Overcoming the B2B Conflict: Aligning Customer Focus with Strategic Goals

Traian Kaiser
2 min readFeb 6, 2024


In B2B product development — especially where there are few, larger target customers — a constant conflict exists between customer focus and strategic goals. On one side are sales, support, and other customer-facing teams, driven by quick wins and individual objectives, pushing for customized solutions and immediate results. On the other side are product and development teams, striving to implement long-term strategies and relying on standardized features and scalable architectures. This discrepancy often ends in a “us versus them” battle, leading to latent dissatisfaction among employees and long-term failure.

The Dilemma of Constant Opportunities and Minor Adjustments

The hoped-for outcomes of strategic developments are initially theoretical. In contrast, current, tangible opportunities (customer acquisition) are very real. Therefore, decision-makers tend to seize these opportunities. Each request for a tweak might seem small in isolation — a simple optimization here, a unique integration there. However, the cumulative effect of these short-term successes can negatively impact long-term health and success. Resources are allocated to requirements with little impact, product complexity skyrockets, as do the subsequent costs for maintenance and support. Meanwhile, time is lost against market developments or technological advancements, building up technical or product debt.

The more extensively opportunities are pursued, the more extreme the effects. Eventually, product and development teams operate only reactively. Product development stalls, innovation ceases, and products become vulnerable to competitors’ alternatives. If this process is not quickly reversed, the product ends up in a strategic dead end, from which rescue is nearly impossible.

Turning a Systemic Problem into an Advantage

Since competitors face the same problem, the only sensible solution is to adopt an approach that solves this systemic issue. For this, several aspects need to be adjusted:

  • Business and Product Leadership recognizes the systemic nature of the problem and adjusts expectations and performance measurement accordingly.
  • Goals and bonuses should reflect the common long-term corporate goals. Employees and teams — including sales — should be rewarded for pursuing goals along strategic objectives.
  • Not just opportunities, but also the opportunity costs are considered. The financial impact of individual versus standardized solutions or working on alternative scenarios is evaluated, leading to a preference for strategically valuable opportunities.
  • Alternative ways to satisfy customer needs are sought. Utilizing interfaces and collaborating with complementary partners or service providers for specific and individual customer requirements could be such solutions.
  • Positive and effective relationships between various teams and stakeholders are actively promoted and supported by all levels of management.

By bridging the gap between customer focus and strategic vision, B2B product development can achieve a strategic advantage. It’s not about neglecting customer needs but about finding sustainable solutions that benefit both individual customers and the long-term success of the product.



Traian Kaiser

Experienced Product Leader supporting aspiring and new-baked product leaders to succeed in action.