What leads to great new products? This is not an easy question to answer. Even with a bold vision and a passionate team, it can be challenging to bring a winning product to market quickly enough to meet customer demand. And it is certainly not easy for complex enterprise companies to do this work quickly.

You may have your own theories as to why this is the case, but here is what I believe: In most companies, the slow pace of innovation starts with a broken relationship between product and marketing.

Recent findings prove this point. In a recent Roadmap.com survey of more than 500 product managers, many cited a lack of collaboration and communication with marketing as the top reason for go-to-market fails. But the majority went on to say that they do not want it to be this way--the goal is to be more agile.

Most product managers aspire to go, go, go. But often, you find yourself bogged down in planning and communication issues--particularly with marketing. At times, it feels as though the marketing team does not truly understand your product or customers and you worry that the product will be misrepresented in the market.

If you are like many of the product managers in that Roadmap.com survey, you know that these issues are not for a lack of trying. More than 60 percent of respondents said that they do have cross-functional product teams in place--but the relationship for many is either tangential or nonexistent.

The good news is that there is a better way. If you want to be part of an innovative team, you need to be fully aligned and working towards the same goal: building and launching lovable products.

In order to do this, you need to align with marketing on:

Strategy

Everyone should have a clear understanding of the work you are doing and why. Before jumping into your product development work, take the time to create a strategic plan and share it with marketing. By getting everyone focused on the strategy upfront, you will save time later when it comes to prioritization and feature decisions.

Roadmaps

Product managers own the product roadmap. But now you need to share that roadmap with marketing. This will help them understand how upcoming releases and features will benefit customers--leading to more effective messaging. It will also help marketing understand how the work that is happening connects back to the strategy. In turn, ask marketing to share their roadmaps and plans so you can understand what they are working towards.

Customers

As a product manager, you likely speak to customers more than the marketing team does. So share your insights about the pain points users are experiencing and the features they are requesting. In turn, ask the marketing team for their take based on all the data they pull. Then create user personas and talk through them together.

Responsibilities

According to the survey, cross-functional alignment at launch is a big pain point--with two-thirds of respondents saying their company only manages launches "somewhat well." Get around this by identifying who is doing what and considering dependencies (what happens when the work shifts). By working with this kind of consideration, you are less likely to lose valuable time due to confusion and miscommunication.

Progress

It is not enough to meet with marketing for a few initial strategy and planning meetings. Rather, you need to stay in constant communication throughout the entire product development process. So hold regular meetings and make sure your roadmaps are always accessible and up to date.

Results

You will not go anywhere new without some serious self-reflection. So ask yourself, "How did the last launch go?" Think deeply about what went well and what you could do better next time. And be sure to root all this self-reflection in hard data--evaluating the results against the initial goals.

Innovation does not just happen--it takes proactive communication between product and marketing. When you can build this harmonious relationship, the flow of work will become smoother and faster.

This is how you create winning products, bring them to market quickly, and provide real value to your customers in the process.

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Published on: May 23, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.