We’re living in unprecedented times - thankfully product marketing has weaved its magic and kept a smile on our faces for another week! 😊

With a whole host of enthralling insights on the PMA site, as well as the first steps towards the Sales Enablement Landscape Report 2020 (make your voice heard HERE 👈) we’ve headed into this week with a spring in our step.

So, without further ado, let’s check out the ever-impressive contributions from the Slack community.

Are you a part of the Slack community? The channel is your golden opportunity to feast on all things PMM, alongside 1,000s of product marketers, prompting the million-dollar question: what’s not to love? Check out what you’re missing here >

Q: As I pivot my marketing experience into a product marketing role, I have a job interview possibility where I need to first submit examples of my work demonstrating my ability to develop/execute go-to-market plans. As I am new to this when they say my “ability to develop/execute” are they wanting me to submit my actual GTM plans?

A: It’s not uncommon to be asked for a portfolio when you’re going for a new job, even more so when transitioning into a new industry, to gauge your understanding of the industry.

“Generally, yes, although they mean the GTM plan specific to products rather than something else more in marketing in general.”

Martin Bakal, Product Marketing Director and Evangelist at OpenLegacy

“I would say they want to see your work that shows both the planning and execution of your GTM. If you have a GTM strategy, you can share it, but keep in mind you don’t necessarily need to share the whole thing.

“Only showpieces that apply to the role you’re interviewing for and more general things. You also may want to share the execution part of the plan, such as a datasheet, video, web content, webinar, etc.

Robin Verderosa, Product Marketer at Fintechs

Product Marketer Harshit Jain also gave his opinion, adding:

“They want to evaluate how you thought through your entire GTM plan and want to see how you built that story.

“For instance, you launched your product in Healthcare. Then your GTM should explain why Healthcare was chosen in the first place, which segment in healthcare and why, which audience in healthcare and why, which demand generation channels and why, who were the most important competitors and why etc.

“Explain how: how you rolled out or action was taken once you figured out the why? Then, explain the results and learnings of the entire plan.”

Q: Can a product feature also be a benefit? I'm running into an issue where something we've called a product feature also happens to be the benefit.How do you talk about it? Or, is this impossible and it either has to be a feature or a benefit?

A: Providing a clear-cut insight into product features and benefits is imperative when bringing a product to market. Therefore, you need to categorize them, accordingly.

“From my experience, while they're different from a definition perspective, sometimes messaging doesn't necessarily need to be benefit only.

“For instance, my target audience is highly technical so sometimes a feature like "SDK in [programming language]" is seen as a benefit -- we don't need to spell out the benefit (accelerated integration) because it's abundantly clear to our audience.”

Jing Gu, Product Marketer at Shutterstock

“If your feature is real-time visibility, which I'm assuming it's a live dashboard with metrics, possible ways to position the value could be: Make decisions faster, ensure that your data is synced, so you don't need to wait for 24-hours to analyze it, have more control.

“Yesterday was old news. You want to know what's happening today. If this is a benefit that your customers care about a lot, try asking them why this is so important. Then, ask ‘why?’ a few more times to get to the root of it.

“The answers should help you better position the value of this specific feature.”

Thiago Neres, Product Marketing Manager at Vendasta

“Benefits should always be tied in some way to a business outcome (saving time, saving money, reducing risk, increasing efficiency, etc). They connect the dots between features and needs.

“If you're not sure of the connection, continually ask those ‘why?’ questions to get to the root of it.”

Leah Langston, Product Marketing Manager at Zapproved

Q: Has anyone had issues with the sales team ignoring or deviating from sales enablement materials? I have all these slide templates and one-pagers, competitive battle cards, and playbooks, but I find Account Executives either consistently ignore them or create their own messaging for some reason. The Sales Development Reps are good about it though. Any thoughts or advice?

A: Sales enablement assets are crucial in helping your sales reps work to their potential, but they need to pull in the same direction and utilize the tools properly.

“This is a common problem. You have to find out where they go to source alternative resources; is it the Wiki page, a Google Drive folder, their folder?

“Another thing to keep in mind is that sales enablement is not just documents. Training them is one of the most useful ways to get them to apply what you've learned. This means presenting to them, educating them, providing them Slack updates, attending their meetings, etc.”

