[At the time of delivering this presentation, Holly Watson was Associate Director of Product Marketing at Sprinklr but has since moved to a new role as Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS)]
Go-to-markets require a lot of effort, and anyone who’s been through one knows it can be a super stressful time. As PMMs we know this, but for our stakeholders there can be misinterpretations and misunderstandings around the GTM process.
My name's Holly Watson and in this article, I'll be talking about a topic that's actually really exciting for me: Go-to-Market.
There's a lot that goes into Go-to-Market efforts, whether you're starting in the middle or starting at the very ideation, all the way through to launch. But even after launch, you need to nurture that product, build it, and grow adoption.
There are many efforts that go into it. I want to talk about that but put a little spin on it. We, as PMMs, talk a lot about our own branding, who we are as product marketers, and as a group have a general consensus of who we are.
But within the organization, the other teams that we work with, there are slight misinterpretations or misunderstandings. My aim with this article is to provide content for you to actually take home and use with the teams you collaborate with.
How can you start creating this similar nomenclature and terminology that your solution consultants, sales teams, and account success teams understand?
This Go-to-Market strategy I'm going to discuss isn't for you reading as product marketers - you understand it already - it's essentially how you're explaining your Go-to-Market to your primary stakeholders. That's a key takeaway.
About me: Sprinklr
I'm Associate Director at Sprinklr, which is a global SaaS organization. We root ourselves in being the world's first unified front-office solution for modern channels. We have offices, employees, co-workers, and colleagues all over the globe.
This requires consistent deep collaboration and good communication skills as we talk about our products, learn about new functions and features, but definitely as we're trying to enable our sales team and anyone customer-facing.
What department does product marketing work for?
This question has come up even in our own conversations. Is it marketing? Is it product? Do you have sales enablement?
These are clarifying points we want to be able to make so when we're thinking about our Go-to-Market strategy, we're thinking about how we are going to align it to our other organization’s priorities, and how that's going to drive value for their organization or their department.
How many teams do product marketing work with?
Another question that we might ask ourselves, and one other teams are probably asking as well, is: how many teams does product marketing actually work with or support?
Yes, sales enablement is primary and it's key. However, there are several of us in the organization that work and collaborate with our customers.
The customer is what really matters. Are our customers happy? Are they having a good experience? Every single one of us has the ability to influence that experience and it's not always just directly the salesperson or that account management person.
They have that one-to-one relationship but there are many ways we have to be able to collaborate with that.
There are a lot of different teams out there - all the ones we're working with, working for, and trying to enable.
What is product marketing?
How do we prove value?
- Is it through adoption, new revenue, retention, a combination?
- Do you have a team out there?
- What is it that we're trying to do to actually drive value for our organization?
It's rooting back into our Go-to-Market, it's rooting back into creating that same terminology for ourselves.
At Sprinklr I always like to start with a goal.
Start with a goal
When I get my team in a room when I'm trying to work with them on saying, "Okay, guys, we have this new product to launch. We're really excited about it, I want you to be excited about it, too", I need everyone to have this energy and have this drive. So what I like to do is root it in a goal.
This goal is maybe a bit broad, but ultimately our goal with Go-to-Market is to deliver the biggest return on investment.
It gives people this excitement, it gives them this clarity of, "Okay, I understand where we're headed with this project". It's not a special project. It's not something coming down from leadership, or we might see some adjustments.
This is something we really want to take from ideation and creation all the way through to launch and post-launch activities.
Root people to a framework
I have my team in a room and again, this isn't just product marketers and product managers, this is including my solution consultants, possibly some subject matter experts coming from different parts of the organization.
Regardless if I've worked with them in the past on projects prior, or if they're newer to the organization, I really like to root people into a framework that we're all familiar with.
I like to root and orient my team to this because then it's not my idea, Go-to-Market isn't a Sprinklr thing, they're not Holly's project plan thing. It's a best practice that's out there that again, we PMMs are maybe a little bit familiar with.
