Use a Product Roadmap to Avoid “Next Version” Sales Paralysis
Have you ever experienced “next version” sales paralysis? It’s the situation where your sales team holds back on trying to convert new leads or close sales already in the pipeline because the team knows that a new version of your software is close to release. It’s frustrating, but using a product roadmap can help you break the paralysis.
Do You Publish a Product Roadmap?
Every product manager has an idea of where product development is going. If you’re just transitioning from the start-up business stage, you may be just starting to formalize a product roadmap. If you are in a mature business, you probably have several iterations of your product roadmap. Regardless of where your company is in terms of longevity, you’ll find a roadmap is an invaluable tool for every product manager.
The real question is deciding how you will share your roadmap. Some companies keep the roadmap tucked away in product development. On the other end of the spectrum are companies that share the product roadmap internally and externally. In fact, there are companies who have found great benefit from sharing their roadmap with customers. One of the benefits of wider distribution is the alignment of sales and product development.
The Importance of Aligning Sales and Product Development
Without sales and product development alignment, your sales team may be selling your product to the wrong customer. In addition, your sales team can start to believe that if they just had that one critical feature to offer, it would be easy to close business. And, if that one critical feature is part of the next version of your software, your sales team will be tempted to put the brakes on their sales effort until that feature is available.
When your marketing, sales and product development teams work together, you can present a united front to the customer. Your sales team will understand where the product is now, and how it will evolve. You’ll empower your sales team to use the product roadmap as a sales tool, which will move them away from aggressive ultimatums on product features.
Support Sales in Using the Product Roadmap as a Sales Tool
The pace of software development has increased over time. Virtually everyone has had the experience of investing in the latest technology, only to find that it is obsolete shortly after they’ve learned how to use it. The lesson to be learned is that technology, including software, is never static. There’s always the next best thing. Your sales team and your customers need to recognize that waiting for the perfect solution isn’t a sound strategy.
When your sales team supports the product development roadmap, they can explain it to customers. If the customer absolutely needs a feature that’s not even hinted at in the roadmap, the sales team must recognize that they’re selling to the wrong customer.
If the customer is excited about a feature coming in a new release, the sales team can explain the advantages of getting the product implemented, and moving through the learning curve before new features are introduced. Very often, new features build on the “old” infrastructure, meaning that the customer isn’t losing any ground starting with the current version.
With a product roadmap, and a firm belief in the path your product will follow, your sales team will have the ammunition they need to do the best possible job of selling your current product.
Do you worry about alignment in your company? Or, do you have other strategic issues on your mind? If so, give us a call at 888-502-5302, send an email, or learn more about how the experts at Point Above can work with you to achieve your personal and business goals.