From topical questions around Coronavirus to the more run of the mill tools, sales and analysts queries, take your pick, edition #32 of our weekly round-up’s loaded with it all.

Got a question? Get it answered. Our Slack channel’s bursting with conversations like this and more every single day, get in on the action here.

Q: We are rolling out new messaging with sales pitches and need to train our sales teams. Beyond delivering the material, we need to make sure the teams are internalizing and using the new pitches. Does anyone have any tips and tricks for doing this?

A: Pitch-offs and certifications can be excellent reinforcement mechanisms for this. In terms of the pitch-off, here’s how Shawn Pillow, Director of Sales Enablement at Granicus, goes about structuring it:

“We have a sales manager or sales leader (ideally, the CRO) model the pitch and then walk through it more slowly, touching on the key points. Then, we have the sellers pitch back in front of leaders across the org as well as their peers. It’s important to engage their competitiveness, but make sure that the feedback is always constructive.”

You’ll need strong leadership buy-in for it to work but this is usually a pretty easy business case to make. Taking time to make someone more effective maximizes the remainder of their time, builds culture, reduces attrition (sales feel valued and that the org is investing in them, etc.), so we’d be surprised if anyone turned those perks down!

Q: Has your organization implemented an all employee work from home policy in response to Coronavirus?

A: This one was a quick poll and of the 42 product marketers that responded, two-thirds said yes, the remaining third said no.

Q: My team is beginning to scale larger than 75 people and I'm quickly realizing the limitations of Google Drive, specifically to provide my Product, Sales, and Marketing teammates hyperlinked pathways to any given file or asset we upload. What alternative hosting/sharing tools do you use in place of Google Drive?

A: These were the recommendations that came in from the community:

  • Guru
  • You need a wiki
  • Brandfolder.

For tons more tried, tested and recommended tools, check out our Product Marketing Tools of Choice report.

Q: I was wondering if any of you guys have any experience on what’s needed to get ‘in front of the analysts’. I want to get my company on the Gartner Magic Quadrant but I have never initiated the process before so I am not sure what it takes!

A: First things first, you need to get on their radar. This will help when Gartner are talking to people and also give you an opportunity to get feedback from them about the pitch and learn.

Then the next step is to contact Gartner and ask to schedule a briefing and get information on their evaluation criteria for that specific quadrant - e.g. global reach/customer base, roadmap/vision, percentage of R&D spent on your product, revenue, etc. Like with all these things, you'll get better traction if you're a Gartner client.

With regards to what it takes, the short answer is, a lot. We know an industry colleague who clocked her Forrester Wave pitch process (they made the leader section) at about 500 hours, but they did do most of the work and analyst courtship themselves - so if you have some support it might not be quite so overwhelming.

Here are a few more words of wisdom from Trevor Lyness, a Product Marketing Manager over at Recorded Future:

“Find the relevant analysts to your company and read their stuff. If you don't have access to their reports, read their blogs, their twitter posts, and see how they think and what they care about. That will tell you how to best message your company.
“Also, you don't have to start with the big guns. If there are analysts at smaller firms that cover your company, use a briefing with them as a practice run.”

Q: Could anyone point me to “industry standard” sources to get market reports?

A: Here are a handful of the suggestions that came in on Slack:

  • I look to trade associations where possible. If you're B2B, I like IHS Markit and IDC, especially for a high-level macro view. Their analysts will periodically publish debriefing calls and they get quoted in press releases. Gartner and Forrester are the traditional go-to, especially if you're selling into enterprise, but they are pricey. If you're focused on the US, you can also look at economic reports and Bureau of Labor stats for some high-level numbers.

  • Googling: "market size [market] filetype:pdf" can yield good nuggets from time to time.

  • If you need a high-level market size-Gartner, IDC, Forrester, Frost Sullivan, 451f comes to mind for the B2B tech space. You can also get some high-level data from IBIS or Statista (they aggregate.)

  • If you're in a big US metro city, the libraries often have decent business databases that can help you size markets if you're patient. Sometimes a good business librarian there can help you too, although knowledge quality can vary.

Q: Does anyone have any best practices for engagement when a prospect is in an extended free trial (60 - 90 days)? For example, should Customer Success be their point of contact or should it be Sales? How frequently should they reach out?

A: The consensus here is sales should be their point of contact. Here are a couple of bits of advice from fellow PMAers:

“It depends on your company's model, but I'd say Sales (SDRs if you have them and they're not a fully qualified lead, Sales reps if they're an opportunity worth pursuing). I usually base touchpoints on product usage to keep communications relevant and contextual + a couple of "how are you doing with product X" at the beginning and the end of the trial window. You can add some marketing automation to drive usage/engagement - and also so that they don't get bombarded with calls/messages from your Sales team.”

- Virginia Diego, Senior Product Marketing Manager at CARTO

“For an extended period of 30 days, I'd usually send an email after 15 (exactly midway through) days of the product usage, asking about how are they doing with the product and if they need any help to figure out any aspect of the product - keeping it simple without any commitment. You can maybe also add a video of one of your product features they haven't used but you feel might be relevant for them.
“Post this, assuming that it's still in trial, the SDR might be dealing with the customer. In that case, I'd not bring in a new face to overwhelm the customer and would ask my SDR to ring up the person and record his experience with the product. At the end of the call, the SDR might persuade the customer to buy the product if their experience was good enough.”

- Anand Vatsya, Growth Marketing at WebEngage

Q: What are the best questions you've been asked in a PMM interview? Or if you're a hirer, what questions do you like to ask PMM candidates?

A: Here are a few Gwendolyn Smith, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Litera, has used in the past:

  1. We’re releasing a new feature to a product in Q2. How would you launch it? (Listen for real anecdotes, real steps included in product launch and communication, maybe new ideas).

  2. Let’s say the rate card price for a product is $300. We want to do a special and offer it for $200. How would you communicate this? (Once they've responded...) Now, let’s say an existing customer that pays $300 found out. They aren’t happy and threatened their sales rep for a lower price or they’ll cancel. What would you do? (Listen for audience, message, tactics)

  3. The product team releases every quarter. You developed key messaging to promote the enhancements to sales and customers. It is getting close to the release date, and you found out the release is going to be delayed by three weeks. What do you do?

Q: How do you manage email preferences for paying customers? Do you treat them just as you would leads (requiring them to opt-in, etc) or do you handle them differently?

A: This will usually depend on the goal of your communication, but this is what we’ve typically seen legal teams be most comfortable with…

If the information’s about your current service (i.e. changes to the product the customer’s already paying for, migrations, service interruptions, etc.) it could be treated as an operational email and they wouldn't need to be opted in. Ideally, you should only really send operational emails to opted out people for really important maintenance periods/interruptions, not just to talk about product updates.

If the information’s about new products or services (i.e. upselling, cross-selling) the email should then be treated as promotional, meaning the customer would definitely need to be opted in.