This week on Product Marketing Life we’re joined by Tamara Schebel, VP of Product at Klue. Tamara shares insights, examples of success, and foundational tools on where and how you should start building the right competitive enablement program that fits your company stage, plus top tips for PMMs embarking on their CI/CE journey, and more.


Full transcript:

Mark Assini  0:03

Hey everyone and welcome to the Product Marketing Life podcast brought to you by the Product Marketing Alliance. My name's Mark Assini, Product Marketing Manager at Jobber.

As part of this series, we're connecting with PMMs all over the world about various product marketing topics. Today I'm joined by Tamara Schebel, VP of Product at Klue. Tamara has over 20 years of experience defining, creating, and launching products.

Her background is in web development, user experience, and visual design. While not a product marketer by trade, over the last three years Tamara has spoken to hundreds of product marketers and competitive and market intelligence practitioners to better understand their needs and solutions.

Now, if you've done any research into competitive intelligence or enablement, you've almost certainly heard of Klue. Klue with a K is a competitive enablement platform for the modern enterprise. Using Klue product marketers and enablement teams leverage curated intel from inside their company and across the web to create insights delivered in real-time to the field.

Salespeople get access to relevant, digestible competitive insights inside the tools they use every day. Klue has over 75,000 users and received 54 G2 badges in 2021 alone, including best support enterprise, momentum leader, high performer enterprise, leader enterprise, and easiest to do business with enterprise.

Tamara joins me today to share insights, examples of success, and foundational tools on where and how you should start building the right competitive enablement program that fits your company stage. When it comes to competitive enablement and competitive Intel, it's not a one-size-fits-all, but it's also never too late.

So what exactly should you be doing based on where you are as an organization? How do you create a snowball effect of starting with a few insightful CI tactics that will grow and scale with your organization? Tamara is about to tell us.

Alright, with that out of the way, let's get into it. Hi Tamara, thanks so much for joining.

Tamara Schebel  1:40

Hey, nice to be here, Mark.

Mark Assini  1:42

Awesome to have you. Before we get into the meat of our conversation today, can you give our listeners a better understanding of your career journey so far, and what it is you do at Klue?

Tamara Schebel  1:51

Oh, boy. Lengthy career journey and very convoluted. But I started as an architect, my parents would still love me to actually use that to pay for something which means my journey into tech actually started on the design side.

I learned to code many, many, many years ago, I got into development for a while. And it was at a company where I started as employee number one and we got up to 900 people. Through all of that, I was notorious for forming little startups within the larger org.

Kept starting these new initiatives and forming little teams to prove out new models and things. Kind of was always in startup land for a very, very long time. At some point that job became product management, a title that really didn't exist, as anybody who's been in product management for a very long time, will tell you, it wasn't a role. This means that about three years ago when I moved into Klue, it was just the right fit for me.

Klue was a very early stage startup, 18 people when I joined, and I came in to head up both customer success and product, which was an awesome combination, meant that I was in front of customers all the time, also guiding the product team, which is a really nice synergy when you can do it in a smaller org.

But have since transitioned full time into the product organization running the product team, we've brought in somebody with much more customer success expertise to run our CS team but still spend a tonne of time with our customers and our customers largely being competitive intelligence analysts or more commonly, product marketers who are spending their time on compete programs. So lots of time spent talking with them, understanding their problems, their journey through creating compute programs.

Mark Assini  3:37

That's incredible. Thanks for sharing that. I think one of the reasons why I was so excited to have you on today was that typically we talk to product marketers, we don't often talk to people who talk to other product marketers for their job.

So you've got a lot of insight from the other side of the conversation, which I think our listeners will really appreciate. I also think it's fascinating, as you're talking there about how when you came into the role, product management as a role didn't really exist, you just absorbed the responsibilities and it became defined as you went along.

I feel like that's an experience a lot of product marketers experience over time, they get thrown into an org, where product marketing might not necessarily be a thing at that given time. But slowly as the organization grows, and the position across different industries and across companies grows, it becomes defined. I think you'll have some interesting insight into that experience as well, which I'm sure our listeners will appreciate.

Tamara Schebel  4:25

That's a good point. Yeah, similar trajectory. It's that sort of I wear all hats role, right? We've got all these jobs that need to get done. When can we get to do them? Call them product something.

Mark Assini  4:34

Exactly, put the word product in front of it, people will get it if we do that.

