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September 2008
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November 2008

After the Acquisition, Talk to the Sales Group....Please

When you're putting together your product roadmap, sometimes it is better to license / acquire a technology rather than build it.   Looks good on paper, much harder in the execution.   You need to build a compelling case for sales to actually offer the product to your customers.

Which could be rough.

A You see, the sales people have quotas and make good bonuses / commissions based on hitting those goals.   So you need to make sure you can a) make the case for the new product in meeting their goals and b) make sure they have all the tools necessary.

I saw this not happen years ago after Novell acquired Unix and other products.   The sales group only knew how to sell NetWare boxes through 2 tier distribution and not how to engage end customers directly.  A few years later those product lines were sold to other companies at a significant loss.

Just last week I had a similar experience after I downloaded a paper on an acquired technology from an email company.   Sales followed up with me after two days and tried to sell me on their mainstream product, not the new one I had asked. 

And that is product marketing's problem.

Product Strategy

Defining a product road map and executing against it is a fine balancing act.  A You want to keep up with customer demand and competitors, while making sure you are delivering what you need today.   

One of the biggest challenges is keeping engineering focused on "maintenance" and bug fixes for the current product.   I once worked for a secure email company who would get an alpha release ready and then immediately start developing the next release.   Needless to say it was hard to get customers to use the product (well it did work *most* of the time).

When it comes to prioritization just remember this one truth:
"The best customers are the ones you already have".

From a pure dollar and cents perspective, current customer revenue is cheaper than new customer acquisition.