But remember, branding is key. If I'm able to root my idea in something that has a best practice, there's a little bit of validity to it, there's something that someone's going to believe, it's not just my idea, it's something again, that's an industry trained model.
I really try to have that conversation with my team so they can feel this is going somewhere, this isn't just another one-off project. But I further build it out...
Build it out
As part of the framework, there’s the strategy on the far side, execution on the other hand, and we want to essentially get all the way through this. But there are several tasks and several motions to complete.
What I also add from top to bottom is something from a little business to technical, again, just rooting people in what it all means. But I take it a step further, I actually go through the process and say who owns what, through a little bit of color coding and mapping.
I let them know that while everyone in this team is going to be a collaborator and contributor, we still need to have that one owner; that one person that's going to help us bring it to the finish line.
Product marketing is going to have and own some things, product management is going to own others, then there's going to be that collaboration when we actually bring it to marketing. That's really key.
In your organization this might be different - your color map might lay out slightly differently based on how your roles and responsibilities are falling out. But it's driving good conversation; it's driving good clarity.
It's understanding the relationship between product marketing and product management. It's understanding the relationship between your copywriters on marketing, your demand-gen team on marketing, what it is that you can do as a product marketer to set them up for success.
I like to use a framework to paint that picture and get them in the same understanding.
Three launch phases
From here, this is really where the rubber meets the road, we really start talking about our Go-to-Market process. I will share the common three buckets that we see: our definition partners; our limited availability; and then, of course, the big one - general availability where we get ready for the big launch.
Before I go into the granular with this, I will say I've been through several launches myself - big, small, ones that take quite honestly a year, some that take six months, and ones that are much shorter.
What I will tell you is we've worked with Go-to-Market strategies that are just an eye chart, a Gantt chart that never ends; all the tasks, all the details. While they might look great if you're an Excel nerd and you like that stuff, it's really hard to be agile with them. It's really hard to wrap people's minds around when to do it and how to do it.
We've gone all the way to the other end of the spectrum where we make super simple Go-to-Market, just a few little tasks that hopefully the implied name subject line is going to give enough context.
This process that I'm about to unfold really starts wrapping people's heads around how this whole monster cog of a wheel works together, how it operates when people come in, and what milestones we want to hit at each stage as we go through definition partnership, limited availability, or GA.
When we start with definition partnership, there's a lot of collaboration between product management and product marketers.
There’s a little bit more lean on product management, at least within Sprinklr, for them to understand what is happening in the external market, and what's happening within our market selection.
- Is it something that we want to build, buy, or partner?
- What are our competencies?
- How are we going to differentiate?
- What is the general pricing and packaging?
And yes, pricing and packaging is a collaborative effort between product management and product marketing.
You have to be able to understand what that is and how you guys are collaborating together.
This definition partnership phase is - I've got this idea, we see this opportunity, how are you formulating it into something your product or service is actually going to be able to sell? How is it going to fit in your current portfolio of items that your company might already have?
Of course, there is the prototype development, we want to build out our wireframes, we want to build out something our customers can play with, touch, poke around and tell us, "This doesn't work. This isn't how I interpreted this, I need to be able to integrate with some other function" or something like that.
This is really where you've got to grind through things and figure it out.
As you move from definition partnership, you're going to get into limited availability.
Product strategy - product marketing
Limited availability, again, is that partnership between product management and product marketers, but this is where messaging comes into the frame.
This is where that language in your initial pitch deck might be created. But you're still working with a subset of customers and getting their feedback, understanding what's working, what's not working, do we need to pull it back from the market? That's why definition and limited availability are this constant turning wheel.
You're going to have to work with your team to set various deadlines and various milestones that you want to hit.
But sometimes when you pull in more customers, you recognize this is not working. This is not what we thought it was going to be. Maybe it's actually working for one industry and not the other. How do you constantly iterate? How do you pull it back?