Tamara Schebel  4:37

Totally. It'll sound really important, and you'll get all the stuff nobody else wants to do.

Mark Assini  4:42

Exactly. Well, it's funny you say that too because you talked about when you started at Klue you were doing customer success and product and that's something that interacting with customers, noting that experience a lot of again, product marketers are often passed at the beginning.

But then as organizations mature, some of those things get sliced up, which is great for someone such as yourself or other product marketers where you get to kind of choose the area that you like best and really pursue that.

But then like you said, you let the experts in those other areas come on board and take those things over. Just give you a little bit more breathing room, which I'm sure you appreciate it and I know a lot of other marketers appreciate as well.

Tamara Schebel  5:15

Yeah, absolutely. And actually, that's something I noticed wasn't on our list of questions to talk about but something I've seen that's really interesting with product marketing particularly is that we spend a lot of time talking about who is the person that should be working in our platform as the curator who's creating compete materials?

And it's largely been product marketers, but as we see compete evolve and grow as a program, you start to see a lot of segmentation and product marketers morphing into more focus roles on competitive intelligence, for example.

While others move over and they're focused more on go to market or on product launches, or other aspects of product marketing. So, yeah, we really are starting to see that sort of segmentation, specialization.

Mark Assini  5:55

Absolutely. So we've got a couple of different topics I want to talk about. But I think one of the areas that we really want to dive into is this sense of the maturity of your organization and how that plays into how that organization approaches competitive intelligence or competitive enablement.

What would you say in your opinion, defines the maturity or stage of a company? And when it comes to competitive intel and enablement, specifically?

Tamara Schebel  6:23

Yeah, that's actually a super interesting topic for us and one we've actually spent a lot of time on recently. The Klue team, not myself but the rest of our super-smart folks, worked with a bunch of our customers recently, and actually created a competitive enablement maturity model that addresses just this question.

They actually identified five stages of maturity across a bunch of dimensions, but they include your objectives, resources, processes, technology, and KPIs. Most companies have bits and pieces of these dimensions when they come to see us. In one of them, they're at very early stages, and in others, they might be quite mature.

But they aren't truly into the next stage of maturity until they've met all of the criteria, which makes this maturity model a really powerful tool, not just for assessing them and benchmarking where somebody is, but helping to create that prescriptive playbook, or blueprint that helps them operationalize and move their program through these stages.

This is why we often talk about a competitive enablement program, and not just a CI tool or a platform. Our model goes from ad hoc, which is really largely where most folks start, and almost everybody who comes in and joins us is in some form of ad hoc and goes all the way through a transforming stage.

But we see other than the big, large enterprise companies, most folks are really at the beginning of their journey. And even within that, I found it interesting from a product perspective, I talk to all our curators, our product marketers as they come in, and there are different stages, even within that first ad hoc stage. They start often in this really not formalized way, people tend to slip into CI over time.

And so I see, especially product marketing, there's this little tick box item on their list that says, "Hey, you're in charge of competitive". And eventually, people realize this within the organization, and they start asking questions, what do you know about this competitor? Where do we find this information? And they find themselves in this land of, I'm just going and doing a Google search and trying to find the answer to people's questions.

Then they answer the question, and the next person comes and asks them another question because now you're the expert, and you do more Google searches, and you find the answers and you get them off and you're firing stuff off to your sales team or to your executive.

Over time, you realize this is not going to scale. This is not very efficient. The first realization is I need to get all this information together in one place. I just need to centralize it, I need somewhere to put it, I need to have some repository I can go back to.

So we'll see some folks come in and they're just at that stage, they're at that stage of I need to know where to put this information so that it's there when I need it and I'm just trying to enable myself. Then as they mature, they realize, well, actually, I could get a little more proactive about this, and when something interesting happens with my competitors, I'm going to let people know.

Big acquisition happens, their new product release, and I'm just going to get ahead of it and fire that information off to the rest of the team. They kind of get into this informing stage of let's pass some information through to the team, whether it's by email, or Slack or whatever.

Which often leads into, hey, we could create some assets and get ahead of this - battle cards or reports or competitive landscape reports start to come out of that, and we'll get those in front of the team. Then you realize, oh, geez, now I've got to keep those up to date, I need to keep working through this information and updating it.

Eventually, they grow into a more strategic phase where they're being very proactive and predictive. But we often see people in those first three, when they come in, and they've done bits and pieces of it. But what they're trying to figure out is how do I standardize this and put a program around this and what does best look like?

