The Cheat Code to Better Product Discovery

Aaron Sun Avatar photo

Figuring out exactly what people need before you build a feature or product for them is an essential part of product development. Teams that take the time to understand real user problems before attempting to solve them via product discovery can dramatically lower their product development risks. 

Source: Productboard Blog

There are numerous resources available to product managers today that illustrate what an ideal product discovery framework might look like—but how often does this play out in reality? 

Reality is often messy 

Even with a clearly defined product discovery framework, B2B product teams often run into significant challenges: 

  • Insufficient capacity to conduct all of the work that’s needed for ideal product discovery
  • Pressure to move fast, ship early, and ship often 
  • Difficulty establishing a link between product releases and customer outcomes 
  • The loudest voice in the room (founders, senior leaders, or longer-tenured employees with strong opinions) 

Reality ensues, and product teams have to take a more pragmatic approach, often by doing one of the following: 

  • Doing discovery selectively (e.g. with a subset of users) 
  • Compressing discovery (forming hypotheses about user needs and moving to solution testing more quickly) 
  • Making discovery continuous (Shipping iteratively and conducting discovery throughout)

These are hard to do well. In the end, product managers are forced to extrapolate results from a few data points and use that to make a convincing argument about their company’s product direction, or iterate rapidly and risk the patience and goodwill of established customers. 

Somehow you have to be convincingly right, a lot. But what if there was a way to easily get the answers?  

A solid partnership with GTM is the cheat code to better product discovery 

A PM’s secret weapon in all of this is the go-to-market organization. Need additional eyes and ears with customers? Who better than a group that has customer conversations every day? 

Need to know what moves the needle most? Sales and Marketing actively work to influence prospects to buy your company’s solution—they’re present for those critical purchasing decisions. When it comes to being able to convince and persuade, the GTM organization is one of the most powerful voices in the room. 

Overcoming frustrations between Product and Sales 

But there are frustrations. To Product teams, Sales feedback can oftentimes be inconsistent and anecdotal, or too high-level to truly be actionable for R&D teams. In some cases, feedback from Sales assumes that the solution is obvious and doesn’t take a broader look at customer needs. 

To Sales, it’s not always clear that Product is listening to feedback, even when the opportunity team has gone out of their way to try and pass along insights through the requested channels. Is anything happening, or does feedback just go into a black hole? 

Finding the right partners in GTM

The ideal partner in the go-to-market organization is someone who has both an in-depth understanding of customer needs and their desired outcomes—and intimate knowledge of the company’s product, main differentiators, and existing feature gaps. 

It should come as no surprise to you that this group is PreSales. 

PreSales can contribute immensely to the roadmap by tying feature requests and product feedback directly to revenue, and driving healthy conversations with product managers on building what matters most to customers. Sales engineers won’t tell you that the product needs to be more “enterprise-ready”. They’ll explain that if the product doesn’t have the flexibility to adjust the logical relationships between filters, then there are seven use cases they cannot sell around, and that plays right into a competitor’s positioning against you. 

Align Sales and Product with Vivun

At Vivun, our Product team receives consistent feedback from Sales Engineers on product issues that are impacting revenue, whether as a barrier to a deal or a source of renewal risk on an existing account—and a growing number of other companies are also adopting this approach to unblock hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue

Interested in driving more impactful product decisions? Explore our guide on the Metrics that Matter for Aligning Product and Sales

Aaron Sun Avatar photo December 5, 2023