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Ask the Talent Doctor – September 8th, 2019

Product Management vs Marketing

Dear Talent Doctor,

We can’t decide whether our VP of Marketing should be an expert in branding or product management.

A – The decision is based on two key factors:

1. At a minimum, marketing must support sales and channel with the materials they need to effectively sell your product.

2. Are your customers businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C)? Branding is much more important for consumers, less so for business clients. For B2B, product management is the critical navigator which researches the market and customers and makes decisions as to what to sell to who. Without it, a company can get lost pretty quickly.


Can’t Decide Qualifications for Key Position

Dear Talent Doctor,

We can’t decide what the qualifications for a key hire should be – the executive team is split in their opinions.

A – The reason you can’t decide is that the various stakeholders are projecting off their individual experience, each with a slightly different version of the position in mind. Sit everyone down together and review (flowchart) the current state, business goals, what you want this hire to accomplish, and what they need to know to be successful. Treat it as an equation rather than an opinion poll, and you will quickly come to a consensus.


Must Salesperson Come From our Industry

Dear Talent Doctor,

We can’t decide if a sales executive hire needs to come from our industry or not.

A – There are two factors for deciding whether a sales executive must have industry experience. One is knowledge of deeply complex products, the other is a great rolodex in the industry. If those two are critical, then an industry hire is indicated. But remember:

1. Hiring from across industries will give you a much larger talent pool of successful salespeople.

2. A great sales exec who sold in a similarly complex industry should be able to make the transition quickly.

3. Hiring for a “great rolodex” often disappoints

4. Most important is hiring a consistently successful sales performer from an industry that has similar product complexity and goes to market in a similar way as you.


Have we Outgrown our Organization?

Dear Talent Doctor,

We’ve doubled in size the past year – is our organizational structure still optimal?

A – You have probably outgrown your organization structure if you are growing that fast. A wise person once told me that organizational structures change at various employee counts – 25, 50, 150, 400, etc. What was optimal becomes a hindrance. He compared it to a grasshopper outgrowing its shell – first it fits, then its tight, then its sitting on the head like a hat. Grasshoppers, of course, molt without having intent. Organizations need to reengineer their structure and governance periodically to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.

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