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How PreSales can contribute to product roadmap
PreSales can help the product teams discover the changing customer needs and influence the prioritization of features in a product roadmap.
“If used right, PreSales data can fuel the product vision ahead of the market” – Vivek Shivaswamy
What is a product roadmap
A product roadmap is a commonly agreed-upon source of truth for the present infrastructure and future product vision. It defines the product's foresight, plan / blueprint, priorities, and progress over time — shaping the organization's short-term and long-term goals.
One of the most common techniques to build a product roadmap is collecting customer requirements regularly and noting them in a product management tool. In time, you will have insightful data based on widely asked features to guide your feature priorities.
Incorporating customer insights into your product roadmap builds trust as you listen to the market and guide your product build. It also shows that you are receptive to customers' needs and requirements — turning your product more agile and in-tune with the latest advancements.
The ideal frequency for a product roadmap update is monthly, but it varies from company to company. In fast-paced start-ups, a roadmap is updated almost weekly as the PMF & Growth numbers are crucial. A roadmap is updated quarterly in stable MNCs (precisely enterprise products).
The roadmap update process involves product leadership, including representatives from Product, Dev, Design, and other GTM teams coming together and prioritizing the roadmap items by aligning with the strategic goals of the company, the customer needs, and the market trends, among other determinants.
Related:  3 Timeless Practices to Nail your Next Sales Demo
Best practices for the best product roadmaps
As outlined above, listening to your customers is the best way to build your feature priorities. They are the best critics and the best supporters you can get.
The second best way is to be an active watcher — watch out for your competition's announcements. Please keep track of their feature releases.
The third best way is to identify a theme — work on small subsets. Discuss with your team, build the larger picture of how a new feature will help your customers, and work backward on the feature use cases. This way, you understand the micro-and-macro level use cases of your feature.
Here are a few more best practices for building a product roadmap:
1) Choose roadmap items by the outcome and not just features
2) Never over promise on the roadmap
3) Always remember, the timelines on a roadmap are flexible
4) Make sure all the stakeholders are updated whenever the roadmap is updated
5) Make sure the feedback is well integrated
6) Maintain a consistent format
How do you prioritize between widely-asked features:
The most commonly used prioritization techniques include the "Impact / Effort Matrix" or the "MoSCoW method — Must have, Should have, Could have, and Would have." Many companies use a custom prioritization matrix by using different parameters relevant to the business and giving appropriate weightage to each.
How does a typical day in a PreSales Engineer’s life look like
PreSales Engineers are the perfect mix of Product Managers & Sales. In a SaaS sales setup, they connect AE's and product teams. They help AE demo, win deals and help product teams get instant feedback on features.
Related: How to improve your technical win rate? And decrease costs
While things may vary for each team and company, an ordinary day in a PreSales person's life is spent qualifying SQLs, keeping track of internal and external stakeholder emails and meetings, talking to prospects, demoing the product, answering RFPs (request for proposals) and liaising with PMs to translate-back client feedback.
I’ve personally worked with PreSales on a feature enhancement that helped us convert a prospect to a customer. This feature also helped us differentiate ourselves in the market, putting us ahead of the competition.
How PreSales can contribute to the product roadmap
PreSales is an internal core team. More than Sales, they understand the technical nuances of the product and can communicate the same to the prospect.
Market-facing teams are customer advocates. They have a direct line to the customers and better understand the customer needs than any other team. They can help the product teams discover the changing customer needs and influence the prioritization of features in a product roadmap.
Data collected by the PreSales team is a goldmine for the product team and the management. It shows what they need to prioritize and what can be sidelined.
Collecting genuine user feedback is primarily a nightmare in operational POV for any other team through traditional forms of market research, like surveys.
PreSales can feed timely data and insights into the product roadmap — feature release dates, impact on users, and more.
Have an internal roadmap in place between PreSales and Product teams. It should focus on a combination of product features and their impact on customer use cases and less on technical terms.
1) Maintain a separate document of your internal roadmap, if possible.
2) Group similar features into themes and build use cases and personas.
3) And most importantly, don't promise any timelines; remove references to any release dates.
Hear what PreSales have to say
PreSales can answer some solid questions about the market and your customers. Yet, they are not involved in their feedback and are not taken into account. Product-market-fit and GTM success can only be materialized after realizing the innate potential and value of PreSales.
Sales Engineers are directly connected to the market, keeping a real-time pulse on what customers need and want for their respective organizations.
PreSales are also the team that answers the door when a prospect comes knocking and responsible for bringing in the first sale, while, Customer Support & Success create impact post-purchase and are more inclined towards retention and up-selling.
While being in continuous communication with prospects (the ones who have not yet fixated themselves to a product but are actively searching for a cost-effective and efficient solution), PreSales gain foresight for the next 12 to 16-months. Using a shared internal roadmap with the product team, they can exercise and document their version of product-vision.
Using this data, you can troubleshoot loop holes in your product roadmap or GTM strategies:
1) What’s pulling back prospects from the final move – purchase?
2) Will the prospects buy after a certain period of time? Is time the only constraint?
3) How do we retain our customers?
4) Which solutions have worked for us in the past?
5) What are the most common technical gaps? How severe are they?
6) Is our price-point too steep for our prospects?
7) Is our competitor facilitating more value for the buyers out there?
From team PreSkale — teams using PreSkale can answer these questions in a jiffy. We’d be more than happy to show you how. Click here to book a demo now or simply check out our other articles below.