Product People: Assuming sales people are native leads to lost sales

In my last blog, I define what going native means. I also clearly point out why going native usually ensures the sales person loses the business or, at minimum, will have problems delivering what the customer feels they bought.

​The other side of this coin is product managers and developers who assume all sales people, who try to give feedback on potential product improvements, are native and not to be trusted. These product people often feel they’ve created something that sells itself and any customer, let alone sales person, who doesn’t see that must be misinformed. (The polite way to put it.)

The reality is that product people who take this stance are limiting their own ability to have a successful product because they’re dismissing the feedback that allows them to help sales teams address The Five Abilities™ that cause customers to buy. As in the last blog, let’s walk through each of The Five Abilities™.

VisABILITY – (Being seen in the right way by the right people.) Assuming sales people have no worthwhile information results in product managers not listening to feedback. The worst cases of this are when product managers do this in front of customers but even when done in private the customer will know when they’re not being heard. That’s not because the sales person will say that or because changes aren’t made, it’s because there won’t be any explanation for why the request goes unanswered. An explained no is better than no answer at all. Failed VisABILITY.

CredABILITY – (Having superior knowledge and success.) Lack of information exchange between product and sales teams means the customer experience will be with someone who doesn’t have the knowledge necessary to help the customer understand the reasons behind the product or service design. The sales person is left with no ability to change the customer’s view of the product to an understanding that makes them feel good about buying. Failed CredABILITY.

ViABILITY – (A solution that fits both needs and readiness.) The lack of information exchange has negative impacts here as well. A creative sales person is able to promote everything from product and service features to things that make their product more easily deployed. These are things that convince a customer that even a product that doesn’t meet 100% of their requirements, can still be the most viable option in the market. Failed ViABILITY.

CapABILITY – (Delivering on what the customer bought.) Lack of synchronization between product and sales teams increases the likelihood that the sales person will misrepresent what the company and product team are able to provide in terms of features and deployment assistance. This results in unrealistic customer expectations, which leads to a belief that the seller is not capable of delivering what was promised. Failed CapABILITY.

ReliABILITY – (Being accountable “when” things go wrong.) Simply put, if the sale and product teams aren’t working together, there is no way for anyone to organize a collective response based on the combined knowledge of the customer’s issues and the seller’s ability to address them. Failed ReliABILITY.

Assuming that all sales people are native cuts off a great source of information to help improve product development. It also eliminates the best source sales people have for information on how to execute on The Five Abilities™. Without the product team – sales team connection, you risk not giving the customer all the reasons to buy even without meeting all requirements, which is commonplace.

Finding the balance between customer advocacy and product or service champion is a critical skill that great sales people have to have. The Five Abilities™ methodology facilitates that healthy exchange between customer, seller and product team, thus creating an offering that wins even without a 100% solution.

©2013 Rick Wong – The Five Abilities™ LLC


Winning Lifelong Customers with The Five Abilities