Mark Assini  10:15

Yeah, I think that's a phenomenal insight. Because as you were talking there actually, it's funny, a very similar experience that I had, in my most recent role when it came to competitive intelligence was exactly as you described it. Hey, you're a product marketing manager, this is your responsibility, figure it out.

Fortunately, the compete space has evolved and matured to such a stage where there are a variety of tools and opportunities to partner with external organizations to help product marketers with their compete program.

But even just the maturity model that you were referencing, that Klue developed, I think is an incredibly valuable tool, just to help product marketing managers understand where they are in that model and say, "Okay, well, maybe I'm just beginning" like you said, "and at least I now have a path to move forward, and to know where I'm at that next stage".

And identify "Okay, I'm at this next level, what do I need to do next? And where can I focus on? What can I improve?" Or they can look at that and say "Okay, I'm a little bit further than I thought I was. And maybe I don't need to worry about the stuff in the previous stage because I've actually already done all that stuff".

So yeah, if anybody hasn't checked out that tool I encourage you to go and take a look. Because I think there's a lot of value and again understanding where you are in that journey.

Tamara Schebel  11:23

I think what's really powerful is that most folks actually don't realize what best looks like, what's the best practice? What am I actually trying to achieve? Has actually been the hard part.

And that's the question lour customer success team gets so often is, if I'm doing this, is this good? And what should I be doing? What is the next thing? Because it's not even really often a question of, I haven't gotten to that, or I'm not ready for it yet. It's more a question of I actually don't even know what it is.

Mark Assini  11:52

You're 100% right. It's like you said, you can get requests, and you know if you're able to deliver on those requests, you're probably doing a decent job. But again, is it good? Could it be better? If you are maybe seeing an upward tick in competitive win rates, can you confidently say that the work that you just did is positively contributing to that?

And if you're a product marketing manager of one, which a lot of people are at a lot of organizations, you don't have that benchmark. So I agree, it's an incredible tool, just to understand what good looks like, which I think has a lot of value for people who find themselves in that position.

But on this topic of the model, and where you are, is there would you say a profile for when a compete program makes sense for an org? Is it ever too early or too late to start one?

Tamara Schebel  12:42

I mean, I would never tell anybody it's too late to do anything. No, that's it stop, stop what you're doing right now. It's too late. This isn't the place to look.

No, of course, it's never too late. I think it can actually be too early to operationalize something. I'm thinking smaller org, certainly, when I started at Klue we were 18 people and we had two people on the sales team, having formalized battle cards and a robust compete program and a person dedicated to it full time - overkill.

But thinking about compete, never too early. I think that's something that if the earlier you start creating a culture of competitive, the better you're going to be down the line as you try to formalize that into a program. I would say don't over-optimize too early, but it's never going to be too late to start actually thinking about it and getting a program in place.

Mark Assini  13:40

Often as product marketers, we're asked to start by thinking strategically and then to execute the strategy across a variety of topics. We as product marketing managers like to think of ourselves, as the very strategic-minded individuals and the strategic engine that touches different parts of the org.

But before we get at the tactical side of things, as it relates to competitive intel and enablement, where do you think product marketers should start when it comes to launching their own compete programs? Do they need to develop and define a robust strategy? Or can they just go right into it with the tactics?

Tamara Schebel  14:13

In my opinion, at the point that you start talking about it as launching a compete program, as soon as that comes up in your vernacular, or it's a concept you start talking about, you should probably put a plan together. You tend to slip into CI over time, in those early days, you're not actually even thinking about launching a compete program, you're thinking about how do I get this person off my plate, or off my to-do list, and answer their questions so I can move on to other things?

But when you start realizing that you're in this land of, I'm still doing these informal CI activities off my desk, but I need to actually grow this into something more robust, it's definitely worth not necessarily putting together a big strategic plan and sign up throughout the org, but there's definitely a need to sit down and just think about what your plan actually is.

Because there's a real opportunity to increase the visibility of both your efforts, those things you've been doing off the side of your desk, and actually formalize the work you're doing. Which will ultimately save you from that slippery slope of realizing that you just can't keep up with the requests that you're getting overtime.

The biggest part, I think of that planning that most folks seem to miss in the early days, as you slide into CI accidentally, is figuring out to your point what success looks like. It can be any number of things, there are lots of ways to actually measure your impact against CI over time, but you have to actually think about what that's going to be.

