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  • IoT Feature Prioritization: Aligning Product, Sales and Marketing

The success of an IoT product relies heavily on connectivity, communication and solving complex problems in ways that feel simple and intuitive.                

So isn’t it ironic that your IoT Product, Sales and Marketing teams often work beside each other rather than together?

Silos are bad news for any business or organization and the halls of corporate history are haunted by the ghosts of enterprises that failed dramatically because blinkered teams tore them asunder. 

For instance:

  • MySpace (remember those guys?) mastered marketing but its technicians couldn’t keep up with Facebook’s superior features.
  • WeWork silos engendered a lack of transparency that resulted in several dubious leadership decisions.
  • The banking sector’s silo effect brought the world to its knees during the financial crash of 2007-2008.  

You get the picture. But the fantastic flipside is that when you smash silos in your IoT brand, the results for satisfying customers and skyrocketing sales are boundless.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

When you work together collaboratively, you’re in good company – some of the world’s most successful organizations have transparency and teamwork as linchpins of their culture:

  • Netflix has a company culture which is ‘highly aligned, loosely coupled’ – employees are encouraged to share information ‘openly, broadly and deliberately’, people are prioritized over process and candid communication is embraced.
  • Spotify is an excellent example of an organization which uses an agile, people-driven, autonomous approach to organize multiple teams for product development. In this Scaling Agile model, ‘tribes, squads, chapters & guilds’ work together transparently to cross-pollinate ideas, foster creativity and achieve amazing results. 
  • Bridgewater Associates uses its patented radical transparency in the investment management sphere, to pioneer a trailblazing workplace culture where ‘the best ideas win’ – no matter where they emerge from in the hierarchy. In cross-functional meetings, staff members can question another employee of any seniority on the quality of thinking which led them to make any decision – this applies right up to CEO level. This is a principles-based approach devised by founder Ray Dalio. 

Want to emulate the success of these pioneers? We’ll unpack how to do it next! 

Three teams, one shared aim – driving more revenue

At first glance, your three key IoT teams seem to have rather distinct and disparate aims:

  • Product leaders and their teams coordinate everything (and everybody) necessary to develop and build the product – aligning IoT product features and functions with customer requirements and market demands.
  • Marketing managers and their teams attract target consumers, convert them to customers and do everything in their power to retain them for maximum lifetime value. They’re communications experts with a knack for creating engaging content that hits the mark across a range of channels.
  • Sales managers and their teams help prospective leads become customers by working out which product (or which aspect of a product) presents the best value proposition to a potential customer. They’re at the sharp end of getting results and making money – engaging daily in conversations packed with powerful insights. 

However, each team shares several common goals, it’s just that you’re working towards them based on different metrics for success and communicating in an exclusive rather than inclusive way. As a reminder, here are a few superb, shared goals:

  • You all ultimately want to sell a product that satisfies customers and makes money.
  • You all have unique insights, information, and data on what various customer segments want and need in terms of an IoT product – this can influence everything from features and functions to connectivity and data capture, and brand positioning and messaging.
  • You all have discrete expertise, but also valuable insights to contribute to pricing, market research, customer persona development, go-to-market planning, cybersecurity, and compliance, and even product packaging. 
  • You all need excellent IoT products to succeed – and the richer the data your firm perpetually mines from experts in each team (and their customer contacts), the better the chance you’ve got of building blockbusters. 

By working together in a more transparent, cohesive, and strategic way, your IoT brand will benefit because you’ll make better decisions faster. 

Working together symbiotically

‘Breaking down silos can spark innovation in unexpected ways’

Gillian Tett – author, The Silo Effect.

Once you get your product, sales, and marketing teams around the same (metaphorical) table regularly (and they’re communicating with respect and courtesy), you’re establishing a dynamic dialogue that generates great ideas and results:

  • Sales talks directly to customers, therefore they can relay vital information to Product on the IoT features that real-life customers love – as well as those they find problematic, or those that are missing but would make a beloved product even better. For instance, customers might tell a smart doorbell brand sales team that they wish it had two-way audio – Sales then relay this information to Product directly if they’re involved in the decision-making process. Marketing slots nicely in here too – it can add the cherry on the customer’s cake by running a responsive campaign saying, ‘you asked us for two-way audio – you got it’. 
  • As well as positively influencing the IoT features included in a new product, or an upgrade to an existing release, Sales can identify new customer problems which can inspire Product to create an entirely new IoT solution – thus ensuring that your brand stays ahead of the curve and differentiates and diversifies when appropriate. Alternatively, Sales might raise the alarm bells with Product on an emerging cybersecurity threat to address. 
  • When Product and Marketing work closely, Product develops a better understanding of core marketing disciplines like brand and market awareness, managing the sales funnel at every stage from top to bottom, executing events like launches and promotions, and generating qualified leads for Sales. Furthermore, when Product works with Marketing from the inception of a new IoT offering, its writers, designers and social media managers clearly understand vision and strategy so that all of their messaging is consistent and delivered in a distinct, appropriate voice and tone. 
  • Marketing can also use storytelling to humanize the technical IoT features of an IoT device or subtly shift the focus from features to benefits if this is a more effective value proposition. Likewise, through social listening and feedback from live events, your Marketing team can provide Product teams with feedback that can be implemented in the next version of a device.

So by working symbiotically, Product, Sales and Marketing bring your brand closer to its customers – this can help you adapt your offering over time when the wants and needs of your target personas shift or entirely new customer segments emerge. 

But this doesn’t happen by osmosis – you need a practical plan to make this exciting new way of working actually happen. Here are a few ideas:

  • Build a product roadmap so that every team understands the overarching strategy and aims – and how, where and when they’ll contribute to achieving them. Struggling to get started? Check out this great guide to IoT product roadmaps.  Link to our product roadmap blog.
  • Listen actively to customer-facing teams – whether it’s an old-school physical pinboard and a regular meeting or a digital portal, create a forum where your Sales and Marketing teams can communicate customer problems to your Product team. Then, crucially, put the best customer requests into action. 
  • Communicate clearly – through mechanisms like product roadmaps, online forums and physical or virtual meetings, establish a common verbal, visual and textual language. This way, nothing gets lost in translation or misinterpreted. 
  • Be prepared to adjust – once feedback from customers, teams and stakeholders is flowing freely from the start and forms a continuous loop, be prepared to adjust anything from device functionality to project timelines, and marketing strategies to sales tactics. This might involve a measure of ego eradication – but your customer will benefit, and so will your bottom line. 

Final thoughts

Hopefully you’re feeling inspired to smash sales goals with the triple whammy of Product, Sales and Marketing teams working together harmoniously. 

Here are some quick takeaways:

  • You’ve got far more in common than divides you.
  • By building a roadmap and establishing a common language, you’ll enhance your IoT offering at every stage.
  • When Product teams talk regularly to Sales and Marketing, they get closer to customer needs and desires. 
  • Collaborative and transparent working has helped organizations in many diverse sectors to thrive – it’s your turn next.

Best of luck on the next step of your journey. 

And remember – your IoT brand is always greater than the sum of its parts! 

Talk to us about a customized IoT cybersecurity marketing solution today!

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