We sell B2B solutions (multiple products) though direct channel. Our product portfolio is complex and our market / sales teams are global. We have many, many open opportunities in the pipeline.  We use salesforce.com to manage them but occasionally solutions get tagged with the wrong products.

 

As a PM it is my job to engage with the various global sales teams to keep an eye over oppurtunities that involve my products. This works 90% of the time.

Occasionally I get a phonecall like I did last week - 'we have just sold x to y and it needs to be deployed with these features / customizations'.

It is a good strategic account and the customizations make sense - if it had been on my radar a month ago it would have been manageable - but it wasn't.

What techniques, tools and processes are others using to manage your individual product pipelines?

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Cool topic! Thanks for posting it, Jon!

My 2c:

First, if your processes are working 90% of the time, you must be doing something right! (care to share how it works in your organization?)  There will always be exceptions, but to avoid the other 10%, here is what I look at:

 

a)      The Sales Training (does the sales team have all the right tools and know-how on how to sell your product? How often do you run in-person training and refreshers?)

b)      The Requirements submission pipeline (does everyone in the sales & support organization have access to submit requests for features/customizations to your backlog prioritization channel? Do they actually use it? How often are those requests reviewed & prioritized? How do you communicate prioritization decisions back to the requestor?)

c)       How strong is your Professional Services organization? (is there clear definition for the Proff. Services offering? Is there a standard definition of product functionality vs. customizations that Proff. Services will provide? Do they have a solid price chart? Is your Sales team trained on how to sell Professional Services and what to charge for custom work?)   

 

I found that having strong b) and c) really helps in reducing the volatility in the backlog and also allows for a happy customer path to customer-centric customizations, which can later be incorporated into your product if you encounter repeated client requests.   

 

Would love to hear what others use.

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