Because if you don't do it, nobody else is going to do it for you. And suddenly you find yourself two years from now with your boss going, what is it exactly you've done?

Mark Assini  15:48

Yeah, you can't really go into that conversation saying, "Well, I answered all these questions that I get all the time every day from people", your manager probably doesn't want to see a list of deliverables that you've delivered on, they want to see like you said what that impact is.

Often as product marketers, we talk about, especially when you're new to our organization, what are some of the quick wins and easy things that you can point to and say, "Hey, I did this, and it's contributing towards these goals are moving the wheels in the positive direction". I think a similar approach if I'm understanding what you're saying clearly, is to take a similar approach with your CI or competitive enablement program.

Obviously, you want to have a plan in place, but don't overthink it and make it seem like you have to have this huge multi-year strategy, where you're looking at all the different inputs and outputs and metrics you're gonna impact. No, let's just say what do we want to accomplish with this program? And how can we measure that?

Try and keep that relatively lean at the beginning and maybe as things get more formalized, and the team grows, and you're starting to see more of that value have a positive impact on things, then you can look at, again, evolving that strategy and changing as things go.

Tamara Schebel  16:52

Absolutely, yeah.

Mark Assini  16:54

Speaking of tactics then and getting things done and starting, what are some of the tactical programs and tools a company can start with, even if they might not think they're ready to actually dive into competitive enablement?

Tamara Schebel  17:05

Yeah, great question. The newer CI folks or product marketers who are newer to CI that I talk to you, the more surprised I am by some of the things that they actually haven't been doing. And maybe it's by virtue of spending three years talking to folks about CI, where it all seems really obvious to me and it's probably not, but there are some really simple things that I think can just help set people up for later success. First, there is often a goldmine of information sitting in your CRM, it's untapped by folks most often.

So at the moment that someone asks you to actually take on CI, go find out the current state of your competitive win rate. You alluded to this earlier. What is it right now? Don't let anybody come in and say, "Here's a list of battle cards we want you to build." It's usually a list of 25, or 30, and there aren't 25 or 30 competitors that your sales team is actually coming up against on a daily basis.

There's certainly 25, or 30 that your executive team is worried about and that's a different concern. But if you go and actually dig into that CRM data, and figure out which competitors the sales team is actually coming up against in a large volume of deals, and what their win rate is against each of those, you'll very quickly get a good picture of what your actual threats to pipeline are.

That tells you where you can make the biggest impact because moving your win rate a couple of percentage points against the competitor that's coming up in 90% of your deals, is going to have a massive impact on your revenue at the end of the year.

But if you're focused on creating battle cards for competitors that come up three or four times a year, it's not going to matter. That's a waste of time so let's not focus on those. Dig into that data, if you're not already collecting competitive information in your CRM and I will say, often either the fields are there and nobody's filling them out, or they haven't actually been added.

That would be the point to start. I do think sales teams aren't great at filling out that information because they've never seen any value from doing it. This simple threats to pipeline analysis can actually be the first key to getting them to care. If you can start to report on that information, then there's a reason for them to actually be filling it out. Great place to start looking.

The second thing is, something that I hear all the time from our customers is, how do I get my sales team to share intel on our competitors with me? How do I get them to tell me all of those great things? And sales teams are the frontline. They are the ones that are in deals with prospects against your competitors, they are the ones that are going to hear what's coming up, they know the truth of what your competitors are doing.

Each of them knows different pieces of information. It's not a holistic picture and where you can actually help them is in starting to bring that information together. If you can get them to share with you, you can start to be the one that level sets what is our understanding. But they're not going to just come in and start sharing with you.

They're busy people just like the rest of us. What you need to do is actually help them to understand the value you can provide. Simple things, go back to your CRM, dump all of your team's deal notes if they're collecting them if they're actually telling you why they won, or the tail of the tape information. Gather all of those, start to go through them, and summarise them.

Because again, there are little nuggets of information in every one of those and there's no holistic picture, typically, across the sales team. So what can you tell them from that information that starts to level-set their understanding and synthesize it?

And then the second thing is, if you don't already have a CI channel in Slack, or Teams, or insert a collaboration tool of choice, create one. Actually take all of the findings from your CRM information, from the notes you've collaborated, share all of those in there, and then encourage your team to add the additional things they're hearing. Start to create a dialogue with them.

