Sales Droid, this is why your input is rated “low priority”

Sales is a good source of information, but take their feedback with a grain of salt, their horizon is short, and their view is the deal, not the strategy

The Dude often gets into altercations with Type A sales people over why their requested feature(s) keep falling below the cut line. It is not because the Dude doesn’t listen to the suggestion, and it is not because they are lame (although many of them are). It is because they are really reactionary and won’t move the needle.

That last statement may sound presumptuous, but it really isn’t if you have been in the Product Management game. Sales’ is only concerned with what they perceive that a competitor has that we don’t, or what was part of a bid response that they recently lost. Never mind that if you aren’t the sales person working with the customer to define the bid, you have already lost the deal. No, the truth is that the “must have”, or “they have it, and we are losing our asses because we don’t” statements are all bald faced lies.

Case in point. Last October, in a quarterly review, our VP of sales and Business Development trotted out the “our competitors are going to announce this any day” card. There was a piece of equipment from a world leader in networking technology that was being announced, and we just “had” to get our software certified to run on it. Why this was über urgent is the topic for another post. Needlessly, he swore that our software would be a “snap” to install and run, and if we didn’t accelerate the process, competitor X, whom we all hate with a vengeance, would have a preemptory press release, and we would look foolish.

I was assured that it would be running by Friday (it was a sunny Thursday when this meeting happened). Needless to say, the hardware wasn’t ready, the operating environment was buggy, and not ready for prime time, and the external interfaces were a mess.

Five (5) months later, with reduced expectations, we were able to complete the install, and the certification.

We launched this with our main release this last June, and having almost 4 months of sales data showed that we sold exactly one (1) unit, world wide. So much for “gotta have it”, “they are gonna beat us, and we will have egg on our face”. The slam dunk. The immense sales pipeline. The humongous channel demand for this “right sized” product turned out to be complete and utter bullshit.

If this was the only time that this has happened, I would be tempted to write it off. But, it is repeated ad nauseum throughout my career.

That, Sales Driod, is why I automatically prioritize your features far down the list. Deal with it.

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