outsideinview.comYour phone rings. The caller ID shows it’s from Nancy, the sales manager. You cringe!

As a product professional, we are all too familiar with horror stories initiated by our sales teams. Remember the one where the sales leader promised a feature, and then put it in the contract so it is legally binding and then, afterwards, tells you – meaning you have to disrupt the scheduled release to accommodate this. Or, how about the one where the sales person doesn’t know the product so you are called to do the demo, at the very last minute, day after day.  Even the one where you found that the feature document that you spent weeks agonizing over was changed to “better meet our needs” and has already been used by the field force, of course, meaning more questions, since they are making claims that just aren’t real.

And, at the end of the day, all you want to do is put the entire sales force in one room and yell “Stop this madness!”

How effective would that be? What would you accomplish? Probably not much, except to 1) release the inner frustration, and 2) not have friends in the sales organization. In some places, it may also be somewhat career limiting. Remember, they are generating revenue every day.

So, how about trying something else. Try making the sales organization your ally.  Really your friend. Go out and have lunch together. Learn how they do their job. Learn what frustrates them. Understand their goals. Treat learning about the sales organization the same way you do as when you are developing your personas. Get to know their real motivation, goals, objectives, behaviors and attitudes.

When you understand the sales teams at this deeper level, you will learn how to better work with them. You might learn that they love in-person training. So, stop doing the webinars. You may notice that they don’t believe the 14 stage SFDC process is helpful, so don’t build your communication funnel around that, rather focus on the steps that they believe provides meaning.

Of course, I’m not advocating that you throw out all the product and audience research you have done.  Your insights matter. But, so do the insights of the sales team. Looking in from the outside, you will get further with your internal adoption if you consider the learnings brought by your partners in the development of your tools and programs. Fighting them will just lead to bigger issues.