As you work to bring a product to market, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done. Many times, you have to work with internal teams that have specific relationships and skills to gain the user insights you need to launch these products.
Which are the main teams you need to work with?
Working with these internal teams will help you gain the user insights you need to do the leg work to ensure your product will be a success or adjust product requirements to make sure users are excited to purchase it.
You might think the sales team is just the one at the ‘end of the line’ that will sell the product once it is in market. But it is very important to remember that the sales team often has a relationship with your customers, especially when it comes to product improvements.
As an example, if your sales team sold a certain product to a set of customers who all really liked it but had suggestions for improvements on it for the next iteration on, they could help you connect with those customers. You could work with sales to make those connections and understand why the customers need certain features.
These one-on-one relationships are extremely key to gaining different insights. The product manger often needs the sales team to connect them with customers so they can gain insights on what is needed as they build out the road map and features coming to the product.
Marketing teams have great insights into customer behavior. Their job is to understand what the product does and then turn it into language that makes the customer want to buy it. Understanding what sells can help you better understand your customers.
Marketing can also run surveys, do media promotion, and give you access to lead generations created from trade shows or gated assets. Access to these leads can help you understand who the customers are and what they are interested in, and it can even help you build out a funnel for sales to get user insights and understand what needs to be launched.
It is important to partner with marketing as they can build out programs to help you get very specific on customer needs and customer engagement. For example, if you are trying to target a specific industry, your marketing team can help with the information and insight they have and continue to build those out as you need.
Your public relations and analyst relations teams have good insight into the industry itself. You may not get one-on-one customer insights as you would from a sales force, but you can get overall customer insights and understand an industry as a whole.
Also, knowing what media and analysts might say about a product is important to understand when you are bringing it to market. Often these media and analysts influence your users and their behaviors.
The engineering team, quite simply, knows what works. Engineering is going to build the product for you. Perhaps they have built similar products with similar requirements and know what will work and what may not work for the customers.
Understand engineering insights will help you better understand customer insights. For example, maybe you are building a CRM software tool and the engineering team has built a similar software tool in the past. They might tell you the requirements don’t work for your target market. That is a very important thing to know when you are working to understand customer insights.
The last group I want to talk about is executives. This is one that many people don’t think is important at all. Why would I be able to get insights from executives? Aren’t they way too busy for that? Well, the answer is probably yes, but they also need to give you customer insights from decision-makers.
Often times, executives have relationships with other executives, namely, your customers. If they are able to pick up the phone and have a five-minute call with a customer and quickly run an idea by them, the information could truly be invaluable to you.
I am not suggesting that you call in your senior sales leader for every single piece of your road map or every product idea you are unsure of. However, if a product idea has passed the "sniff test," which means all of the numbers are adding up and telling you to move forward, I believe the next step is to bring it to an executive for approval. Asking them to get quick customer insight with executives at customers’ companies could help confirm whether the idea should move forward.
You simply cannot launch a product alone. You need to work with many internal stakeholders to ensure that you have the right customer insights. Working with all these different departments (and more) will help you ensure you reach your customers from all angles and have the information you need in order to properly launch a product.
Teamwork is the key to so much success in business, and product launches and customer insights are no exception. As they say, "It takes a village."