Why product management needs sales engineering.
A VP wanted to improve the visibility and perception of product management with the salespeople, so he created a series of video introductions of his team. The videos included the product manager’s background, areas of expertise, and contact information. Once they were distributed, salespeople asked, “Can we share these with our clients?”
In a similar story, the VP of sales distributed the home and mobile phone numbers of all product managers to the sales channel (including international). Within a week, all of the product managers had gotten new, unlisted phone numbers.
In my early days as a product manager, I really enjoyed doing product training for the salespeople. I was good at presenting. And I wanted them to see the presentation and demo done correctly at least once. Yet all the salespeople said, “Man! That kid is good. I’m going to take him on all my sales calls.”
These scenarios—with all the best intentions—resulted in salespeople perceiving product management as the go-to resource for all things product.
Is that what you want your product managers to do?
How to fix it
The key is to listen to what your sales team is telling you. They need a go-to resource and they need tools they can share with their customers. When your sales team doesn’t have deep product expertise, you need to empower them with sales tools that do the heavy lifting. Here are some suggestions.