In this episode, Saima Rashid, an accomplished marketing leader and SVP of Marketing & Revenue Analytics at 6sense, shares her experiences, expertise, and guiding principles in navigating the dynamic world of marketing. From balancing the demands of parenthood with a thriving career to harnessing the power of data-driven strategies, Saima offers valuable insights into modern marketing practices. 

She delves into her career trajectory, emphasizing the fusion of analytical prowess with creative marketing instincts.

Listen to the podcast here

Storytelling and GTM Insights through Revenue Ops: Saima Rashid, SVP of Marketing and Revenue Analytics at 6sense

Welcome to the latest episode of the B2B Go to Market Leaders podcast. Thank you once again from the very depth of my heart. I know, you have a lot of options out there, but you are taking the time to listen to the podcast and continuing to learn and grow when it comes to go to market. Now talking about learning and growing, I have yet another amazing guest on the podcast, she is Saima Rashid and she is the SVP of Marketing and Revenue Analytics at 6sense. So with that, welcome to the show, Saima.

Thank you so much, Vijay. I’m so excited to be here on your show.

Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I mean, an amazing career. You won a lot of industry awards. You got a good really almost like a rocket ship career growth. And I’m sure you can share a lot of the stories, anecdotes, and insights with our listeners around anything and everything around go to market, as well as on your personal side and career front.

Yeah, I’m happy to chat through it, and I think there’s always learning to come myself.

Like I’m just excited. You know, you talk to a lot of go-to-market leaders. So I’m interested in your POV as well.

Signature question: How do you view and define go to market?

Yeah. So I mean, at the end of the day, a go-to-market is really a comprehensive plan in the way a business is going to be bringing a product or service to the market. Right. Very simple. Now that’s, you know, an overly simple definition. The devil is of course in the details, right? You want to think about it. If you are bringing a new product or service to market, you want to understand the risk. You want to introduce, you know, some intelligence around your target market and really refine who this is for. You want to position it accordingly. You want to have a great marketing plan in place, a great distribution strategy, a great sales motion that’s going to, you know, make it happen.

And on the flip side, you also want to make those customers successful. And so it’s all of those things wrapped up into one, which is of course why I said, you know, the devil is in the details because on the surface, you know, a lot of companies go to market. I think not every company does it well. And because there’s just so many inherent risks and money and people involved, you know, you want to really plan it appropriately.

No, totally. I mean, I’ve been speaking with a lot of go-to-market guests on this podcast and even outside. They range from founders to functional leaders that include a CMO, CPO, CRO, and customer success leaders. Right. And the perspectives vary. The definitions of go to market vary. So, for example, if you ask someone from marketing or even product marketing, they say they quote and unquote are responsible for go-to-market, but that’s more of a checklist.

And here is what we need to do when we launch a product versus if you talk to someone in sales, they say we are a go-to-market, period because we are the revenue generating, the customer-facing team for the most part. And, the other nuance is a go-to-market for a version one product from a startup that’s just about starting and testing that go-to-market motion will be completely different from, let’s say, a company like 6sense, for example. Right? 

Absolutely. And I think that it’s so interesting that you get so many different POVs, which tells you it isn’t just one thing. It really is the harmony of marketing, sales, and customer success together to provide that really rich experience to not only your target, accounts your ICP, and your target buyers, but also, of course, customers as they come on board.

Yeah, absolutely. You touched upon marketing, sales, and customer success. Curious, what do you think about the product and go-to-market product too?

Oh, see, I did it, I did it, I forgot the product.

No product is actually so in the sense of, you know, I feel like the product marketing team, which I do own at 6sense, they are in lockstep with the product. Very much so. Right. Like them, we are nothing, you know, go to market really without a product and having the product informed by what we’re seeing in the market from a marketing perspective, from a competitive intelligence perspective, and then also having product information. Well, here’s what’s realistic, here’s what’s doable. Here are the timelines. Here are the features that you know will be a key differentiator for us. It has to be a negotiation and a really well-orchestrated launch.

Yeah. And especially if you’re talking about product lead growth, I mean, the product is front and center at least for the initial individual buyers and users. And then, of course, you have the sales motion that’s on top with sales assist or sales lead for a product like growth. But yeah, the product is a critical component.