Go-to-Market is not a linear process, they tend to be cyclical, they tend to require a lot of reworking - trying it again, and seeing what sticks. When you do find this is working, this is good, we've got something solid, I can go to my sales team with confidence; I can go to my enablement team and tell them: "Here are some troubleshooting ways to work around. Here are some industry specifics that you shouldn't forget".
You're ready for general availability or that launch.
This is where you shift as a product marketer - something I really enjoy about my job - from that partnership with product management and lean more towards your marketing partnership.
How are you going to enable your marketing team so we don't end up as copywriters or we don't end up as landing page writers? But you're still enabling them to use your messaging house or messaging matrix, to actually create some really great activations that empower your customers and empower your prospects to want to buy your solution.
We actually use that handoff, a launch brief, ultimately, to transfer that information from our own setup to our marketing team. We're still working through what that actually means but it is empowering a lot of different efforts and motions.
They start leaning on us as product marketers, not necessarily as copywriters, but as strategic thought-leaders. That's the position that product marketing can really empower and be in which is awesome. But it doesn't end there...
Refine and iterate
I really want to reiterate Go-to-Market doesn't end on launch day. It's great, launch day is fabulous, we've hit the go button, we can relax. It's not over though, you still need to pull that through.
You need to understand:
- Who's adopting,
- Who's coming in,
- Who's purchasing,
- Who's becoming an advocate of a buyer that I can get case studies/stories from, and understand what's next.
Customer experience & feedback
You need to think about that customer experience and you ultimately need to create that feedback loop. This is a constant iterative process. You're going to be moving from GA products - not necessarily a whole product going back to limited availability, but maybe some aspects.
You can think of your release cycles. That's where you need to be thinking about how it comes back around and how you're training your teams to expect changes and updates.
It doesn't necessarily mean you redo your entire pitch deck, it doesn't necessarily mean that you redo your entire messaging house either, but it just means that you're needing to constantly iterate - it's never really done.
Thinking about the people I have in the room when I'm presenting, not only my product marketing counterparts but my solution consultants, and some of my SMEs from other departments that I'm trying to rally and say "Okay, these are the steps and milestones that we want to hit".
The various milestones we at Sprinklr have set include what we call a 'toolbox'. Similar to your marketing brief, that we as product marketers put together and give to our marketing counterparts, the toolbox is essentially what we work with with our product management team.
The product management team will help collaborate, they'll put all their understandings, differentiators, and competitive intel inside the toolbox. It is essentially a PowerPoint deck with all of this information. But it's a collaborative document between product management and product marketer so there's one source of truth for resources.
As a product marketer, I now have this tool to go into and deep dive and understand what the product is. This is super helpful. My product management team does not sit right beside me, they aren't even in the States, they're in a completely different time zone. This asset helps us conquer the different time zones and distances that're required to have a good communication tool when we're collaborating.
We also through the definition partnership stage, try to survey our customers and gain. essentially. an NPS.
- What is it?
- How are they feeling about it?
This helps us validate how we should move to the next stage.
Similarly, with limited availability, we try to survey our clients as well, ensure we're getting valid statements, and saying it's not my opinion as a product marketer or your opinion as a product manager - there could be biases involved. We want to look to our customers and our prospects to help us define if this product is really ready.
Maybe within general availability, we want to know there are a few things ready before that launch day, especially supporting documents and those training motions that have taken place.
Let's move into roles and responsibilities...
Roles & responsibilities
We all have an understanding now of what our Go-to-Market process is, but how are we going to collaborate across the organization to pull everybody together?
I mentioned earlier all the roles and all the functions: marketing, documentation, support, success, enablement consultant, solution consultants, pre-sales versus post-sales. We've got to enable them all. There're a lot of different teams and they've got different priorities - how are we pulling them together?
Think of it like an onion.
This analogy is something I use quite often to help educate teams on how we’re going about this and how we’re prioritizing and orienting different pieces of documentation to their role.
