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After years of leadership as a product manager and product marketing in software and tech companies, I’ve concluded that Product Managers might have mislabeled roles. Instead, I would describe product management rockstars as customer experience experts. Why? At the end of the day, our customers rarely select a product. They buy an experience: inclusive of the sales process, the packaging, the service and attention to detail, the use of the product and the experience long after the salesperson has moved on to the next deal.

You yourself know how this feels. Think of the last time you or your team were in a software decision-making process in the channel. You talked to many salespeople, no doubt. How many times did you feel like you were in a sales process versus a collaboration with a peer addressing your challenges? No doubt, you spent a lot of time evaluating capabilities and price, but did you really understand what the next 6 months of your professional life might look like?

Your buyers are in that same predicament. They crave an experience, from you and from your partners.

Having spent years architecting sales strategies through both direct and indirect channels alike, I have wrestled with the very issue I write about in this blog: creating a cohesive experience throughout the customer journey. As business leaders, we find it much easier to talk about marketing and selling a product than about anticipating the lifecycle of the customer and crafting a sales and customer management process that drives success.

In the months ahead, I invite you to join me as we explore best practices and ideas that may help you and your teams. I will offer you these three ideas:

  • In a SaaS Model, Customer Lifetime Value is Everything, Period: I’ve spent most of my years in SaaS companies, and know the models well. There’s a balance between driving new business and focusing on maintaining the lifeblood of the business: existing customers. SaaS companies ideally, regardless of sales channel, strive to recover cost of sales & deployment in the first 12 months — this is a common health metric. As the channel leader, you have to create pipeline value as well as retain customers to meet revenue and growth metrics.
  • Your business is changing: With the rise of ecommerce and changes in buying preferences of the ‘empowered buyer’ — your customers will seek ecommerce channels over both your direct and partner sales teams when possible. As an industry, we need to embrace the buyer and equip our partners to respond.
  • Channel teams can revolutionize your company: With over 70% of global sales going indirect, you and your teams face a unique opportunity to deliver value in how you think about delivering products, services, and experiences to your buyers through your channel.

 

I’m looking forward to sharing more with you on this journey. I’ll be at the SiriusDecisions Summit next week, and I’d love to meet you in Austin. Otherwise, leave a comment or drop me a line at kristafuller@ziftsolutions.com.