January 2013 Event

Posted on | January 22, 2013 | Comments Off on January 2013 Event

“Improving Products – Synergies from Business Development and Product Management” with 1)An Le, VP Business Development, Yammer, 2)Ani Chaudhuri, Entrepreneur & Founder/CEO, Whodiniand 3)Blaine Mathieu, Chief Product Officer, Mindjet. Moderator, Timm Hoyt, Head of Strategic Alliances, Brocade.

By Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah

This month’s event featured a three-person panel that had experience working with emerging and big size businesses. They shared their thoughts in building synergies between Business Development (BD) and Product Management (PM). They also shared how to make BD and PM relationships more collaborative and innovative. Some of the topics discussed were,

1) What is the role of BD?

An mentioned all the basic functions of BD such as creating new alliances, channels and partners should result in multiplying the number of customers with a single engagement – that’s key! In other words, reducing cost of customer acquisition by making efficient partnerships is the main role of BD. In Ani’s view, BD’s roles vary depending on what stage the product is. For example, when a company is very young, BD gets involved with the product more intimately and evolves into channel creation role. He also stated that if any BD task is repeatable, it should move to sales.

2) Should BD report into PM?

Blaine doesn’t believe BD should report into PM, however, both entities should work very closely on product strategy, partnerships and GTM strategy. BD should focus on accelerating sales.

3) How does compensations of BD and PM differ?

The panel mentioned that BD gets compensated on deals but PMs are not. When Blaine asked the question back to the attendees whether PMs want their compensations tied to deals, no one in the audience agreed.  

3) When is the best time to hire a BD person in a startup?

In An’s perspective, companies should hire BD as soon as the product is ready. Blaine said it might be a wise idea to push off hiring BD as far as possible. CEO and product groups will be informally working on BD roles, but, when a BD person gets hired, usually the teams will start working in silos. Ani thinks it’s best to hire a marketing team that evolves into BD.

4) What are the tactics to make PMs, Exec team and BD work together?

An – focus of your business should be very clear and all teams should work toward it. Ani – throw a candy (a responsibility) on the floor and some group will pick it up, thus leaving the teams to manage their roles by themselves based on their interests and team capacities. Blaine – PM should set strategic direction. Usually, PM will be busy with day-to-day work which leaves BD to accept product strategy responsibility.

Some of the last thoughts were – BD plays a huge role even in consumer businesses, because, selling to consumers are equivalent to selling to little businesses. PM should own product vision and strategy. Be cautious about BD roles in big companies since they may turn into Account Manager type of roles.

Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah is a Principal Product Manager at RSA, Revolutionizing Cyber Security through (big data) Web Session Intelligence.With 11 years of PM and engineering experience, she has successfully launched several enterprise products. Her interest is in big data enterprise market. She can be contacted at: pushpa_nc@yahoo.com, http://www.linkedin.com/in/pushpa