Because your most important allies, as you start to build up a program is going to be your sales team. The sooner that you can actually engage with them and create trust with them, and actually create this culture of competitive intelligence, the more valuable your program is actually going to be.

Mark Assini  21:13

Yeah, I couldn't agree more with everything you just said there. There's so much around in product marketing, this idea of establishing credibility, especially when you're new to an org, you're the first product marketer it's how do you establish credibility? In the context of CI and enablement, I think you listed some really, really tangible and actionable opportunities for product marketers to establish that credibility with the sales team.

You talked about pulling the CRM and looking at the data. Data is not subjective, the interpretation of it is, but the data speaks for itself. And if you can go into that conversation with sales and say, "Hey, I did all this legwork, I ran the numbers, and this is where we're winning and who were winning against".

And maybe if the sales team is taking those notes to detail why we're losing it, having that, instead of just like you said, going and say, "Hey, I built five battle cards, look how pretty they are", it helps establish that credibility, I think. You also talked about gathering that field intel and creating opportunities for the sales team to share it with you and one another in an easy way.

I think that also establishes credibility because it allows you to show that you understand and you're willing to work with them and make things easy for them, but also that you speak their language and you understand the terms they're using, the conversations that they're having, and it just helps embed you in there.

The more embedded you are, I think the more credibility you're able to establish.  I think he said it very eloquently and very detailed. I think if there's one takeaway from your answer that I would encourage product marketing managers to take out of that is focus on that credibility piece.

Tamara Schebel  22:47

I think actually, on the flip side, what you shouldn't do, the worst thing you can do to your point is to create five battle cards from information that you found, that you think is the truth and fire those over the wall.

That is never going to win you that credibility, as right as they may be, they don't come across as being valid to your sales team. Down the road, as you establish that credibility, the information you find and distill will have more veracity to the sales team, but as a starting point, you really need to start with what they know and build on that.

There's one other piece I talked earlier about what measuring success look like and we have a number of ways that we help our clients actually measure the success of their program, but one that I think is really simple is, again, at the point where you say, "Hey, starting to establish a program", do a little benchmarking survey. Go to your sales team and get a benchmark of how confident are you in deep positioning competitor x?

Throw in your top key competitors, get a little benchmark number for that, go back to them six months later, 12 months later, and ask the same thing. That's the thing you can take back to your boss and go, "Hey, I bumped this up 20% through the work that I've done in pulling together these materials".

It's a really simple way of saying to your point, not just I answered 22 questions, or I built five battle cards, but I moved a metric. And yes, it's a qualitative one and it would be great if you could actually tie your efforts to win rates and revenue and actual stats, but you get there over time, start with something really simple.

Mark Assini  24:17

Yeah, absolutely. So I want to just jump back to something that you mentioned when we first started chatting, this idea that in your role you've been fortunate enough or maybe unfortunate depending on the perspective to have spoken with hundreds of product marketers, CI, and marketing professionals.

Can you share some insights on what you've observed in terms of what works well, and what should be avoided when it comes to competitive enablement? I know you mentioned just now, don't develop battle cards from your own insights and have sales collaborate.

But aside from that, what are some of the other things that people who own compete programs should look to do to benefit the team or that they should avoid?

Tamara Schebel  24:58

To clarify, yes, we have a competitive intelligence platform that we run at Klue and our focus has really been on enabling sales teams. There are definitely other CI tools out there that are more focused on strategy, use cases, and other parts of the org. So anything I throw out is mostly related to how you enable your sales folks.

They're the closest to revenue, you're gonna make the biggest impact there, etc. So I think the biggest things are to work with sales, don't push your sales team. That's one of the challenges folks have, you need to be really tightly coupled with your sales folks.

Sharing what you're seeing, and what you're hearing in the same places that sales already live, is core. There's no need to be creating some new repository on a drive somewhere that contains all your CI materials that nobody can find, or firing up another tool that they have to remember to go to. Help them help you by making it really easy for them to find what you're creating.

Staying away from TMI. I see this tendency, particularly with folks that are more analyst-focused, those people who are really great at deep analysis of what's going on. It's almost like writing a paper in university, where you've got to hit the 20-page mark before you can hand in your term paper.

More is not better here. This is not a place where showing your work and showing that you did all of this great stuff is actually going to add value. You can do all that work and you should definitely do all the analysis and figure out what's happening and then scale it back, less is more.