Absolutely. So yeah this is a great start. So let’s take a step back. Why don’t you share with our listeners your career journey all the way from I mean, it’s up to you where you want to start.

I was born in no, I won’t go that far back. I will say I am. I think the fact that I sit in as the head of marketing at 6sense. Is an interesting story because my roots are very much in the data and analytics world. So this shows you kind of how much of a data-driven company we are. I started my career doing consulting for very big companies that were generating a lot of data. Right. It was at a B2B and B2C consulting company based in Toronto, Canada. And that’s where, you know, we operated as the analytics team for all the big banks, all the big telcos, you know, big tech companies that were generating a lot of data but didn’t have dedicated resources analyzing the impact of their marketing programs and what not and understanding their customers.


And so that’s a great place to learn because you’re working with different types of data, different industries, and so on. And then once, you know, I was there for about ten years, I moved into a role at a company based out of Boston. It’s a tech company called PTC. And there I was hired to build really the marketing analytics program. And during my eight years there, I actually ended up owning all analytics. So marketing analytics, sales analytics, and customer success analytics. Yeah. Renewal analytics services analytics, data science. So again you know it just goes to show that if you can build a culture of leveraging the data to drive insights, to inform what the functional or functions in an organization need to do. Yeah, it’s hugely valuable. And so in my time at PTC, I think that was a big hallmark of it was always supporting internal functions. So I’ve always supported, you know, marketing, sales, CS and all of that, but all with the goal of all right, here’s what the data says we should do. Let’s go do it. 

And by the way, if you won’t do it, you know or you can’t do it, we’re going to go do it. Right. So it was always taking it to that last mile. And so much of analytics I think tends to fall flat in. Here’s my deliverable. Here you go. Here’s a dashboard. Here’s a report. Go do something with it. And I think the best analytics teams are strategic partners to the functions. And we’ll go that last mile and say, well actually let’s let’s execute on this together. And that led me to 6sense where I was hired to again build out the analytics function. But through informing so much of the marketing, when the role opened up and our CMO was promoted to CRO, I was tapped to lead marketing and I couldn’t be more fortunate. I have the best team. It’s wonderful. It’s just I’m so proud of everything that they put out every day.

Fantastic. Thank you for sharing your journey. And then congratulations on the promotion and owning and leading marketing ad success that’s a huge responsibility. It’s a fun journey as well.

Absolutely. It’s huge and I don’t take it lightly. But I’ve got a phenomenal team behind me.

Yeah. By the way, I didn’t expect to assess, but since you shared this piece of news, I’m curious, like you, throughout your career, for the most part, you were responsible for the analytics, like the Revops equivalent right across organizations versus now you are responsible for a function within go to market. So how are you preparing yourself for this big shift?

Yeah. So I think over the years because the analytics translated to what are we going to do about it? What should the function do? I’ve kind of been preparing for the role,, for over 20 years now. And so I’m bringing a lot of those strengths to the way we’re planning for the year, the way we’re executing on campaigns, the way we’re evaluating which campaigns are working and not working. And then I really, you know, any good leader has to rely on the team around them.

And my leadership team has filled some of those, you know, areas where I’m not as strong or might not have as much experience. Right? I’ve got product marketing, and I’ve got R and PR under me. I’ve got, you know, a wonderful AB team that is building beautiful experiences for our prospects and customers. And I think, you know, a team that is too similar in their skill set is not a team I want to build. I want everyone to bring their own unique strengths. And, you know, lift up where there might be gaps. And so, you know, I think on-the-job training, like I’m in it, I’m in it and it’s happening. But I’ve got a great team of, you know, behind me as well as my peers. One of the most unique parts of my role at success is, yes, I lead marketing and analytics there, but I lead marketing at a company that sells to marketers. And so I am the target person. In fact, my entire team is the target persona for what we sell.

