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?
Cool topic! Thanks for posting it, Jon!
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.