Bringing the Voice of the Field to Product Vision

Dominique Darrow Dominique

As Vivun continues to build our community, we consistently hear the importance of inserting the voice of the field into an organization’s vision for the product.

This aligns with our own view of Buyer Experience, which is that buyers want their feedback heard and acted upon by an organization – without winding through multiple bureaucratic layers in order to get someone’s attention. A company with a tightly aligned sales and product team is going to be one that upends buyer expectations and delights them in a way that their competition probably doesn’t have the sheer will and unified front to accomplish.

But that can’t happen if the Product team is attempting to listen to the voice of the customer via surveys and spreadsheets, versus using the Solutions team as the conduit between what the buyer wants and what the company should build.

Solutions leaders who speak to Vivun have described how difficult the process can be when there is no executive support for new influences on the roadmap. Product and Customer Success teams often drive immediate decisions with the occasional outburst from Sales as the “loudest voice in the room.” There’s no data driving the process, and it’s not tied to revenue outcomes.

The Solutions Team at the center

The reality is that Solutions Consultants are often the closest to the new and ignored use cases that have the potential to unlock vast swaths of opportunity in the market. With all of the product-based solution work they do, paired directly with face-to-face buyer interactions, they possess an intimate knowledge of an organization’s  product’s “white space.” When their voice goes unheard, so too does the buyer’s voice.

Unfortunately, many leaders we talk to are facing the “Jira black hole” problem. The field teams hear something that the buyer wants, they enter it into Jira, and it goes into a mountain of uncategorized and unorganized tickets that no human being could possibly sort through and understand. As a result, Solutions Consulting’s insight is lost, and the team is forced to rely on relationships  and tireless negotiations to get critical capabilities prioritized.

To be fair, we’ve also heard more positive stories – where companies are able to keep a feedback loop between product and the field open via weekly meetings where the two groups come together and discuss priorities. In companies like this, the tight product-field relationship makes its way to excited buyers and happier customers.

One truth that comes through loud and clear in these stories is the need to listen to buyers as well as customers. More so than customers, buyers are uniquely attuned to what the competition is doing, and they often introduce untapped market opportunities. Balancing current customer needs and “fresh ideas” can be difficult, but it’s worth it.

Product-field alignment best practices

Collectively, Vivun has heard enough from our community to create a list of suggested best practices for product-field alignment:

  • Do capture buyer feedback as well as the “customer’s voice”
  • Do tie Product asks to the forecast and existing revenue
  • Don’t expect your solutions to sell themselves, even when you have market-fit
  • Don’t charge your customers for product “help” when you can avoid it
  • Do meet with Product regularly–consider forming a Product Council
  • Do provide actionable data to drive your conversations with Product

To justify change you need revenue to back it up, and that can be tough to standardize across the company without a system of record for your Product Gap Lifecycle. 

Once you have the right information in place, it could make sense to follow one leader’s company approach in dedicating 10% of engineering resources to “growth asks” and become more nimble, evolving the roadmap from an inflexible annual directive, to update on a quarterly basis to respond to market needs.

Vivun customers have a head start

Hero by Vivun gives Solution teams an unfair advantage at avoiding the Jira black hole and creating incredible product field alignment. It does this by helping teams tackle their Product Gap Lifecycle. Hero enables Solution team members to intake product feedback at the moment they hear it from the field, have it categorized and clustered through the power of AI, and ensure that the insights are  communicated to product with a picture of potential revenue to the company if those product gaps are closed. 

The product gap data is tracked and visualized over time, so the entire team can see what the business needs to close in-process opportunities and drive more revenue.
In several cases, we’ve heard that Vivun customers have uncovered millions in revenue with the product insights derived as a result of deploying Vivun.

Regardless of whether you’re using technology or going it alone with spreadsheets, finding a way to align your field and product teams is paramount – and from what we’ve heard, top of mind for Solutions leaders everywhere.

Dominique Darrow Dominique November 29, 2022