And so we have to be customer zero. We have to be the best. Possible customer of our own platform. And so that’s been phenomenal right? Coming up with net new use cases of how marketers should be adopting all of the wealth of intelligence that a tool like 6sense brings. Also in this role, I’m fortunate enough to lead a community called CMO Coffee Talk. And there are 2000 CMOs in that community. We meet twice a week, so I run two sessions on Fridays, one East Coast, and one West Coast. So not only am I learning from my team and my peers, I’m learning from the best in the business, right? And we’ll talk about topics that are, you know, to, key, you know, relevant, timely that everyone is talking about. And so there’s great learning from the ecosystem as well that I’m just so fortunate to have.

Yeah. No, this is great. And when you did mention the community, it reminded me of something that I preach. Not preach. “Preach” is not the right word, but it’s almost like a put to practice, both for my own business as well as for the clients that I work with. Right. When it comes to go to market. And curious to get your thoughts on this, when it comes to go to market I’ve studied top go-to-market leaders, and typically more often than not it comes down to three things. They get this right, which is content. The second is community and the third is experiencing/events. So if you have these three things, I mean, if you are strapped for resources, you can pick one and be really good at something similar to what Kong is doing when it comes to content. Yeah, but ideally you want to have these three. And you did mention community. So I’m eager to get your thoughts around the content community and events. And maybe I’m missing some other pieces in this.

No, I think you’ve got it. I mean, content, community, and experience. And I think we cover all three at 6sense, right? We pride ourselves on sweating the small stuff and really, you know, taking care of all the details, the experiences that our, our events team and our IB team put on our, you know, industry-leading content that we put out and we leverage, by the way, you know.

New tools. We’re looking for ways to always improve our content. putting it out in a way that is so consumable. Right. We adopt a no-form strategy on our website. Everything is un-gated. So the content that we do create and we create a lot of it is reaching our target audience. It’s all about reducing friction in what we’re doing. And so I agree with you. I think content, experience as well as communities is critical. And we do invest in each of those. And I think beyond that, also, you have to be thinking of what’s next and what marketing is producing. What’s next is, well, what’s going to be the hours and what’s going to be sales? And so we have to hold that responsibility as well. And so that does come down to. Really refining your ICP and knowing who you are going to create the content, community, and experiences for making sure that we’re not selling churn right. We want to be in front of the audience that we care about.

And so it really does come back to marketing. Who is at the top of the funnel to make sure that it’s all very relevant and focused?

Yeah. And I’m actually curious to get your thoughts on go to market. First of all, what’s been the go-to market for 6sense in terms of all these different sales motions, positioning, the ICP, targeting the content and so on? And then how you as a CMO, the new CMO, are you planning to evolve this like in 2024 and beyond?

Yeah. So it’s always, you know, evolving is what I would say. So, you know, we’ve had a traditional go-to market, we sell, you know, we launched. I actually maybe I’ll start there six and started ten years ago as a company that was looking to solve a very simple problem. If we only knew which companies were in the market for the things that we’re selling, wouldn’t our job be so much easier as sales as a sales org, as a marketing org, if we just knew who was interested? And that’s the answer that we’ve been looking to solve.

And we launched our, you know, revenue for marketing, product way back then. And since then, we’ve not only answered that question, we’ve answered, well, okay, who’s in the market? But also what are they interested in how do they want to be spoken to, and who specifically in the organization should be reaching out to and how? And so, you know, it’s all of those answers along the way that have evolved our go-to-market journey. Right. We have a product for sale now that is, you know, out there. And we launched it last year and have had huge success. Forrester just named us a leader six months into that product being launched. I mean, it’s kind of remarkable. And, you know, we’re exploring, of course, always exploring additional strategies like Plg motion as well. But, you know, the goal is to always be evolving and meeting our prospects where they are.

Yeah, no. Very cool. And on a lighter note, how would your family describe what you do? Yeah.

I love that question. I have two children who hear me on Zoom calls a lot, right from the other room. When they come back from school, they hear me, and they make fun of me and I feel like they’ve got my intro said, they always say, mama does marketing and mama does analytics, and it’s the data. And so, you know, they’ve got the gist of it at least. But what they do know is, you know, I hope they see that I am, you know, excited about going to work every day, doing really cool and interesting things, you know, that I think they see that and I hope they see that.

