May 29th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Everything Goes to the Customer

Everything created by marketing for “internal use” will get to the customer or potential customer. Expect it. Write it with that knowledge. Don’t write down secrets and give it to sales. Control the information flow. And, certainly don’t make it look good (a common problem I have).

Sales and Support people are well intentioned. But, they are not good at keeping secrets. They’re good at sharing the right information to win the sale. That’s why they’re there after all. And, without sales to fuel the company we all get to find another place to work. So, with this in mind, anyone in marketing — especially product management — must remember that any document created will end-up in customers’ hands.

Labeling anything as “internal use” is like flagging it for special customer distribution. Some sales people view this as a card to play with a customer that will make them feel special. “Now, I’m going to give this to you because it’s critical that you see our commitment to [ insert sales objection here ]. Giving you this could get me in trouble, but I trust you won’t distribute it.” Saying this establishes a trust relationship with customer. That is, the sales person could be fired for sending you this, but he or she trusts you Mr. Customer enough to get this deal done. This is often viewed as a key method for building trust and guanxi with the potential customer. And, it can be effective.

So, when ever you’re about to write something down – a roadmap, a feature, a design – know that a potential customer will likely see this at some point. (or, a lawyer, BoD, SEC – but that’s for more of an ethics topic later).
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