Far_side_dolphins_2Thanks Tom for such a nice introduction.  My cheesy music reference (quick, name the band) aside, Tom and are are the two heads of the product managment and marketing beast.  His focus is on building the right product, mine is on bringing it to market.

So, let’s start with something simple – how do you get that blasted sales force to use your stuff? 

I’ve been around product marketers for a long time:  I’ve been one, managed several, been supported by them, and have consulted them.  And if there is one common frustration across the board it’s answering this question –  “what on god’s green earth does the sales force need from me to sell my product?” 

  • They say they need a white paper, you give them a white paper and they say this it’s not what they were looking for.
  • They say they need a better demo, but didn’t tell you they were expecting you to drive it.
  • They say they wanted more collateral, but they don’t use it.

Has product marketing become a profession of futility?

This old Far Side comic best sums up the problem. 

Sales and marketing just speak different languages, and for you to be successful driving revenue of your product or service you are going to need to learn to speak the language of sales.

Here are a few things to think about.    

  1. Most sales organizations in our industry are adopting solution selling approaches where they are specifically taught NOT to talk about products – yet your title has “Product Marketing” in it.
  2. Do you have peers in your organization?  How much time do you spend connecting the dots between your offerings, messages, tools, and content?  Do you know who has to connect those dots?
  3. Designing for the typical sales person may be the worst thing you can do.  Most sales organizations are looking to elevate the abilities of the sales force.  If you supply content tools for the masses, you could unknowingly be enabling the vary behavior leaderships is looking to change.
  4. Sales people are different.  Just like there are different Myers Briggs personality types, so too are their different sales personas.  Be cognizant of that when you develop tools.
  5. Sales people talk.  If you want the things you create to be used, focus on making a few successful. This might seem a little like the tao of marketing, but if you want more adoption, focus first on the few.  Launching first to many generally leads to a handful of users.

So, go swim with the dolphins!  Get trained on your sales process, participate in the role playing, go through all of the product training, lob cold calls into new prospective accounts, try to set appointments with c-level executives. 

The opportunity for marketing to create more leverage in the selling process is enormous and easily measured.  However, to determine the right things to do, marketer’s need to take the plunge and jump in the tank.