Dekker Fraser, SaaS Product Marketing Consultant

“I've found that when you hit 50 sellers, the amount of content you have for them multiplies in complexity and volume, making it hard for them to find it, train to it and use it in context of deals.

“For us PMMs, it feels as though they are ignoring it when in reality they just don't know it exists, can't find it, or don't know/remember how to use it.”

Jonathan Hinz, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Seismic Software

“Sometimes it can be a case of starting with a refresh and 1) establishing trust and validity with the team 2) providing them with really valuable content to show the value of PMM, then scaling out based on that trust.

“My recommendation would be to survey the teams to identify gaps (getting engagement may be an issue if they're currently not engaged, but I would make engagement a sales leadership issue, put pressure on them to ensure their teams respond, even gamifying it between AE leadership and SDR leadership - this always works), then starting with a specific, timely, valid piece of enablement e.g. battle card on a new competitor they know nothing about that will help them win, then reintroducing the existing sales enablement program, tweaking if needed based on survey feedback.”

Fiona Finn, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Unbounce

“The best way to get sales to use your marketing materials is to involve them early and often when you are creating your product message strategy. If they feel they've had their say in creating the message strategy, then they are much more likely to use the marketing content that is based on the message strategy.

“Also, seek input from sales as you develop marketing content. They are on the battlefront so they know what will work and what won't.”

Lawson Abinanti, Vettd Evangelist

Q: I am currently a Product Specialist looking to transition. My supervisor told me I need to develop better strategic thinking skills. Any tips on how to do that? We do weekly goal meetings and we have goals written on a spreadsheet. I have a hard time reading them and thinking about the bigger picture.

A: The ability to think strategically is considered a key trait for any product marketer; like any skill, with hard work and application, it’s a skill that can be honed and developed.

“You could start by thinking at the tactical level if that's most familiar to you and then thinking about how elements level up to things that will move the needle from a business priority/revenue perspective.

“For instance, perhaps you have a tactical idea like doing a webinar. From there, think about how the webinar topic will help your company reach X key audience, or tell X key campaign narrative, or achieve some other outcome that matters to your bottom-line objectives. If you can tie an idea to a business KPI, you'll likely come across as thinking strategically.”

Leia Schultz, Product Marketing Manager at JumpCloud

“I would suggest reading extensively. Depending on what industry you are in - read the trade publications, every morning; read the general business news; get curious about the world around you.

“Seeing the growth and trends across the industry can be tremendously helpful in your strategic growth. Also, be patient with yourself. This is a learnable skill but it often takes years, if not longer, to truly develop.”

Rebecca Mark, Marketing Consultant

“Strategic thinking comes from a broad context. Reading is a great way to get an industry context.

“Another good way to gain context is to talk to customers! There is no better way to get context on the problem your business is solving for people.

“Ask ‘why?’ about every decision the company is making. Reach out to people you admire and ask to get an hour to learn about their work and how they think about problems. Read everything.

“As you gain more context, you will naturally find yourself thinking more strategically.”

Jessica Lantz, Head of Marketing at Fishtown Analytics

“Reading about other companies, watching videos, and listening to podcasts can help you develop your strategic thinking skills. Start following people on LinkedIn too.

“PMA has a lot of great content that will inspire you, and you can start applying it to your job and sharing your takeaways in meetings.

“I think that will help you, but give yourself time. Things will come naturally.”

Thiago Neres, Product Marketing Manager at Vendasta

“I was once told that I was good at execution but needed to work on my strategy. Now I proudly market myself as a strategist.

“The difference is I'm no longer simply responding to the parameters given to me, but rather proposing new directions and goals based on my insights and research.”

Jesse Friedman, Director, Marketing and Citizen Outreach at OSET Institute

Q: Does anyone have any tips/blogs/resources on training SaaS salespeople on how to demo?

A: There’s no doubting the role training can play in not only developing SaaS sales reps but within the product marketing industry, in general. Leia Schultz, Product Marketing Manager at JumpCloud gave her advice on how to refine the process:

“Approaching your question with the lens of instilling practice: At my company - which is fully remote these days - we have weekly training sessions with our Sales pros (who are awesome but our SaaS product develops so quickly it's hard to keep up with the latest releases). We also set up opportunities for Sales to role play demo scenarios so they feel confident before they go live with a prospect.

"These are ways we like to ensure our Sales team is ready to answer any question that may arise during a demo, so they can speak to both the how-to element and the value/why element of a feature.”