A Product Manager who is only concerned with meeting the demands of the sales team, giving no thought to a holistic product vision.
- Can mutate into: ”The Executive Assistant” or “The Dictator” Product Manager
- Dangerous when coupled with: “The Note Taker” Designer
- Likelihood of fixing: Low
- Danger to project: Low
The sales team within an organization is tasked with closing sales in order to drive revenue. This fact can lead a Product Manager to believe that this is the entirety of their role: to transmit requirements from the sales team to the product development team. This has the undesirable effect of leaving the product directionless, as it is pulled from one disjointed requirement to the other, as it lacks any overarching product vision.
A Product Manager who quickly and accurately documents and hands off requirements coming from the sales team to the development team is generally considered to be good at their job. The problem, however, is that satisfying individual requests from customers will lead to a bloated product over time, comprised of features that appeal to only a few customers. The longer this is allowed to go on, the more disjointed and clumsy the product will seem.
Capturing what customers as asking for is vitally important to ensure a salable product is being developed. However, a Product Manager must also have a vision for what the product offering is, such that it can be relevant to as many customers as possible. If their only purpose is to transmit requirements from the sales organization to the development organization, their job can be done by a collaborative requirements reporting system, where the sales team directly submits feature requests to the development team.
“Vision” is not something can be trained, taught, or coached: either the product manager has a vision for the product, or they do not. Unfortunately, if they had a vision for the project, they would not have allowed themselves to become a Sales Liaison, as they would have been influencing the product all along rather than just passing off requirements.
The way to address the Sales Liaison is to move them into a marketing function, with their job being defined as capturing customer feedback from sales. This documentation would then need to be given to the new Product Manager who can incorporate this customers feedback into the new overarching product vision.