This article is adapted from Kimberlee’s presentation at the Product Marketing Summit in Toronto, 2022. Catch up on this presentation, and others, using our OnDemand service. For more exclusive content, visit your membership dashboard.

Hello, everyone! I’m Kimberlee West, and I’m the Director of Product Marketing at Uniphore.

Today, I'm going to talk about how to go about aligning Go-to-Market (GTM) teams.

I'll tell you the story of how I went from being a team of one to leading a team of five and I’ll reveal what I learned along the way about the seven key factors that are essential for aligning GTM teams and driving growth.

Where it all began

So, let me tell you a story. I started at Uniphore in March 2021. At the time, the company had around 300 employees.

However, when it came to our Go-to-Market team, it was just me. The product team was fairly small, as were the customer success and sales teams.

As the sole member of the product marketing team, I reported to a VP of Product Marketing, Growth, and Field (weird title, I know!)

My role was to handle product marketing, which the company didn't fully understand since they had never had a dedicated product marketing team before.

The company had been operating since 2008, and product marketing was a haphazard mix of sales engineering and product team efforts. The company's focus was on having a strong brand story and digital campaign, with sales handling the rest.

Fortunately, someone convinced the company that product marketing was important, and that's where my journey began.

Fast forward to growth and change

By October, things had changed significantly. In just six months, the company underwent a major acquisition, and I also got to hire a team.

Going from a team of one to a team of four was a challenge. On top of that, change was happening all around us. The product, sales, and customer success teams all exploded across different geographies.

I now had a product marketing team across various time zones, supporting sales teams around the world. Meanwhile, I had to figure out how to align our GTM strategies.

The ratio of product managers to product marketers wasn't ideal; there were ten people on the product team and only four product marketers. On top of all that, the company had no clear structure for bringing products to market.

Despite these challenges, I thought I was doing everything right: I had hired a team, I was working with multiple stakeholders across the company, and I was trying my best to stay on top of everything that was happening.

Facing reality

In November 2021, I had a reality check. I visited our California office, where I met with the CEO. While he acknowledged that he saw some activity on the website and so on, he told me he felt that product marketing was "M.I.A."

You know the expression “sink or swim”? I was sinking. The problem with the sink-or-swim analogy is that it’s based on your own perception. You're constantly evaluating yourself based on your internal litmus test.

However, especially in corporate life, there are times when you may be sinking without even realizing it. You might be working hard around the clock, responding to emails, and getting work done, but still not truly making progress.

Instead of sink or swim, I prefer to think of it as life or death, but not in a morbid sense – more like in a video game (in case you couldn’t tell, I have kids!).

In a video game, you get multiple lives, and more importantly, there's an external indicator showing whether you're performing well or not.

This forces you to look outside yourself and look at the indicators that show whether you're truly doing what you need to do, working with the right teams, and driving growth.

Now, without further ado, let’s get into the seven things I put in place to build alignment for a successful Go-to-Market strategy so that product marketing could respawn.

The seven things you need to build alignment for a successful Go-to-Market strategy

What the Go-to-Market process looks like can vary a lot depending on your company’s needs and the people there.

However, it generally involves messaging, content creation, sales enablement, and campaigns. The problem with looking at it this way is that it gives a false impression of simplicity.

In reality, executing a successful Go-to-Market strategy requires dealing with people who may not want to follow the plan. The challenge lies in getting buy-in from sales, product, customer success, and leadership teams for your vision, positioning, and strategy.

That means the biggest part of Go-to-Market is the relationships you build. We’ll dig deeper into those relationships later, but for now, let’s take a look at some other key elements of successful GTM.

1) A hunger to learn

If you want to build a GTM strategy, there are three things you need to know: your market, your customers, and your competitors.

However, you personally might not know all those things. Your individual team members aren’t necessarily going to know all of those things either, and that’s okay.

Product marketing’s biggest strengths are its curiosity and its ability to carry out research.

When you’re hiring people for your team, your focus should be on hiring someone who is hungry to learn and understands that they need to look outwards to find the knowledge they need – they’re going to have to go and talk to people.

When I’m hiring, I like to ask candidates how they would position an e-commerce store, even if they don't have experience in that industry.

I look for a thought process on how they approach getting hold of the knowledge they need. If they use the word "I" repeatedly, that's a red flag because going to market involves working with other people.

2) Over communication and trust

The market is big, and sales may want to go after everybody. You need to make sure you focus on the segments that it makes sense to go after and make sure you clearly communicate that.

You will almost certainly have to repeat yourself because people will forget what you tell them. Over communication is key to getting everybody on the same page.

3) The ability to say ‘no’

You have to get comfortable with saying no, and that's going to be hard.

When I joined Uniphore, not only was I the Director of Product Marketing, but I was also responsible for partner marketing, industry marketing, sales enablement, competitive intelligence, and more.

I had to set up processes and structures, figure out what was being done before, and understand what products were being delivered and where we were successful in positioning them.