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6 min read

Internal stakeholders and senior leadership: Are we all rowing in the right direction across product, marketing, and sales?


In every company, whether it's a Fortune 500 or a startup, product marketing’s success depends on internal stakeholders and senior leadership, and how they value product marketing.

With that in mind, in this article, I'll be sharing the lessons I’ve learned over the past five years on how to bring product marketing, sales, and leadership into alignment with shared objectives and key results (OKRs).

Before we dive in, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m Div Manickam, and I'm a product marketing influencer who has recently embarked on a journey to live a portfolio life. These are my life values:

  • Inspire trust and credibility,
  • Influence extreme ownership, and
  • Impact results and relationships.

I'm passionate about finding ways to solve the root cause of stress and anxiety with mindfulness and essentialism. Diversity and belonging are also very important to me. I recently published two books: A Broken Teacup, on my journey with stress and anxiety, and Fearless: Be the Authentic Leader you will Follow.

In this article, I’ll be answering the following questions:

Let’s dive in.

What does authentic leadership mean to you?

For me, authentic leadership means being your own true self and knowing that we are all human and we need to respect and care for each other.

During my time at Dell Boomi, I was inspired by our fearless leader, Steve, who was always there for his team no matter what and empowered us to be our best every day. This is the leadership style I want to take forward. If I‘m ever unsure what to do next, I just ask myself, What would Steve do? and get the clarity I need.

As leaders, we have to make tough choices and our teams may not always understand why we do what we do. This is where we need to be transparent and share to the best of our ability.

Our decisions impact their day-to-day work, and we need to be mindful and respectful of that every day. I'm privileged to serve my team and I will do anything to help them succeed in their endeavours.

How do you bring cross-functional alignment across product marketing and sales?

We all know that working with different teams is at the core of product marketing. As we collaborate with product, sales, and marketing, tight alignment is crucial, as is making sure that we communicate all our efforts so that there’s no duplication across teams.

We also need to consider how we can best amplify our core initiatives, on top of making sure that folks understand what product marketing can and cannot do.

It's also crucial to work with the broader marketing team so that we can focus on our core competency and stakeholders and other teams can focus on what they do best.

In one of my previous roles, a lot of what we were asked to do was traditional marketing, and it took a lot of time and effort to explain and educate where we could bring our best value and make sure we prioritized the right actions and resources.

How can product marketing influence the product roadmap and help with portfolio roadmap prioritization?

We’re seeing a major shift towards companies diversifying their portfolios as opposed to focusing on a single product. However, the reality is that our customers are looking to solve a specific problem. Whether the solution requires one product, multiple products, or a platform doesn't matter.

This is where I advocate for portfolio marketing as product marketing’s biggest strength. We can bring together products, solutions, and services across different industries and verticals.

As challenging as it can be, when you get the roadmap priorities right, you know you're off to a good start. I like to think of portfolio roadmap prioritization as the crystal ball that guides us to make sure we stay focused on the right projects.

Prioritization is where we make trade-offs and decisions on which projects we want to take forward and which we want to hold off on until a later quarter. This is easier said than done, but when it's done right, you know that all the teams are rowing in the right direction.

What’s the importance of OKRs for product sales and marketing alignment?

Because we wear multiple hats, it's important to know which hats add the most value – in other words, which metrics and OKRs can help us make sure that we’re focusing on the right priorities, roles, and responsibilities.

While some of our initiatives might be focused on soft skills and therefore not directly measured, proper alignment on KPIs or OKRs is critical for defining product marketing’s success.

It's important to make sure we have a good synergy across product marketing, sales, and leadership. That means we need to make sure our goals and objectives are aligned with the sales team and we’re prioritizing the right initiatives. We’ll never have enough resources to do everything, so having that lockstep is critical as we go to market.

I like to build our OKRs around my core values – inspire, influence, and impact – and the three pillars of success – the employee, the business, and the customer.

  • Inspire the employee
  • Influence the business
  • Impact the customer

This way, we’re taking care of the three tenets that make sure that as a business we’re doing the right thing.

As outlined by Div, it’s imperative that product marketers appreciate the role that OKRs and metrics play in short and long-term success. During her appearance on the Product Marketing Insider podcast, Rebecca Geraghty, VP of Product Marketing at Publicis Media, outlined how to prioritize product marketing goals. 👇

What does the future hold for product marketing?

Product marketing is becoming increasingly important. You’ll see that the first hire in new marketing organizations is now often a product marketer. Companies are talking more and more about the importance of Go-to-Market, competitive intelligence, buyer personas, messaging, and positioning.

Not only are all of these things great, but they’re also the recipe for successful product marketing. Mastering the art and science of product marketing is how I like to think of it.

Now, what would a rockstar product marketer look like? I like to think that this is someone who is empathetic to customers, stakeholders, and the team. We’re the voice of the customer and we need to bring forward use cases and business requirements just to make sure that we are aligned with all of the above.

Our focus is on driving customer advocacy and success stories. That's why we need to consider the buyer journey all the way from discovery to advocacy.

A rockstar product marketing team is a mix of great storytellers who can bring different narratives together and tell a story that will make us feel and move from a state of complacency to making change happen. This is the beauty of product marketing and what makes the future of product marketing so exciting.

You’ve seen how many product marketers around the world have come together in the Product Marketing Alliance community. We all have our stories to tell and we’re all here to make a change. This is what excites me when I think about mentoring the product marketing leaders of the future.

I believe that product marketing is undergoing an evolution. The role is now more than just messaging and positioning. We are working with different stakeholders and marketing teams across the entire customer journey all the way from awareness to consideration to decision. And it doesn't end there; it goes all the way to advocacy.

That's why when working with marketing teams, whether it's demand generation, your customer marketing team, or your content marketing team, you’re making sure you have tight alignment and are all working towards the same goals.

And then there’s product. As a product marketer, I work very closely with my product manager. When it comes to roadmap prioritization if you’re not in lockstep with your product manager you might be working on different priorities and not making the best use of the time and resources you have.

Then who could forget sales? My best successes have come when the sales leaders have been with me at every step. They’re here to make sure that we’re successful and we’re helping them be successful.

Product, marketing, and sales come together to make an amazing experience, and product marketing is the central linchpin. We have the opportunity to work cross-functionally and make sure we’re bringing forward the best ideas and projects.

There's a wealth of tools available to product marketers today, but the only tool with the power to bring product marketing forward is cross-functional alignment. It’s thinking about teams and opportunities together. I encourage you to take this step forward and start thinking about stakeholder alignment today.

Written by:

Div Manickam

Div Manickam

Div Manickam is a mindful soul and a believer in simplicity. Like an alchemist, Div loves the magic of bringing two worlds together. Sharing experiences on authentic leadership and product marketing.

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Internal stakeholders and senior leadership: Are we all rowing in the right direction across product, marketing, and sales?