All your sales team needs are what's going to help them actually compete in the moment. They don't need the backstory, they don't need the history. You do for sure but they don't. As long as you can prove that what you are telling them is golden, it's truth.

Then making everything you share actionable. To the same point, how do they use this in the throes of a deal? How is it actually going to move the needle for them? It's really thinking about the types of content you're actually creating and the things that you're firing across the team and how they're going to use that. How does this help me?

Mark Assini  27:07

I think you're 100% right on that. I think it's product marketers we often feel as though we're the busiest people in the organization because we support so many teams. But I think if we take a step back, and we say our sales team is just as busy as we are. We might like to think, or not like to think, but we sometimes think, oh, well, they're just on the phones all day, they're sending emails, they're selling, but what are they actually doing?

That's not a perception that I have, but I've heard other people have that perception, just want to clarify for any of my sales friends listening that I work with. But no, they're just as busy as we are, if not busier because they're managing multiple deals and dealing with a lot of potential clients at any given time.

What I'm trying to say is, is in the same way that we as product marketers want to have the information that's going to help us that's simple and easy to act on. We need to do the same for our partners and sales specifically. I think you're 100% right. Don't overcomplicate things, don't try and be overly verbose.

Just say what you need to say, or give them the information that they are going to need to close the deal. And that's all you should be focusing on. Anything beyond that is not going to get used, it's going to be ignored. And you have to do it in the easiest way possible because they are so busy. Any additional steps that are gonna slow them down, they're just gonna totally disengage as a product marketer would, right?

Tamara Schebel  28:27

Yeah. And actually, to that point, to clarify I do not mean dumb it down. To your point about sales, my preconceived notions on sales teams, I would say that's the one part of the organization I've never worked in, despite wearing many, many hats over time, I'm not a salesperson.

I didn't really have a great appreciation for what sales folks did until this role. While I work with a lot of product marketers on what they're doing our other user within Klue our sales folks and we spent a tonne of time creating empathy for sales and understanding their needs and what they need to do.

Man, those folks are wicked smart and super motivated and super busy. The volume of work that they do and the things that they're doing, which I could not do, I do not have a leaning towards sales at all, is admirable.

So it's not dumb it down because sales won't understand what you're saying, or they need it to be really simple. That is not the message here. It is help them do their jobs, help them be super-efficient by giving them just the nuggets they need because they can weave that into a story. But they need your help with the facts.

Mark Assini  29:33

Yeah, absolutely. You said it perfectly there. I won't even try and improve upon that. They're smart people so you don't have to dumb things down for them. Just give them the tools that are gonna help them be as successful as possible. Awesome.

My next question here is, and again, this is more product marketing oriented, the responsibilities and areas of focus for product marketers, it's quite broad and competitive enablement and intelligence often falls within their set of responsibilities of which there are many.

Do you think product marketing should own competitive enablement and intelligence? Or is it something that sales enablement should own? If there is a sales enablement team. Should a dedicated CE person be hired to own it? Where do you feel that responsibility and ownership should lie?

Tamara Schebel  30:16

I think that where competitive intelligence or competitive enablement sits within your organization is actually less important than the actual skillsets of the people doing the job.

That said, I've seen CE as this like a quarter of my job off the side of my desk or product marketers, I've seen it live in product or roll into marketing, I've seen it live closer to sales. And all of those things have pros and cons because you're going to get a different lens, depending on where you sit. But I really actually truly think that having the right skill sets in the people that you task to do this job is more important than which team it lives in.

I see it as this really difficult combination of three things. We're asking for a person that's a bit of a unicorn. They need analyst skills, we talked a little bit about that, that deep analysis, and I see it just doesn't typically come from product marketers, but we get a lot of competitive intelligence analysts that we work with.

And they have a very different mindset, they come at it from a very different perspective. They're deep researchers and analysts. They come up with matrices and these Harvey ball tables and things.  I'm like, oh, my. Detailed, detailed analysis of the competitors and it's fantastic but it's a very deep analysis skillset.

I think that's required if you're really going to get into the nuts and bolts in the deep competitive program. There's the product marketing skillset, which is really more about interpreting that data, distilling the message, figuring out how to position yourselves against your competitors. So it's taking that deeper analysis and turning that into a message that's actually going to resonate with your sales team.

