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Product Marketing Questions Week #17

Trending Questions | Promoted Posts | Customer & Market Research

If we do say so ourselves, this week’s a corker of a round-up. In it, we’ve got stacks of tips around sales interviews and time prioritisation, buyer persona, user persona and nurture email best practices, and a few B2B SaaS marketing resources for good measure.

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Q: I'm finishing my research around buyer personas and I'm wondering if anyone’s participated in a brainstorm session to define the naming of each persona? And if so, what was the dynamic to get there? I'm planning a session with different stakeholders and would like to hear people’s recommendations.

A: In reality, the names really don’t matter all that much - it’s the research and substance that’s going to make or break things, so the key here is to keep it simple. A couple of suggestions include:

  • The name of one of the people you actually spoke to. So, for example, if you interviewed a chap called Bill and he personified everything that persona stands for, just call the group Bill. It’s easy, it’s memorable, and what’s more accurate than one of your real-life interviewees?

  • A prominent trait from within the persona. For example, let’s say you’re an online counselling company and a key part of your personas is that some are introverts and some are extroverts. Just call them introverts and extroverts. Again, this one’s really straightforward and also ensures important aspects of the persona don’t get lost.

Q: Does anyone have any advice on how to create nurture emails? We are trying to convert accepted leads to hand-raisers for a demo and I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts or best practices?

A: This is all totally dependent on a lot of things (i.e. your product, sales cycle, industry, type of lead, how they’ve already interacted with you, etc.) but as a bit of catch-all advice, we’d recommend including some form of really rich content that unarguably illustrates your quality, authority and value. Now that could be a whitepaper, video, webinar, template or other, but the consistency across either medium is that it’s got to leave the prospect thinking “wow, this company knows what they’re talking about.”

If you can, it’s definitely worth going granular and segmenting your leads based on the information you have on them too. For example, if 20% of your leads came into your pipeline after downloading a guide on ‘How to remortgage your home’, a follow-up piece of content around a remortgaging calculator or remortgaging checklist is probably going to be right up their ally.

Q: Does anyone have any tips on building user personas?

Here are a few tidbits of knowledge that came in on Slack:

  • Consider a longer timeframe than you would with buyer personas. For example, if you’re asking a user about their goals, ask them to elaborate on what they were when they first signed up with you, what they are now, and what they’ll be next year.

  • Try to speak to churned users too. Although they might be trickier to pin down, the info you get off them can be invaluable in understanding how to prevent more churns in the future.

  • Work your way backwards. By that, we mean start by understanding what it is you want and need to create a killer persona and then brainstorming the questions you need to pull that kind of information out of people.

Q: I’m planning on interviewing 2-3 members of the sales team to gauge what messaging is/isn’t working and also understand first-hand how sales operate, to better deliver content. Does anyone have any best practices or good questions they like to ask when conducting interviews with sales, especially Account Execs?

A: Lots of great advice came in for this one:

1. By default, sales reps often fall into the habit of talking about their last sale or loss, so, throughout your interviews, make a conscious point of pulling out examples from previous conversations.

2. The five whys technique works just as well with sales as it does with customers - if you’re not familiar, you can brush up on what it’s all about here.

3. Pay particular attention to which two to three sales reps you talk to. If you want to gather representative and actionable data, aim to speak to one who’s overly positive, one who’s overly negative, and one who’s neutral. Then, group responses and if needed, put separate plans in place for each.

4. Be very specific in terms of a) which content you want feedback on and b) where you want their answer to take you. And remember, open-ended questions are your friend - “Can you tell me about a time when…”, “Can you explain why this…”, “Can you describe how you…”, etc.

5. Don’t just interview your reps. Yes, they’re a great source of intel but you also run the risk of racking up a lot of bias answers. To rule out any misleading findings, get stuck in with some call listening too.

Q: I'm a relatively new PMM and an individual contributor for a fast-growing B2B SaaS company. I'm at day 60 in this role and I’m getting pulled in many different directions, does anyone have any recommendations in terms of how to best prioritize my time?

A: Without wanting to repeat ourselves, there was lots of fab support on Slack for this one too! If it’s not broke don’t fix it so without further ado, here’s exactly what fellow PMMs recommended:

“Does your business align to OKRs? In terms of prioritizing work and taking on new projects, aligning everything you do to an OKR can be super helpful. If it doesn't align or influence an overall objective of the business, kick it or put it toward the bottom of the list. Projects with high impact to an OKR get prioritized higher.”

- Rachel B

“I recommend help painting the vision for your leaders and the rest of the organization. Take the time to plot out what work is on your plate, what you think the priorities should be, how much time each will take, and what can't get done because of that. Bring that to your leadership and if it's not in line with what they think the priorities are, then they can help you re-prioritize your time.”

- Sapphire Reels, Product Marketing Manager at Pluralsight

“Never, ever do work for a single customer or salesperson. You have to enable a channel, not an individual. There will be exceptions, of course, but use them very wisely.”

- Donato Mangialardo, CMO at Giunti Psychometrics

“This is one of the most challenging parts of the role, but also what makes it so fun. I 100% agree with OKRs as the true north and at the end of the day, it should all tie back to how you are driving revenue.
“I used to keep a pie chart of our key markets for my product by revenue goals on my whiteboard to remind me where to focus time. We get so many requests from so many departments every day, it is okay to say no if that means prioritizing work that will lead to greater reward.”

- Lauren Culbertson, Co-founder & CEO of LoopVOC

Q: What's a good, current and comprehensive source of learning all about B2B SaaS marketing?

A: This book came recommended on Slack: Technology-As-A-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business, and here are a few resources we dug out online:

Written by:

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Bryony's the Head of Content here at Product Marketing Alliance and you'll find her behind most things written!

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Product Marketing Questions Week #17