The Product Leader’s Cheat Sheet for Alignment: The Sales (AE) Team Edition

The Product Leader’s Cheat Sheet for Alignment: The Sales (AE) Team Edition

If you’ve ever struggled to set expectations with your cross-functional stakeholders, you’re not alone. In fact, this was the top challenge faced by product leaders according to the most recent Product Excellence Report.

Stakeholder communication and expectation setting requires finesse and adaptation because each set of stakeholders has their own interests and priorities. If you really want to excel at stakeholder management, this means you need to develop a deep understanding of each group and how you can best meet their needs.

You might agree with all of this but still feel a bit stumped when it comes to learning how to navigate these complex relationships. After all, you’re a busy product leader and this is just another item on your never-ending to-do list. But neglecting your stakeholders today can lead to much more trouble down the road.

That’s why we’ve put together a series of cheat sheets to help you achieve alignment with each group of stakeholders. In this edition, we’ll explore how you can best work with your sales team, especially the account executives (AEs) who close deals with prospective customers.

“Sales may be the team that gets deals over the line, but there wouldn’t be a product or service worth paying for without the product team. Likewise, it’s the product team’s job to bring ideas to life, but without the valuable insight and requests that the sales team provides, they might not build a product that customers need. Really, we should take a more holistic view and recognize everyone for their input at all stages of the process.”  Conor Dragomanovich, former VP of Commercial Sales, Productboard

3 tips for partnering with sales (AEs)

Working closely with AEs allows product teams to gain valuable insights into customers’ evolving needs and tailor their product development efforts accordingly. This collaboration can help to identify the most pressing customer pain points and the features that will be most valuable to address them. It can also prevent you from developing features that may seem attractive on paper but do not have any real-world use cases, which saves development resources and avoids wasted effort.

Here are three tactics to try.

1. Provide roadmap visibility to ensure that sales teams are not making commitments to customers that the product team cannot deliver on. Providing access to the roadmap also helps everyone work towards the same goals to drive revenue growth and customer satisfaction.

Only 31% of survey respondents said roadmaps can be easily shared and accessed by cross-functional partners. – Product Excellence Report

2. Close the feedback loop by highlighting the completion of customer-requested product changes and improvements with the sales team — an essential step in building a successful product and a loyal customer base. This enables teams to demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and helps to build trust with customers.

54% of respondents note that they don’t have an effective system in place for providing customers with status updates about product requests they’ve made in the past. – Product Excellence Report

3. Use what you learn from the sales team to facilitate effective go-to-market strategies. Ask your sales team about customer buying behaviors, preferences, and pain points, which can be used to develop targeted marketing and sales strategies. This can help increase customer engagement and ultimately drive revenue growth.

“An effective relationship with sales lets everyone do a better job: sales is equipped with the tools, support, and information that make it easier to close a deal, while product management gets real-world feedback from and exposure to high-level prospects.”UserVoice

And remember, partnering with sales is a win-win. When AEs work closely with the product team, they enhance their knowledge of the products they’re selling, refine their sales strategy, boost customer satisfaction, and drive revenue growth by closing larger deals faster. 

Never fear your next encounter with a stakeholder again. Download the cheat sheet to help you handle every interaction with your AEs with confidence, or our guide on uniting the business for tips on how to work with other stakeholders. You can also check out the below video for tips on how product can build stronger cross-departmental relationships.

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