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Product Marketing keys to unleashing your GTM juggernaut

The best GTM strategy will run aground if operational coordination and alignment, grounded in shared mindset and processes, is not in place. Developing operational maturity and high-velocity learning must be a strategic priority for leadership. 

Do either of these misalignment situations sound familiar when either pipeline and/or revenue is falling short?

1. Sales trashes Marketing because leads are not qualified, the “pipeline” is worthless for generating actual revenue, and/or they don’t have effective tools to work the leads that they are forced to create on their own.

2. Marketing castigates Sales because they cannot close high-quality leads that Marketing delivers.

To prevent this, executives and senior leaders must recognize the strategic importance of creating an organizational mindset anchored in operational maturity, empowerment based on shared ownership, and high-velocity learning - and the processes to make them a reality.

The challenge of growth

After a company grows beyond the founding team, when it looks to grow aggressively by launching new products (and use cases), targeting new markets, ICPs, and personas, and bringing on-board new employees to execute, GTM performance can suffer.

In these situations many of us have experienced the creation of team and information silos, where nominal enablement substitutes for empowerment as teams throw deliverables “over the wall” with the hope, if not expectation, that how to use the material successfully is self explanatory.

That this rarely happens is the result of a mismatch, not so much at the level of the information communicated, but at the level of intellectual ownership and emotional investment. Sales,  Customer Success and other market facing personnel need to be able to connect the dots for a campaign, from strategy to tactics to execution to revenue, internalizing how messaging and assets can be used with leads in a successful sales motion.

The challenge to achieve operational maturity

Operating between strategy and tactics, Sales and Product, Product Marketing is perfectly positioned to address this challenge across multiple levels within the organization.

1. Ensure alignment. Product Marketing, with Demand Gen, must align with Sales to ensure buy-in for the GTM strategy and objectives for specific campaigns, including targets, OKRs and KPIs. 

2. Provide context and structure. Provide the Sales teams with (a) contextual understanding of the GTM strategy, and how a specific launch or campaign fits in (b) messaging, positioning and assets that support the campaign, organized around ICP and persona motivations, needs, and pain points, with defined benefits (c) details on the customer journey and customer expectations at various stages and CTA responses. 

3. Develop a playbook. Use this material to develop a playbook geared to the specific needs of the Sales team, providing a guide for how to manage the Sales motion and approach Sales engagement across the journey. 

These actions are all in the service of creating a shared sense of ownership for the strategy, the campaign, and the narrative that speaks directly to the needs and pain points that motivated responses to the campaign CTAs.

Responsibility for this process rests with Product Marketing. Success is measured to the degree that, during role-playing sessions, or later actual calls, Sales personnel can seamlessly speak customers’ language and address their specific pains and needs, while leveraging the resources that are available to advance the customer journey.

The challenge of high-velocity learning

Even if these programs are accomplished 100%, products and campaigns are launched into a market that responds to them in different ways. PMM cannot assume that the first version of their plan, messaging, journey and assets for a given campaign will meet expectations. The faster PMM, via Customer Success and Sales, can learn from and respond to market feedback the sooner the campaign will yield desired results.

A. Revise using analytics. Much of the customer journey can leverage a MarTech and RevOps infrastructure to both automate the customer journey as well as track user behavior. Tracking these metrics like a hawk will enable the Growth team to tweak the journey, PMM to experiment with asset content and placement, and Sales to modify their pitch. 

B. Dig deep with Sales. Analytics are one thing, but to acquire a real feeling for how the sales motion is working, and to what degree messaging, assets and the journey are motivating prospects, nothing beats close PMM-Sales collaboration. In my experience two elements are critical. First, PMM must listen closely to Sales feedback and take it seriously. Second, PMM must act quickly and decisively on this information to run experiments that drive changes as soon as possible. 

This approach provides concrete proof points to Sales, legitimating and appreciating their input. In turn, Sales feels that their intellectual and emotional investment is justified, and deepens their alignment with, and allegiance to, the campaign. 

Implementing these recommendations can significantly change how you develop and run your GTM strategy and campaigns. Teams will bond over shared ownership and high-velocity learning, enhancing their performance with a direct impact on the bottom line. 

Note: I want to extend my thanks to Marion Jourdan and Sam Lau, two colleagues who were instrumental in helping me clarify my thinking on these issues.

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