Yeah, I’m sure I mean, especially the fact that you talk and you get involved and it sounds like you are very close to your kids and you spend a lot of time with them. I mean, you are a great parent, but that’s one thing that’s coming across and I’m sure they’ll see you as an inspiration going forward.

Oh, I hope so. They’re the best. They really are. And that’s the goal of all we do, right? Especially as a working mother. I think there’s always this struggle to find balance. And, you know, if you’re over-indexing on the work, you feel like you’re, you know, not giving the kids enough time. If you’re spending too much time with the kids, you feel like you’re missing out on work. And I think, you know, I have great kids, I have a great partner at home, and we’ve been able to find a really good balance that works for us.

Very cool. So switching gears a bit over here, Saima, what advice or insights would you give to our listeners? So because looking back at your career, you gravitated towards analytics and data, something I don’t know if it came from your days and when you were studying or maybe early days of your career, but something, gravity, something pulled you in towards data analytics, and then at a later stage you gravitated towards being a marketing leader.

So what advice would you share? Or if you can share your journey, like what should people look for in terms of signals?

Yeah, I think when people talk about data or hear about data, you know, everyone thinks that their data is just too bad or they don’t have a complete data set or, you know, there’s almost barriers that they put in front of them. And I just want to dispel that notion because nobody’s data is perfect, right? Let’s be honest. We are all dealing with legacy systems. Things are captured. There’s always going to be some blind spots that we have. My recommendation would be to always start with what you have and build upon it. And iterate. Even if you do measure the same thing and you start measuring it consistently, you’ll start to see trends emerge. You’ll start to see a story emerge, right? Are we doing better or worse than we did last week, last month, last quarter, last year? Those are the types of things that you’ve just got.

At least start to have the data inform what you’re doing and patterns start to emerge. So I always say don’t let perfect get in the way of greatness. Start now and go on that journey. And everyone can benefit from leveraging the data in marketing. And marketing has tended to always, you know, probably 20 years ago, you know, marketing wasn’t as data-driven as it is now. But we’ve had a digital transformation. There’s so much data and intelligence and tools out there that we should be harnessing because guess what? If we’re not going to do it, our competitors will. And so you want to be making use of everything that is out there. If you know that 7% of your ICP is in-market and actively exhibiting signals of interest, wouldn’t you put your sellers on those accounts? Wouldn’t you have your BDRS focus on them? So especially in today’s economy where there are limited budgets, limited headcount, it’s almost more critical to rely on predictive analytics, and AI to really inform what we’re doing. And so I always say, you know, I think it’s come out of necessity, but also just it’s good business.

We should be operating every function in a way where we’re looking at the data and deriving insights and actions from it.

Yeah. And then the second part of the question was why marketing out of all the other possibilities?

Yeah! It’s funny. I’ve always had a, you know, I feel like I’m both right and left-brained, whatever that means. But, you know, I have an analytical background, but I’ve been creative. I’ve always been interested in art and creating beautiful things and, you know, advertising and the power of a great jingle, a great campaign. You know, we grow up, kind of seeing these things all around us. And so I always knew that that was something that I was interested in as well. And so I did study that. I actually had a minor in marketing when I was in school and, a major in, you know, analytics and information sciences. And that was the goal for me. I need to be, you know, hitting both sides of that to really feel fulfilled.

And I’m just so lucky that the first job I got, in Toronto, Canada, was for a consulting company that did just that. It was marketing analytics. And so I think I’ve just been fortunate. And then since then, I’ve carried on and I’ve been able to. I think that’s why I don’t let the data just be the data. It really is about telling the story and then saying, what does this mean for the marketing function, for the sales function, for the BDR function, what should we be doing from it? And that’s, that’s, you know, what’s made my career so fulfilling?

And while you’re figuring out that you want to move from Ops into a marketing leadership role, do you experiment and test? Okay, this is what I want to do, and I know I’ll be successful.

Like everything, everything is testing. Yeah. If your listeners take one thing away, just know that if you don’t have a way to measure success for something, why are you even setting it live? Why are you putting the budget, time, and effort of your team, or your company into something that you have no way of saying? Is this working right? And it doesn’t have to be a perfect measurement? Again, let’s not forget.

