How Sales Can Collaborate with Product Effectively
Last updated: 

May 12, 2022

How Sales Can Collaborate with Product Effectively

Rasheed Ahamed

Rasheed Ahamed

Sales isn’t just about closing more deals.

If there’s someone that your entire company pays attention to—it’s your customers. As a salesperson, you have the unique opportunity to talk to customers day in, and day out. Naturally, you tend to hear valuable feedback and feature requests that could help the product team prioritize the right features.

Using insights from sales calls to inform product development can lead to a customer-centric product, which in turn, enables you to close more deals, faster.

But it’s not always straightforward to collaborate with your product team and influence the product roadmap.

Friction in Sales and Product Partnership

How often do you turn customer feedback into a product feature?

While both teams talk to customers, their goals aren’t the same.

Sales talks to customers primarily to sell the product. On the contrary, product teams try to understand how customers use the product.

Most sales teams talk to qualified contacts—which makes their feedback more focused on a subset of users. It’s harder for salespeople to articulate the problems from a user perspective without any bias. While it may seem simple, selection bias can turn into a costly mistake especially if you’re an early-stage startup.

As a salesperson, you’re more likely to say, “can we build this feature because customers want it”, rather than “here’s the exact problem our customers have, how can we fix it”.

In addition, when a sales team wants to share feedback with the product team, it’s easier to share the conclusion (suggestion) than the raw data (i.e., the voice of the customer).​​ Imagine sharing a list of sales call recordings for the product team to process and find feedback.

But sharing the final suggestion also presents a challenge. As salespeople are the only ones who heard it from the actual customer, their decision can become “a single point of failure”.👇

Due to the bias and the lack of raw data, it’s difficult for product teams to validate requests from sales and prioritize them over feedback from other channels including moderated user interviews.

The Solution: Leverage the Voice of the Customer

The best way to improve sales and product collaboration is to let the product team hear feedback and requests directly from the customers.

That doesn’t mean you need to invite someone from your product team to join the sales calls. It also doesn’t mean you need to share hour-long recordings with them. Product and engineering teams wouldn’t have the time to listen in to sales conversations or scour hour-long recordings every day.

What it means is, you need to capture and share the customer feedback—directly from the sales calls. In other words, share the actual voice of the customer.

When you share the voice of the customer, it automatically eliminates the problems we mentioned earlier. No more bias and you don’t have to articulate the problem as customers will do the job for you.

The next question is—how can your sales team leverage the customer's voice to collaborate with the product team?

Improving Sales and Product Collaboration

We’ve talked to sales leaders at Zapier, SupplyCompass, and Parabol to learn how they’ve built feedback loops with their product teams using customers’ voices. Let’s dive in!

Zapier: Aligning Around Customer Needs

The sales team at Zapier uses Grain to clip valuable insights from customer calls and share them with the product team via Slack and their internal blog. Rather than scheduling lengthy meetings or sharing full-length videos, the product team just watches short video clips to keep up with the customer feedback from sales.

Steeve Vakeeswaran, Head of Sales & Expansion, emphasizes that sharing the voice of the customer strengthens the sales team’s relationship with the product team because you’re not sending feature requests but sharing the clip—so that the product team can hear it directly from customers.

On top of it, instead of having to make the case for a new feature or a bug fix from written notes, Zapier’s team shares the customer's experience in their own words, saving time and reducing ambiguity.

SupplyCompass: Validating Product Roadmap

The sales team at SupplyCompass uses the voice of the customer to help the product team validate the roadmap and upcoming features.

The process is simple.

Before launching a new feature, the sales team presents wireframes and discusses potential features on the roadmap during their customer calls. Feedback and product insights from customers are then stitched together in a reel of highlights (we refer to it as a Grain Story) and shared with the product team.

For instance, Style Tracker, a SupplyCompass feature currently in beta, was presented to the customers while it was being developed to gather feedback for the product team.

“All the questions from customers when I presented the wireframes [for Style Tracker] were collated into a Story and sent back to the product. So, we were feeding [insights] back into the product development process whilst we were building the product”

- Oliver Rhodes, Head of Growth at SupplyCompass.

Parabol: Informing Product Roadmap

Sales at Parabol captures and shares customer feedback to inform the product roadmap. Whenever a customer provides product feedback, idea, or insight — the salesperson captures the moment and turns it into a shareable video clip (aka highlight) using Grain.

The highlights are then included in Parabol’s public backlog—one of the inputs for the product roadmap.

This means no one has to comb through hours of Zoom recordings. Sharing the voice of the customer provides everyone at Parabol with useful context directly from the customer about issues they are running into using Parabol, new product suggestions, what they like, and what might frustrate them.

Parabol also has a dedicated Slack channel named “#GOLD”. Sales team clips & shares the positive feedback from their conversations through #GOLD to help everyone understand what customers love about Parabol.

​​"Using Grain for sales calls allows us to share high fidelity product feedback with our engineers and designers in a way that no other tool can match. This makes Grain a key part of how we’re able to execute on one of our highest priorities at Parabol — early and continuous delivery of valuable software."

- Drew Housman, Sales at Parabol.

Closing Thoughts

As simple as it sounds, capturing and sharing the voice of the customer is the secret to improving collaboration between your sales and product teams. With tangible, real-world customer feedback in the form of easy-to-watch video clips, the product can build a better roadmap and validate upcoming features before release.

Instead of writing down summaries or sending over hour-long video files, share key moments from your calls in real-time with Grain!

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