Browsing Tag


It’s the user stupid!

Technology while cool, it isn’t typically what buyers/users want or ultimately decide on. Of course there are those buyers who only care about technology, stay away from them as customers. From my experience, they cost a lot. I’m not sure if it’s the high acquisition costs, slow revenue recognition or the ongoing roadmap heckling which is more organizationally draining.

Marketing IS in the Middle: Adam Shapiro

Everyone is in sales, especially marketing or at least marketing is in the middle of the business operations and sales.  Adam Shapiro is a long term sales leader and has spent the last couple of years building out market, product positioning and sales execution models for companies as the President of MS Strategies.  Adam also blogs at Sales Reform School, so check him out, since as a Lawyer turned sales leader he writes some interesting stuff.  Adam provides some interesting views on why Marketing is in the Middle in his thoughts/feedback below.

What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?

I am a sales and marketing process consultant.  For the past four years, I have helped my clients translate their brand and marketing message into conversational tools and processes for collateral, web sites, and one to one conversations.  Most of my clients provide technology tools or services to their customers, but I have also helped consultancies and  more service-oriented businesses.

When you look at your career in marketing, what discipline/component have you found most interesting/challenging?

Most interesting to me is that so many successful people are “intuitives”; that is, they go about their careers working from the seat of their pants rather than a process.  This works well until they have to expand their responsibilities to others within or outside their teams.  Knowledge transfer, coaching, managing, etc. fails because there is no “playbook.”

What do you feel the most important component of a successful marketing gig?  (Product, Brand, Positioning)

Integration with other teams that are stakeholders.  Too often, marketer’s efforts are either unappreciated, underutilized, or in the worst case, miss their mark because sales, customer service, product management, etc. were not involved or considered.

If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?

Sales, marketing and product management are on the same page about what the market needs or wants and how the company’s offerings help with those needs or attain those goals.  There’s a feedback loop between business teams so marketing plans are embraced and there’s follow through when input or output is necessary.

How far is this from reality?

Close for my clients; not so close others.  That’s why I am in business.

Enable persona based sales

So I’ve been thinking a little more on those topics I shared and since I keep reading interesting stuff over at Adele’s site, and am always looking for ways to improve sales enablement. I thought I might should eat a little of my own dog food and address one of the questions myself — How can positioning and targeting of buyer personas improve sales execution?

Having launched products into the market a couple of times, sales enablement and readiness is one of the biggest obstacle to success in the marketplace. Messaging and tools are often the critical success items when you sends sales out into the field to represent your product. Adele’s approach is fairly straight forward – know who you are selling to and what interests your targeted buyer. A recent post that really made me think about it was Messaging to No One In particular. The gobblygook syndrome is a problem in marketing, particularly technology marketing where we all are looking for a way to differentiate.

Broad messaging is just about the same as having no messaging. Messaging for the masses is typically not the best way to go out into the marketplace and often driven by lack of product definition and understanding why your product wins in the marketplace and who it is for. To help figure this out, I ask myself three questions which help me understand the typical buyer persona or at least to prioritize them:

  • Who buys my product at a company?
  • Who influences decision cycles for my product?
  • What do these people they really care about?

Seems a little too simple, but more complex and broad based questions can skew how you go to market – at least for me – I over analyze everything. Sure you can refine with follow on questions, but typically each of these questions return less than 3 or 4 things which is a great baseline to build from.

The core messaging opportunity for marketers and product managers is know the right people to focus on and identify a simple way to speak to them. When you build a product you often leverage use cases/user personas, so why not apply a succinct set of value drivers, key differentiators and messages for the product the buyer.

Crispy Messaging For Me Please

So if big fluffy messaging platforms are the way – what should you do? Crisp it up a little, look at your core messages today, talked to sales and a few customers and see if common themes develop that would allow you to reduce the options for sales to speak to and customers to embrace. The differentiation challenge will continue to be one of those key deliverables marketers and product managers deliver to the field and the marketplace. The challenge to provide sales with a crisp understanding of who benefits from a given product or service is sorta like a twistaplot story, but once you find the ending you like you can crisp it up and make it repeatable. With a focused messaging and buyer centric packaging of the product you can help sales know when is the right time to walk from a sales engagement?

To take a little bit from the Customer Centric Selling folks – The second best salesperson isn’t the one who’s product is runner up in a bake off, but the person who exits the sales cycle first when he/she understands that it isn’t the right target. The DNA of salespeople typically doesn’t allow them to just give up, but if you can provide them with a clear set of buyer personas and product definitions, as a Product Manager, you just might make it more likely sales will focus on the right folks.

Short Attention Span Theatre

Buyers are busy and sales folks are just trying to eek out an existance and neither of these afford the marketer the opportunity to spend a good deal of time explaining why thier product is the right product. From my perspective, albeit limited, effective product management isn’t delivering the coolest product, the most feature rich product or the most enterprise scaleable solution to the marketplace – it centers on delivering the right product, with the right features for the appropriately buyer.

The goal for me at this point is to right size a solution or product for the buyer. How about you?