Getting a Seat at the Table – Be the Buyer Expert
I’m the youngest of eight kids, so I remember years of being relegated to the kids’ table during holiday get-togethers and always yearning to get a seat at the adult table – where I was convinced there must be better stuff.
In B2B, getting a seat at the table means making a direct contribution to – or influencing – the organization’s discussion about business strategy, including target customer and products.
For product marketing leaders, this quest can be frustrating, depending on the function’s maturity level in the organization and the culture (e.g. engineering-centric, sales-centric). I’ve heard from product marketers who complain about their relationships with product managers and engineers: “They look down on us – they think they’re smarter because they have technical expertise.” Other marketers complain about how sales doesn’t listen to them.
Well, we know that ensuring collaboration and alignment across functional teams yields better business outcomes. And one sure-fire way for product marketing to earn a seat at the table is to become the buyer expert.
Develop deep knowledge about your target buying audience. Identify your audience at the industry, geographical, sub-vertical, organizational and buying center levels. Then peel back the layers further to understand the most granular definition of the customer – the buyer persona. Uncover information about buyer personas’ initiatives, challenges and preferences, and understand how they experience the buyer’s journey.
This insight is a critical input to product design, messaging and content, and allows for the creation of campaigns that resonate and compel your buying audience to take the desired action. Use persona knowledge to create tools that enable sales to engage buyers effectively at each stage of the buying cycle and to improve sales productivity.
When you are the subject matter expert on buyers, cross-functional team members will turn to you as the source of customer knowledge. Leverage this expertise to engage with cross-functional teams and drive alignment between product, marketing and sales. Whether your proverbial table is small (with only peers) or large (with access to executives), earning a seat because you’re the resident buyer expert will bring tremendous rewards, and you’ll know that you are actively contributing to the company’s go-to-market success.