Ensuring that your sales and product marketing teams are in sync can be tough! My name is Cece Lee, and in this article, I’m gonna show you how we foster a culture of collaboration between sales and product marketing.
Not just that, I’m gonna show some practical strategies for making this happen and I'm going to demonstrate how this relationship can positively impact your organization.
Sounds a little overwhelming, right? But don’t worry, I’m gonna break it down into a few key talking points:
- My journey to product marketing
- How we manage the day to day operations at Talview
- How do sales and marketing connect?
- How can we leverage resources?
- Utilizing data points
- Practical tips for making content discoverable
- Best practices for fostering collaboration between sales and product marketing
- Leveraging metrics and data
How can we encourage sales and marketing alignment?
The question we need to ask is: what can we do to give sales the tools to do their job? More specifically, how can we provide the tools, content, and intelligence they need throughout the sales cycle? That's definitely one key aspect where sales enablement and product marketing can really go hand in hand.
A crucial part of sales enablement is, how can a person sell better? It’s pretty much tied into the methodology. And that's how sales enablement can really come in with essential insight for marketing. A great salesperson is a great psychologist. They have to be keenly aware of buyer psychology. I don’t need to tell why that’s so valuable for the marketer.
How can we leverage resources?
For me, there are three levels to this. Obviously, PMA has a lot of great resources for how to help in terms of this topic, and they have a really great vocal community on Slack that is happy to answer all queries!
The second level is about reaching out to peers in the industry who have similar roles. The chances are you’ll find some new way of doing things that you hadn’t even considered. We talk a lot about mentorship in the corporate world today, but we tend to talk about this in relation to hierarchies. A question that needs more exploring is, how can leaders mentor each other?
The final and most important aspect of this is just ensuring that sales, leadership, and marketing are all aligned. I think that's really important. At the end of the day, that's our definition here at Talview. And the definition may be different at your organization.
As long as you're aligned with your sales leadership, you’re gonna be able to form really solid roadmaps within your organization. if everyone’s looking at different maps, though, your road is gonna be a lot less straightforward.
Utilizing data points
When I first joined Talview, the concern was really, how do I get content into the hands of sales?
That was really the original pain point. But when we looked at it from that perspective, we really had no data points. We needed to find a tool to really provide that first point
On a basic level, as a product marketer, the type of data we’re looking at includes:
- What is sales accessing?
- What search terms are they using?
- Are they finding the content they're using?
- Where are the gaps?
- What content am I missing to help support the sales cycle?
What we realized is we had a lot at the top of the funnel, but we're really missing that bottom-funnel content to really help our sales team. So for example, how do I manage a total cost of ownership question? I realized we simply didn’t have that content.
Another question is, how do you accelerate the sales cycle and contents? How can I help them find content faster? Can I help them to surface this content quicker and present it to customers and prospects in such a way that we're shortening the sales cycle?
That's really the holy grail! 🏆
How this can foster collaboration between sales and marketing
When I first came into Talview, the first pain point was, how do we surface the content? We were looking for something that was really simple. We didn't want anything over-designed. We needed something that could help our salespeople meet that first challenge.
When I do a search term, can I find the content? Because we have strived to establish a single source of content and training, that’s how we’ve really fostered collaboration between departments, because we all know where everything is.
Helping sales to locate the content really fosters smooth communication with them. We’ve established a cadence of meetings with sales. This is essential because without meetings you can’t have even the most basic communications that enable us to collaborate.
What is the positive impact of this?
Because we have something like enable us within the company, it really consolidates a lot of our conversation around that point. That's really helped us to really indicate where things are and how we go from there.
I want to get to a point where I can walk up to a salesperson and say, “Hey, John, I just noticed you're using this asset a lot. How is it resonating?” Or “Hey, John, what stats are you missing so that you can be a better salesperson?”
In that case, my conversation is no longer about the content. At this point, we’ve ascended past that and we’re talking about how we can help you in your day-to-day as a salesperson? Those conversations are an essential goal.
Practical tips for making content more discoverable
As a product marketer, it’s pretty much hard-wired into me to think from a buyer's perspective.
My biggest mistake from the beginning was that I wasn’t thinking from a salesperson's perspective, I was thinking from a marketing perspective of how I wanted the content to be represented.
I got that feedback very quickly that it was not going to work for sales. But where we have gotten it right is that we’ve shown the way to right the ship as soon as we realize we’re headed in the wrong direction! So, we quickly pivoted, and asked, “How do you look for content?''
This was a helpful reminder that keeping our audience front and center doesn’t just refer to an external audience, it refers to an internal audience too. We were working fast to try to get all the content up and we were really dismissing that critical step. And it's been really good.
We’ve really optimized the ability to search the capabilities to be able to search. We really made sure our descriptions and tagging were up to date and accurate. We’re always thinking about how we can make content discoverable for both internal and external audiences.
