that achieves that outcome in best possible way. Successful companies recognize that fostering collaboration between all three of these functions — Product Development, Marketing and Sales — is key to maximizing effectiveness and profitability.