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You and your sales marketing team

Watch Alex Cowan discuss the relationship between a product manager and the sales and marketing team.
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In this video we’re going to talk about how to create a strong interface with your sales and marketing team. Just like your number one job with development is to bring them strong inputs, here your number one job is to bring the sales and marketing team a nice clear, tested view of product market fit. That’s the input to them - product market fit - and their input back to the customer is to go and to amplify that product market fit. Can they help you find product market fit? They could, but that’s really your job. Sales and marketing is about scaling product market fit, not creating it.
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Because it’s very hard to create it from a product that’s not designed with product market fit in mind. Traditionally, a failure mode is that - you know, you ask well, why is the marketing not working? And they say well, we did it, I don’t know - it must be the product. And it’s kind of like nobody gets why things aren’t working. So how do you make sure that you’re bringing to marketing a tested view of this product market fit and that they are communicating back to you something that is testable? Because there is this saying, half of all advertising dollars are wasted, I just don’t know what half - those days are kind of winding down.
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Media is highly testable and there are a lot of techniques that - that allow marketers and product managers to understand what’s really working. What is marketing? Well, you know, it’s conceivably all this stuff here. And - but one thing that I think is particularly important is growth. So just specific activities that lead to measurable, incremental growth, usually in the area of digital. And that’s kind of what this discipline of growth hacking is about, it’s kind of a Silicon Valley take on what marketing is. And this canvas here is a useful way to collaborate with your marketing team, maybe your sales team, on that. The real independent variable here is the relationship between segments and personas and value propositions.
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For example, with enable quiz, they - the product manager <v ->may have gone out and found what - you know,</v> we tried this product out, a lot of people, what we found is that corporations that have 100 to 500 engineers and use a lot of international talent and have a dedicated recruiter for that, they really like the product because it allows them to screen all the different international talent that they might want to use and it makes it easier for the hiring manager to understand where and how they might want to deploy international teams. So that’s a relatively identifiable specific segment.
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And then the personas within those, you want to make sure that you understand, you can articulate to the sales and marketing team how you’ve thought about them and what you’ve learned by doing pilots and trials with them. So the tool that is the best thing for it is this personas and problem scenarios, this testable view, humanized view of - of who the user is and then these ideas about
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what problems are we solving for them, what are they doing about those now? That is the best thing, that is one of the most useful things for a product manager and a marketing team to kind of collaborate around, especially for a really creative, empathic marketing. And I think that what’s nice about it is that in a high-functioning organization, you can answer the question of, you know, what does the user want when you’re making stuff and then you watch what does the user do and you keep making this more durable and then you’re able to use that also as an input and the - and a learning vehicle or a learning receptacle of what you’re finding out in promotion over on the sales and marketing side when you’re selling stuff.
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And so this is an extremely important activity. These value propositions and this testing, this lean startups out testing around them is the other part here, these value propositions. So if we offer the service to this type of customer in such a such and such a way, then they will buy it, is the sort of basic proposition. And that’s - that’s testable. So we move from a successful pairing that you’ve validated of these over to these brand experiences. How does the customer, you know, buy the product? How do they find out about it before that? How do they use it? Those are all brand experiences.
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Your marketing team will have a view of the brand’s personality - how it looks, how it feels - and then that will translate over into a set of marketing activities that, you know, that’s their area of expertise. They’ll touch things, they’ll figure them out. Your job is to create a strong interchange with them, where you guys are both measuring what activity is working and why and you’re continuing to learn more and more about the customer. The interaction with a sales team, it really parallels this. You know, hey, salespeople, why can’t you sell more? Well, product manager, I don’t know.
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They don’t want to buy the product or they don’t want to be the first person to buy that product because you haven’t gone out and tested the product with people. Well, this - this obviously doesn’t work very well and you want to avoid this. One of the most common failure modes of this type of interaction is what David Bland calls the “Product Death Cycle.” Where nobody uses the product or no one buys the product; we ask the customers what features they would want, they tell us something, we go build that - they still don’t buy it.
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Well, customers will always tell you something if you ask them, but it takes a product manager - it takes that expanded view of who the customer is who grinds out a disciplined view of product market fit to break out of this cycle and take proactive activity on his stuff. And that’s how you create a successful interface with your sales team. So you bring them product market fit and they say great, let’s - you know, you found one customer, one will find 10 and 10 will find 100 and then we’ll find 1,000 to go out and sell it. And that’s - that’s how you get from a bad situation to a good situation.
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And that idea that, you know, we shouldn’t build our product for this, you know, big scaleability - we should find a few customers that really like it and then once we - we validate that, then that’s the time to scale. That’s really the essence of a successful interface with a salesperson. Other examples of how to do that are if you use a CRM system. Sometimes the salesperson, but sometimes the product manager, or maybe in conjunction with marketing will actually go and load the target addressable market of all the companies of the right size or characteristic into the CRM. That’s - that’s an even more proactive example of defining product market fit for your sales team.
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And this growth hacking canvas is a good place, I think, as well - with the sales team to go and talk about that. We’ll close with this idea of why do these things fail? And I think they - why do interfaces with sales and marketing go wrong, why do products not sell? I think a lot of it tends to parallel this scale-friendly versus this innovation- friendly way of approaching things. And we want to - we want to be here.
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One of the - the biggest failures is that the - the sales team, the marketing team, the product management team, the engineering team - they’re all siloed; they’re all out doing their own thing, measuring their efficiency locally, whereas really, in a high-functioning environment with strong innovation and good product management, you have interdisciplinary teams, often practicing agile.
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I would consider that and you may not have the prerogative to organize the teams outside your area - in areas like sales and marketing - but what you can do is make it feel like you guys are part of the same team and create these kind of interfaces where you’re bringing them a nice strong view of product market fit, which I’m sure they’ll appreciate and you’re working with them on measurable specific progress. So we’re not saying to each other you better do this, you better do that; we’re saying hey, this is what we think. Let’s try this out together and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try out something else.
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So those are some thoughts on how you create a nice strong interface with your sales and marketing team to scale up product market fit and drive revenue.

In this video, Alex talks about creating a strong interface with the sales and marketing team. A product manager’s priority with sales and marketing is to bring them a clear tested view of product market fit. He presents a chart of Bland’s ‘Product Death Cycle’ to explain some instances of product failure. Customers are asked what they want in a product, but when the product is improved with those specs, the customers still do not buy it. How does a product manager extract the needs of a customer to find out what they really need, instead of what they say they need?

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