Product teams often find themselves in the role of the middleman. They’re a step away from customers as they work with sales teams and a step away from deliverables as they work with engineers.
And, that’s challenging, because it puts product teams in the role of “go to” group to answer for everything. Sales gets frustrated because product causes delays. Engineers get frustrated because product causes changes. It can be a constant game of tug of war.
That puts an extra strain on your team…and raises the bar considerably on communication expectations!
Sales and technology teams will never think alike. They’re opposite ends of the business. And, many times, they don’t have to think alike if they have the product team in the middle. That’s how product gets stuck as the middleman.
It’s not an easy role to navigate, but it is a manageable one. To shift from the role of middleman to influencer of two very different teams, you need a storyline formula with two key components: a Message and a Framework.
Content: Product should have the megaphone in the tug of war. You have to win together and that comes from solving together. Think through options and then give both groups the sound bites that help explain a delay to a customer or a change order to an engineering team. On the roadmap of development and delivery, when one thing moves ahead something else falls behind. A clear storyline brings alignment and buy-in to competing perspectives.
Style: It’s hard to drive influence when you’re busy putting out fires. And most product teams…simply don’t. They get caught up in the latest crisis and miss their window to speak up and influence the conversation. And that’s a missed opportunity because they sit in the best seat to help prevent misalignment. We focus on building confidence in speaking up and leading a conversation that brings in all perspectives.
Situational: Product managers have become communication managers. And it’s going to take repetition to keep everyone on the same page. The discrepancy between sales and technology is what needs to be done and the best way to get there. Once they agree, solidify the agreement with consistent communication and help them share it with stories and examples. When product teams strengthen their role in the middle, companies see tremendous benefit from clarity of thoughts and alignment of priorities.
For teams, these three steps are the start of a Tailored Program.
For individuals, a combination of Open Programs helps you build your own toolkit.