Then there is actually a sales enablement portion to this. You can be great at positioning, and you can be great at detailed analysis but again, if you can't engage your sales team, if you can't broker that relationship between your two teams, you're not ultimately going to be successful. I actually see that as being the toughest piece for most folks. Unless they come from a bit of an enablement mindset, that's not the first place they focus.

So you do end up in this camp, and it's not that anybody's doing anything wrong, but it ends up feeling like the natural thing to do, which is creating these materials and handing them over. That has not worked super well for most folks we've worked with, and it needs to be a much deeper relationship.

So I wouldn't necessarily say that means that CI should live in sales enablement because then you're kind of ignoring those other two skill sets that are deeply important. But you either need to work closely with your sales enablement partners to shore up that skill set if it's not one that you have, or you need to double down on that part of the role.

Mark Assini  32:55

I think that's a fantastic perspective to take on it. I think a lot of people who are either building out those teams at the senior leadership or leadership level, you're right, don't necessarily think of "Oh, well, we're bringing out a product marketing manager or someone in sales enablement, so they should own competitive intelligence or enablement".

It should be to your point, what are the skills of this individual that we're bringing on, or that we have in-house already, and do those skills align with someone who's going to be effective at stewarding - and I think that's the approach you need to take, here's - who's going to steward competitive intelligence or enablement.

Because I agree with you, I've seen it where someone owns it, and they are the beginning and end of those two things, and nothing outside of that is going to change their mind.

I think that's immensely gonna be less successful and effective than having one person maybe be the steward where they're ensuring that metrics are being hit or that milestones are being achieved. But it is a cross-functional team that's ultimately responsible for CI and CE. I think you've identified those three functional areas that build up the dream team, as it were.

Someone in product marketing, you've got someone in sales enablement or if the sales enablement function doesn't exist, at least someone in sales who can speak for the sales org, and then someone whether it's in biz Ops, or analytics, that can really be that hard analysis piece. If you can have all those things on one team, I think you're already on a good positive step forward.

Tamara Schebel  34:18

And if you can find them all in one person you're golden. You did ask the question of, is it a dedicated resource? Or is this part of product marketing? That's really going to depend on the size of the organization.

As we get into our larger customers, we've got 50-60 people doing competitive enablement and they're large teams. The smaller customers we're working with, it is still a portion of somebody's role and they're really like, "Help me! How do I scale this? How do I make this part of my job more effective?"

So it really will depend on where you're at. But if you are really truly thinking about a competitive enablement program, as a bigger and more important strategic initiative within the organization, which of course I think you should then it becomes a full-time gig very quickly. Somebody to your point needs to manage that program. And whether they're doing all the work or they're managing a team, somebody needs to shepherd that through.

Mark Assini  35:08

For sure. Awesome. Can you speak about how to scale the CE program as your organization grows? How do you recommend our listeners create a snowball effect of competitive insights and enablement? And what is the right time to consider actually, like purchasing a CI platform or partnering with a CI tool provider?

Tamara Schebel  35:27

I mean, I think this was my plug for get your CI program now but I do actually think there is a phase where it's actually too early for a tool. Where you can get going. You really need to actually prove the value of ci within your organization before it's time to try and implement something as big as a software platform throughout the org.

That's a big initiative and if you're already struggling with this being a quarter of your job off the side of your desk, that's a whole other project for you. So I think there are some things that you should probably have in place before thinking about it. You want to have lots of content being shared internally so you've done that job of creating that culture of compete.

There's a lot of questions coming inbound, people already are looking to you as the CI expert within the organization, and you know that they're thinking about compete and so it's time to actually create a program. And your PMM team just can't keep up with the demand, at the point where you're going, "Oh, my goodness, that's another question and I just can't deal with this anymore", it's time to start thinking about how you operationalize that a little bit.

If none of those things are happening, then putting a tool in place is too early, nobody's going to come to it, nobody cares, that you have this information. You need to create some demand before building out something more robust.

Even without a platform, there are some things that you can do to start operationalizing your organization. Serving up some consistent communications so something like a weekly competitive digest email, or post or whatever, that just keeps people up to date on what your competitors are doing. Battle cards just for those key competitors, those ones that were the big threat to pipeline. And then your challenge quickly becomes how do I keep these up to date? That's where a tool can start to come into play.

Then just starting to think about efficiencies with how you're collecting data and where you're putting it and starting to consolidate those things so you're not constantly going out and doing a new fresh Google search every time somebody asks you a question.

