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Selling Vs. Learning – Rich Mironov – Medium

link to original storyMar 18, 2017
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I talk with product managers all the time, and always ask whether they are talking directly with end users and target customers. The most frequent response from enterprise product managers is “Of course! I’m on sales calls two or three times a week.” That’s great, and helps push the current-quarter revenue needle, but is IMHO a terrible way to learn about general customer needs and broader market trends.

When an enterprise sales teams pulls a product manager into a customer meeting, it’s to address a very narrow issue on a specific deal. We’re brought in to remove blockers, suggest workarounds, or explain roadmaps. To help close. We’re not there to explore new use cases; or ask open-ended questions about future requirements; or have prospects compare us objectively to a long list of competitors; or build user journey maps; or solicit opinions about radical pricing changes. Sales teams shun product managers who slow down the selling process.

And (at least at enterprise companies), these meetings are not representative of our overall customer base. They tend to be the largest customers/prospects with the most complex use cases and most sophisticated requirements. If all we see are what our major account teams bring us when the standard solution doesn’t work, we get a deeply biased impression. We hear more about “security audits of multi-tier account permissioning” and less about “effortless end user onboarding.” That leads us to mis-prioritize the needs of the (big) few over the many mid-tier users and broader growth markets. Pushing us toward ever-more-custom solutions for ever-more-specialized fewer large buyers. (And custom development is an entirely different business than productized software.)


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