But something that will be a great leading indicator is this working. That’s what prevents, you know, big failures or big wastage. There was an article, a research brief, actually, that Boston Consulting Group put out last year where they estimated that sales, marketing, sales, marketing, and CSS teams were collectively leaving $2 trillion of waste on the table through, you know, misaligned programs, missed opportunities. That’s a whole lot of waste. That’s 12 zeros, you know, in a trillion. And so it’s really our duty as stewards of the budgets that we carry, of the people on our teams to really make what they do meaningful. And so you should be testing and iterating. It can be a simple view, but just always, you know, when you’re setting anything live, really think through what you want to accomplish. And sometimes even that alone. What is the objective of this thing that we’re going to launch or this thing that we’re going to do? Sometimes that alone is enough to determine, whether is it worth it or not. Is it laddering up to the strategic priorities of the company? Yes! No.

Yeah. No. And assuming you did something similar on your personal front, and on the career front as well, where you did okay, this is an experiment. These are the leading indicators and success and failure criteria before I take on a full-time CMO role.

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, every, every career move, you’ve got to outweigh the pros and the cons and determine what is, you know, your growth trajectory here. Am I working with people who inspire me and or who are doing great things? That’s what keeps it interesting, right? I think, you know, I’ve been lucky enough to have opportunities come my way, but every opportunity that I’ve taken has been a little bit scary. And that’s a good thing, right? If you’re just it should always be a little bit daunting to take on something new, because that’s where the real growth happens.

Absolutely. So something that really caught my attention and I wanted to get your thoughts on Saima is, you talk about ICP and you talk about data. So how do you use data to figure out your ICP? I know there are standard ways people keep talking about, okay, this is a job title, the company, the industry, and so on. But I’m sure there are a lot more vectors out there. Not just these.

Yes. Oh, absolutely. So our ICP is determined again by 6sense. We drink our own champagne, we use our own product. And so for us, there’s a couple of components to it. number one, your ICP really. You know, for us, it starts with, does this company look like the types of companies that have bought from us in the past? And 6sense gives you what’s called a profile fit score. And so that’s really the first component of our ICP.

Is this a strong profile account based on our historical wins? Right. That’s a great starting place. Then you know, you want to overlay other data points like who does 6sense sell to. We sell typically to companies that have certain techno graphics in place. They own a CRM. They have a marketing automation platform. So we’ll overlay the ICP with those thermographic data points, then think, sorry, those technographic data points. Then think of firmer graphics we sell to companies of a certain size revenue range industry. Right. And so we’ll overlay NAIC codes, SIC codes, and revenue data to really refine that. And that’s kind of, you know, a starting point for us. Then of course there’s the question of where we want to go in the future. And you know that that’s a little bit different from that backward look of who we have sold to in the past, and what’s the profile of them. And for us, you know, there’s a geo component there we want to break into new geographies.

6sense launched you know an EMEA office about two years ago. And so we added those countries to our ICP. And we also are constantly looking to break into new verticals. And so in those cases, we add those geo data points, those industries that code and we kind of refine the ICP. And that gives us a really strong starting point. Now, because our ICP definition lives in 6sense, it’s dynamic. So as net new companies start to meet those criteria, start to, you know, start to show intent, those are pulled into the ICP. And so as a team, we internally meet twice a month to look at the ICP data and make sure there aren’t any blind spots. Look at net new deals that we might have closed one or closed lost. Are they, you know, in a certain pattern? I can keep going back to the patterns, but are we seeing something there that we should add to the ICP yes or no? But it really is a crucial exercise that I encourage everyone to spend the time on.

And then, of course, this is what marketing puts together. And we have our rev ops counterparts, our sales counterparts, and our CSE counterparts in the room. And we continue to refine that based on retention data based on, you know, upsell data. Where are we expanding? Those are the types of accounts we want to get more of. And so that’s why it’s so critical for us to keep that dynamic view of the ICP and continue to refine it.

Yeah. And the way I’m reading this is, ICP for the new market would be different from ICP for okay, this is the pattern of customers we’ve been selling to before. The success versus ICP for expansion will be, again, different.

