Sales and product development


16th August, 2018

Including the sales team for enhanced product development

In tech, human-centred design is best achieved in close consultation with the end user. Who better to facilitate this exchange than the sales team?

Today’s product teams recognise the importance of including customer-derived insights into the product journey. However, design teams are rarely equipped to facilitate customer feedback, leading businesses to create specialist resources to address the gap.

For MYOB, a simpler method has proven successful.

Bringing sales team and clients into the product journey

One of our Principal Design Researchers, Jonathan Steingiesser describes the problem from the company perspective.

“Incorporating timely, relevant customer feedback into the design process is one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as a team,” said Steingiesser. “It needs to be present at every step of product development, design research, prototype testing and so on, to ensure what we’re developing meets the current and future needs of our customers.

“Traditionally, these teams operate in a siloed manner, creating a need to reach out to people in other teams, they may not know who to speak to and they may not see it as their job to be proactive in this way.”

READ: Closing the gap between marketing and sales

The solution that Steingiesser and his team came up with was to bring the sales teams into the process.

“For many Partner Managers and their clients, the whole way we came up with new ideas was simply a black box – they had no idea what went on in the design process,” said Steingiesser.

“So we thought, why not invite clients and partners on a tour of MYOB, along with their account manager, to see how a relevant product is built?”

By embracing the traditional relationship-building skills of key sales staff, our design teams gain the advantage of a greater breadth and depth of customer feedback. Account managers can point to customer journeys that highlight product challenges, or they can identify the clients that would make ideal trial participants.

And according to Steingiesser, the benefits flow in all directions. The product teams receive the high-quality customer insights it requires, while the sales teams and clients also derive tangible outcomes.

“For salespeople, there’s enhanced clarity around what we’re doing as a business,” said Steingiesser. “They also feel they have a greater stake in the product they’re selling, and it brings them into the equation of a product development process.”

“For our clients and partners, they tend to feel more highly valued as a stakeholder and can benefit from getting a glimpse of how we operate.

“It can’t hurt that they also gain some additional perspective on what exactly goes in to these complex products that we design and build .”

Redefining traditional sales roles

Since implementing these collaborative initiatives at MYOB, sales people enjoy an additional pathway to grow their expertise by gaining additional insight into the product design and development process. This complements a range of other development options that, taken all-in-all, are redefining what it means to be a salesperson.

Sales Manager Joanne Silvester has worked in a variety of sales-related roles throughout her career, but says the company is changing the game for her and her team.

“MYOB is continually offering me opportunities to grow in my career,” said Silvester. “We have some kick-ass leaders to learn from and have access to lots of internal sales leadership courses.”

“I’ve been lucky enough to attend some great women’s leadership symposiums and leading tech events as well.”

Client Manager Jasmine Johnson agrees, saying it’s particularly heartening to work in a company that actively enables its sales people for their personal development and for the development of their clients.

“Having come from an industry in decline, it’s been amazing to work for a tech company in a growth industry with so much more potential,” Johnson said. “Little things like being able to buy clients a coffee, hold seminars, provide training, access to coaching and taking part in mentoring programs allows me to help my clients grow and learn just as I do.”

READ: Is a lack of trust costing you sales?

But it’s the collaborative aspect that Territory Manager Tricia Andrews is particularly excited about, as it differentiates MYOB from all the other sales environments she has worked in.

“Working in a collaborative and creative environment with internal partners like Jonathan and the product team enables effectiveness for the future,” said Andrews. “Having the ability to connect partners to product teams mean our partners really feel they can influence and contribute to change for the better. Our sales teams get to focus on real-time client needs, challenges and opportunities.”

“The overall experience is truly valuable as it means we remain relevant while generating advocacy and engagement from our partner community,” she said.

For Silvester, the sum of these initiatives strikes at the heart of what it means to be an innovative tech company.

“Our product offering is continually innovating and it’s great to help our clients become more seamless and efficient,” said Silvester. “It makes you feel pretty proud to be part of a company that provides tools that make a real difference to so many business owners’ lives.”

Some businesses aren’t geared for corporate sales and may not support the number of key sales and account management resources needed to replicate this model for product development. Instead, customer service representatives or other customer-facing staff may be a suitable alternative.

In breaking down traditional silos within a company, business leaders have an opportunity to create better products with better results and, ultimately, foster deeper relationships with their customers.

Want to learn more about sales positions at MYOB? Check out our careers page for available opportunities.