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A technical sales and distribution firm was strong in overall performance but certain product lines were not receiving the attention of the sales force that were required to meet the aggressive growth targets.
Process to Follow
- Analyze the performance of each member of the sales team for each product line
- Cross reference performance with the salesperson’s technical knowledge and the maturity of their customer base
- Conduct sales training sessions and customer training meetings with subject matter experts to improve:
- Technical and marketing skill of salesperson
- Technical knowledge of customer
- Provide customized training and feedback to key customers in key regions
Results to Expect
Following the start of these efforts, the sales force should be highly engaged in selling the product line(s) in question. Also the working relationship between the sales force and the subject matter experts can become a model for future successes in other situations.
The markets for individual products and even entire product lines can change much faster than the business entity they belong to. When this occurs, the difference in change rates can cause the product line to perform below its potential. This causes the business as a whole to suffer in terms of financial losses and of organizational disarray as multiple parties discuss how best to respond.
I am not advocating that the product management function of an organization attempt to change their company’s business model. Business-level changes have to be made high in the organization with all pertinent business functions consenting.
Successful product managers learn the market, products, and competition. Then they define, develop, and launch the best product for the applications. When these market-driven product requirements (the product strategy or “the what”) conflict with the businesses tactics (how things are done), the product manager is the one who will see it first and whose business will be most affected.
Product management should initiate business-wide discussions to resolve this misalignment between the business and the market.