A focus on innovation where final products practically sell themselves has well-served the manufacturing sector for decades. However, in today’s world, this strategy won’t drive long-term growth. For example, the next best widget cannot sell itself by solely improving features and benefits. Companies need a robust product pipeline that meets the changing customer needs—and the right team in place to connect the product development and sales pipeline. In other words, organizations must align resources to unlock revenue.

While product innovation continues to drive growth, the approach must connect well with customer insights to motivate market-driven solutions. The Alexander Group’s recent work in the manufacturing space has uncovered a disconnect between new product development and sales pipeline. Without a strong link between the two, sales will continue to focus on near-term opportunities, capturing growth only through cross-selling current products, while product development creates products without targeted opportunities in mind.

To drive sustainable growth, world-class manufacturing organizations leverage customer awareness to develop market insights and incorporate them into the product development process. These organizations should support the business case not only with broad, qualitative or subjective market variables, but also by the application of targeted opportunities and account planning. But how do they link these processes?

The successful execution of this process requires a team of players, in the right position in order to win:

  1. Revenue Leadership requires a CRO that understands the importance of organizational growth expectations beyond the next 90 days. They need to articulate the vision for a sustained set of continuous, customer-focused products and the insights required to develop them.
  2. Field Marketing has a critical role to play in collecting and synthesizing insights. Key responsibilities include the effective management of key opinion leaders (KOLs) and packaging voice of the customer (VOC) into personas that allow product development to develop targeted products.
  3. Future innovations in the Product Development team need to align with customer personas with a deep understanding of who the customer is and the type of challenge to solve. ROI and business case estimates require robust planning with sales to ensure revenue projections are achievable. Product development should be held accountable to revenue forecasts to maintain closer collaboration.
  4. Sales Operations acts as the foundational tether between each of the above groups. They manage the insight repository, ensure access to clean data and analytics to support decision-making and the development of strategy.

Does your organization have the right players in position to create a successful team?

Learn more about the Alexander Group’s Manufacturing practice or contact us to understand how AGI can help you set your lineup to execute the winning strategy.

To learn more about aligning resources and unlocking revenue, attend Alexander Group’s upcoming Annual Chief Sales Executive Forum.

Co-author: Kyle Uebelhor is a principal in Alexander Group’s Chicago office and one of the firm’s Manufacturing practice leaders.

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