Mark Assini  37:32

Yeah, I think you're 100% right. It's not necessarily about going out and buying the fancy new CI tool. Obviously, the space is maturing so there's a lot of strong marketing and advertising in that space. And all those CI tools are trying to obviously generate business, Klue wouldn't exist if there wasn't a need for it, absolutely.

But I think you're right, product marketers, or whoever's going to own that compete program, have to take a step back and understand where they are and that level of maturity, which is, again, great to have the Klue maturity model in place to really have a way to understand where they are. Ask yourself, is this the right time? Everybody likes to have the new shiny tool because it's fun to use and you can play around with it, and you're spending your company's money so it's not your money that you're spending.

But just because you can purchase and partner doesn't necessarily mean it's the right time to. That's fantastic advice for anyone who's again, looking to roll out that program, because you really need to understand is now the right time?

Tamara Schebel  38:34

Yeah, you need to understand that it is work, there are tools out there that will absolutely promise you that they're going to save you all the time in the world and they have the automagic button that's going to do it all for you. That doesn't exist. There's no tool that can say, "Here's what you need to say, to win against this competitor", that's just not a thing.

So what we can do is help you become more efficient with the things that you're doing and give you that centralized place to keep information and we can enable your teams by making content available everywhere they work.

There are lots of efficiencies of scale there but if you don't have the great need for a more robust program yet, it's just going to become more wor than doing nothing. There is definitely a tipping point there.

Mark Assini  39:17

Absolutely. All right. Well, here's my last question. Typically I like to ask guests what advice they have for listeners looking to get into product marketing.

But since you don't come from a product marketing background yourself, instead of getting started in product marketing, per se, I'll ask you for advice on how product marketers can start their own competitive enablement program.

I know you've touched on this a lot throughout our conversation, which is great, but if perhaps you could maybe just summarise a couple of the key places that they could start that would be fantastic.

Tamara Schebel  39:44

Yeah, I think even before how you get started on your competitive enablement program. I stress that everyone listening should take a moment and think about what they've actually done the past couple of quarters or the past year that was related to competitive and chances are everyone has already started their own competitive enablement program.

They just didn't realize it. You're doing this work, whether you want to be doing it or not, it's happening. So now is a great time to actually take a few minutes, sit down and think about what you can do to set yourself up for success down the road.

If this is already happening, then how are you going to make sure that you're ready to grow because if you're in a growing work, and many of us are, the need for great competitive content will never be less than it is now. Only going to grow over time.

Think about what part of your role is CI now, how that's going to morph over time. And then back to those measures of success, what can you do now, that will help you when you look back six months from now or a year from now and realize you're doing way more CI than you are now.

But have a way of actually measuring the impact of those efforts. Whether you're putting a tool in place or not, or building a more robust program, o that benchmarking survey or look at your win rates against those competitors.

Think about what that measure is going to be for you in terms of success, and do it now so that you're not looking back a year from now going, geez, I wish we'd done something. I wish we had a way of seeing what our impact has been. I think that's actually the most important thing that you can do.

Mark Assini  41:16

Absolutely. Well, this has been fantastic Tamara, as someone speaking personally, who finds themselves in a situation that you've described throughout the conversation here, taking a competitive intelligence program that already existed to some extent, but actually trying to move the needle and evolve it into a full-fledged committed enablement program that's gonna be measurable, and actually drive positive impacts.

For someone like me, who finds himself in the situation, this conversation has been incredibly helpful. So I'm gonna listen back to this episode and take notes because the conversation got so good I wasn't able to as you were speaking here, but I think this has been a great conversation.

I really appreciate your time in coming on the show today and sharing your insights about this space, and helping other product marketing managers or really anyone who owns or contributes to their program to move forward and to make improvements throat.

Tamara Schebel  42:09

Awesome. Well, I hope it's been helpful to everyone else. It's been a lot of fun.

Mark Assini  42:12

Absolutely. Thank you. Like I said, thank you so much for your time today. If any of our listeners want to connect with you, is there a way that they can get in touch?

Tamara Schebel  42:22

Top secret. No, reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Mark Assini  42:27

Awesome. Yeah. Great. So much great insight in this episode today. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Tamara on LinkedIn, as she said. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I look forward to hearing the feedback on this episode and hopefully connecting with you again soon.