Since the beginning of the year, we have built a really strong customer advocacy program. We're able to send a link to a customer, and they can just record their testimonial, and we review it and approve it. When we first came in, all we had were case studies, and they take a long time to write.
Being able to have this functionality of sending a link and getting a testimonial back in literally hours from some of our customers has been so valuable. We then have this base content that we can then re-purpose into more polished marketing materials.
From a sales perspective, just being able to get that story out there and having someone else validate the value prop is just tremendously valuable when you think of that middle to the end-stage sales cycle.
We’re working with our CSM team and our sales team on what is missing. I think the next stage is we still think of it more as a customer testimonial, and we can use it as a sales reference. That's just one of the ways we’ve been providing sellers with the tools that they need.
Fostering collaboration between sales and product marketing
You have to develop a relationship with your sales team and your sales leader. It sounds so simple, right? But it takes a lot of effort. I meet with my VP counterpart every week for coffee. It doesn't mean we don't connect during the week, but it's a dedicated time.
We also developed a relationship with the sales team. It’s important to be able to maintain those personal connections. I have an open calendar/open door policy. I give them the opportunity to put time on my calendar. One of the key aspects for fostering collaboration is open communication.
Presentations and videos
We all know the pain point of creating a lot of presentations. Here at Talview we actually have what we call the master probate guide. This contains over 170 slides, and it's probably the number one content piece that is used.
You can also utilize videos as content videos. By providing sales - or any part of your organization– with the right product videos, you can really give them the tools to position the solution.
With both sales and product marketing, we’re always trying to make sure that we’re addressing customer pain points, right?
Knowing the pain point enables us to properly position the use case, right? But we can’t do this without customer feedback. It’s also a really valuable morale boost for your team. Never underestimate that!
Organizing and prioritizing your feedback
If you can end up with a library of testimonials where your customers are talking about why they selected your services, we can make it really easy to not only capture that voice of the customer but also make it easier for us to organize feedback.
A lot of the time we’ve got a lot of feedback, but the question is, are our team able to effectively access and utilize that information in order to properly position a product?
This is also where prioritization comes in. We have to be able to sort the high-priority feedback from the low-priority, and if that level of organization isn’t there, you’re going to make life much more difficult for your team.
Leveraging metrics and data
From a marketing product marketing perspective, we’re looking at usage. We’re looking at what type of content is being discovered and accessed but we're also looking at usage. What content are they discovering or not discovering?
We're looking at the search terms and highlighting what content we're missing. Take pricing information as an example. How do we get the pricing information into enable.us? But In terms of success metrics, the Holy Grail is shortening the sales cycle.
How to interpret data
But none of this data means anything if we don’t know how to look at it, right? What are the right ways to look at it? I do know, anecdotally, we have had a lot of usage of the deal room. So that's one thing we look at, who are we sending deal rooms to?
How often is the information being reviewed? How far is a customer getting through to content? One of the ways that we’ve utilized this is in how we’ve advised sales on their intro videos, advising them to cut them down and keep them shorter.
That's the type of insight we're doing to help provide feedback. We're trying to figure out what the key data that we need to focus on is at this stage of our growth as a company.
- If you’re only thinking like a marketer and not thinking like a salesperson you’re on a road to nowhere. Get into the head of sales and get intimate with their pain points. An organization is stronger when all departments understand each other.
- Synchronize. Are sales and product teams talking to each other? If not you’ve got a team that’s working blindly. Ensure effective collaboration.
- How are you utilizing feedback? Are you making sure that everyone can access it and make use of it? How are you storing and organizing it? Obviously, feedback is all about communication. And communication isn’t possible without collaboration.
My journey to product marketing
The way my journey started was pretty unusual! I started in communications and PR. Back then I don't think product marketing was really as established a discipline as it is today. When I started looking at marketing 8 to 10 years ago, I recognized a need to leverage that background.
I realized I had to really focus on our solutions, product messaging, and positioning. Obviously, PR is really focused on the user, so my background was really key in this journey.
It’s essential to keep the buyer in mind when you're drafting those types of collateral pieces and messaging in product marketing. Guess what. I totally fell in love with product marketing! Maybe it’s because PM really benefits from understanding your industry, your market, your buyers, and your competitors. This is something that was essential when I was in PR.
Product marketing really demands a holistic view of what we do. Product marketers are always juggling, and that is what I’ve really thrived off.
How we manage the day-to-day operations at Talview
We’re a global organization. The question is, how do you manage operations in the global sense with a team based in India, as well as a team based in the United States? That was definitely one of the things that I had to get used to.
Not only do you have to negotiate cross-regional interactions between marketing teams, but you also have to deal with sales teams into regions as well. We really have to focus on bridging those collaboration communications,
It’s about moving from a single market to a global market. When you go into this level of management, you have to have an understanding of some of the day-to-day operations.