At the core of the onion are all the details of the product, the deep product understanding. As you further move out, there's going to be the sales team who doesn't necessarily need to know every single feature, why and how that API functions, why your AI is formulated the way it is, why that algorithm is putting this output.
Your sales team needs to know the general value statements it's going to give to your customers. So they're on that farther outside. This helps us to say, "this is the detail you're going to be getting", or at least we're wanting to collaborate with you.
I've been talking about who's in the room, we use the acronym SME which I'm sure you've used before, that 'subject matter expert'. Even pulling those subject matter experts into a room and trying to rally them over for a Go-to-Market or a project plan, there are still roles and responsibilities that must be identified.
The framework I’ve talked about is something we've been using to help define how we're all going to be working together and start defining those roles. This is something that I would not do independently, for example, I can't tell you as a solution consultant what your best role is.
Conversation, connection, and collaboration
Instead, this helps actually drive that conversation, connection, and collaboration. In the mind of your colleagues, they’re thinking, “I contribute a little bit, I've got skin in the game so I can actually feel like I'm going to deliver, my name is on it and I want to deliver and execute well.”
This is a framework for you to be able to look at and say how is it that I can start reaching out to my various stakeholders and getting them involved in Go-to-Market much earlier?
When you're talking to your sales team and saying, "I'm sorry, advocacy is still in limited availability", your salesperson isn't gonna be like, "Can I still sell it? Can I demo it?"
No, we want that same terminology, that understanding, and consistency. Because that helps you move forward, you're not having to constantly reiterate or put out fires that come up.
I really want to try to empower everybody when I'm in these meetings, these foundational kickoffs. I want to make sure that we're defining who's who, how we're going to work together, and what their roles and responsibilities are.
Who should be in the room?
Quite frankly, not everyone is in the room on the very first day. They're going to be pulled in at various moments in your Go-to-Market.
We have a lot of our enablement teams come in a little bit later. We actually have our solution consultants, because they're very valuable from a client feedback perspective and demo creation, come in pretty early with our product management team.
As I mentioned, work with your product management team to develop this, collaborate there first, and then go out to the rest of the organization and start understanding what other stakeholders you can pull in.
Help to educate and evangelize your Go-to-Market across the organization. Create that similar terminology across different departments. It's so valuable for us, as product marketers to really define who we are in the organization.
Be flexible. As I've mentioned, we've had very detailed Go-to-Markets, we've had very high-level Go-to-Market, and we needed to find this happy medium. That took a couple of years to figure out.
Learn as you go, be agile as you do it.
Product launches are of all shapes and sizes, you are going to have ones that last much longer, you're going to have ones that are a bit shorter, but they are this constant iterative process.
- How are you gaining adoption after that launch?
- How are you gaining and reducing churn?
- What are these processes?
They do require cross-functional resourcing, and oftentimes that product marketer is the one that's the point person - the one leading the efforts and coordinating it all.
I think it's a fun role to be in because you do gain so much knowledge of all the processes, but do lean on your counterparts. Be specific with them; they're looking to you as a leader, so be okay saying "these are my expectations and what I hope to have you deliver".
Of course, align with your team on exactly what the milestones are that you want to be setting. What are the risks and rewards of setting those milestones? And how can you really start facilitating those across your organization?
How to improve your Go-to-Market strategy
Our Go-to-Market Certified: Masters course will give you all the information and knowledge you need to up your GTM game.
Delivered by Yoni Solomon, Chief Marketing Officer at Uptime.com, this course provides you with everything you need to design, launch, and measure an impactful Go-to-Market strategy.
By the end of this course, you'll be able to confidently:
🚀 Grasp a proven product launch formula that’s equal parts comprehensive, repeatable, creative, and collaborative.
🧠 Gain the expertise and know-how to build and tailor an ideal product blueprint of your own.
🛠 Equip yourself with templates to facilitate a seamless GTM process.