Absolutely. You should always have, you know, the backward view, but the forward view and the lateral views in place.

Absolutely. All right. Let’s go even further deeper here. I’m sure across your career you’re seeing both go-to-market success and a good market failure story. So if you can share, I’ll let you choose which one you want to go with. First, let’s cover both the success and failure story. Yeah.

So I am on the success side, you know there’s a lot. And I’ve been again fortunate to work for companies that are doing a lot of really cutting-edge, innovative things. And the one that comes to mind most recently is what we, at 6sense, have done just over the past 12 months. We embarked on what we call our BDR transformation. So for us, you know, we don’t rely on inbound leads necessarily for our motion. We want to proactively get in front of those accounts if they’re, you know, a part of our ICP. And so we look for intent data and signals and will, you know, get our bidders engaged at the right time. And so for us, we really wanted to tighten that process of the BDR org, which, by the way, does report into marketing and it’s part of my remit. And so we started out by making it really clear on expectations. Right. So know what good looks like.

Then you set the filet accordingly. And then you inspect. And so we know we win more deals when we’ve got x number of contacts involved. And when it’s x, y, z persona we win more. Our win rate doubles. Yeah. And you know, we convert more accounts to opportunities when we reach out to them within X amount of time. And so that’s where you start to build your SLA. All right. When an account hits a certain intent stage BDS, you have, you know, 20 minutes to do your first activity against it. And I expect you to reach out to at least three personas in that account. And I expect you to do X number of touches along the way. So number one, just setting that standard across the board allowed for consistency with that team, and it almost just dispels any guesswork. Everyone knows what they need to do. They’re going to come in. They’re going to follow the process. Boom boom, boom. And then I mentioned inspection.

Right. So we’ve got really great scorecards in place that are our BDR manager’s own. They will track activity levels of BDS attainment. We look at it. We review it as a team every Monday. You know. So there’s again that okay we said we’re going to do this. Are we actually doing it right? And then we do other things right. We saw that our teams were performing more when they were in the office. And so we did implement a return to office procedure for the BDR team. And they are in the office three days a week in our key hubs, in our key offices, and they are learning from each other. They’re coaching each other. They’re talking about how to handle objections with each other. Right. So it’s just fostered a really great culture within the BDR org. we have implemented, you know, better, more around dialing and getting bars on the phone. How can we automate some of the more repetitive tasks that they do using our own AI product, having an AI assistant do that initial outreach via email so that the bars are able to get on the phone and speak with the prospects more?

And, you know, there’s probably ten other things we did, but it was just about, you know, it’s not that or wasn’t performing. But we recognize the critical nature of it to our go-to market motion. And we wanted to even improve it more. And since then, I can tell you, I actually made a post about this on LinkedIn this week. Our win rate for our outbound activities is higher than inbound, which I think is unheard of in the industry. But it’s just about, you know, again, if you put a program around the data and the intelligence that 6sense in ten is providing you, it will yield results. And so for us, that’s been a great, great success story. And we’re, you know, continuing to push the envelope there. in terms of failure, I will say. If you’re measuring what you’re launching something shouldn’t fail to the degree that you would call it a failure. I would say, you know, fail fast within a week or two.

You should know if this thing working. Is this thing resonating? And so I wouldn’t call. I don’t think I can even give you an example of a failure, because if there has been something that we launched or even if we planned to do something one way and very quickly we determined, nope, it’s not working. All we do is we pivot, we iterate, and it’s that testing and kind of iterating that really allows you to avoid those big failures. And so, you know, I, I think that’s why, you know, when you asked me, what advice would you give to anyone? That was my answer. Always have a plan in place to just be able to gauge early on. Is this worth the time, effort, and budget that I’m putting into it?

Yeah, no for sure. So whenever I frame the word failure, I hear different variations, especially the very successful or go-to-market leaders that have a high impact. They don’t see it as a failure. They see it as a feedback loop and a learning lesson to pivot, as you said.

Yeah, yeah for sure. All right. So let’s switch gears a bit more over here. So what did you mention you would now be head of marketing at Sixth Sense. What are your typical interactions with product marketing? when it comes to either launch or what are the big challenge areas or initiative and focus areas that you’re looking at when it comes to product marketing?

Yeah. So my product marketing team is wonderful. and they really sit at the intersection of marketing, product enablement, and sales. Right? There are so many teams that they’re touching. They’re the ones really coming up with the best way to position a new product, the best way to train and enable our sellers on it, the best type of content and messaging that we should be putting out with it. And so they do all of that and more. I think they’re one of those, you know, Swiss Army knives that will plug them into whichever project needs to be happening and they’ll run with it. And so from a launch perspective, absolutely, they run the launch process, in conjunction with our business technology team that is kind of running the mechanics of the launch.

And it really is about working hand in hand with the product organization, around what is being launched, what are the real success criteria and value drivers that it’s bringing. And then I think more importantly, beyond that, then before launch, do we have a really robust alpha program where we’re testing this internally because again, we run 6sense for 6sense. So we have to be our best customer. And the goal is that by the time a product does go to launch, we’ve, you know, tested it. We’ve come up with best-case scenarios. We’ve come up with pro tips that we can give even a playbook that we can offer up to our customers as here you go. Here’s how the internal team, you know, drove success with it. So an alpha, then a beta with, you know, other customers to come up with more use cases and, and things that, you know, we might have missed. And then of course, get to a place where we’re doing a really successful launch.

Yeah. No, for sure. Typically what I’ve seen, like really successful product marketing organizations do is they have like five, six or even seven eight programs. Starts with positioning and messaging. That’s the first and most important responsibility. And then there are customer insights which go hand in hand. It’s a combination of primary and secondary research. Following that would be sales enablement, especially if your sales lead or you have a heavy sales mission, it’ll be sales enablement. And then you have the new product launch, new market launch, then you have product adoption. And then, of course, product content, all the content that has to be.

Absolutely. We also have competitive intelligence in that team as well. So we’ve got a really great competitive intelligence team that’s keeping, you know, us all up to date because we’re in such a, you know, competitive industry. The MarTech landscape has, you know, been constantly evolving. And so we’ve got a couple of folks dedicated to that as well.

Yeah. And curious I mean, you do have and you wear the hats of revenue ops analytics leader as well as marketing that owns product marketing. So who do you think should own and who drives like, tests and sees the product adoption, whether it’s right or not, even product expansion, and who like, what kind of programs or initiatives?

Yeah. So it’s a great question because, you know, it could live in both. And for us, the teams actually collaborate on that. So product marketing owns the launch. They own, you know, identifying, you know, who’s going to be part of a beta program. How we’re going to go to market. But I have somebody on my Mops team who runs the alphas, and of course, she works again hand in hand with product marketing. Together they are coming up with success criteria for the launch. How are we going to deem this alpha, you know, a success? What test cases are we going to run? And so it’s Mops and a product marketer together.

But the ultimate responsibility of running that alpha and that testing is with Mops. And then the product marketing team takes, you know, those results and runs with it.

Understood. And where does customer success come into play, especially for expansion?

Yeah, I mean we Customer Success 6sense invested a lot in our customer success program. We have phenomenal leaders. And so then you know, there’s a very sort of clear handoff even before a deal is closed. We’re keeping them in the loop about, you know, the customer, their pain points. I think having a single source of truth in the data is great for that. You know, they can get all those notes and do a really nice seamless transfer between sales and customer success. And then they are involved even, you know, believe it or not, they’re even involved obviously in, you know, expansion and upsells. But way back, if we close that loop to even defining the ICP, yeah, we have KSE have a voice in that meeting as well because ultimately they are the ones making those customers successful.

And so their feedback is also critical to which types of customers we are going to be targeting!

Very cool. All right. and now let’s switch gears again. Going back to your career overall, I’m sure you must have come across mentors, folks who have played a big role in either directing you or guiding you and then shifting your thought process. So, yeah, maybe a few people who come to mind and how they have influenced you, if you can share that.

Yeah. It’s funny because we talked a little about parenting early on. I’m going to start with my mother. She, you know, did her master’s degree at a time when not many women did. I think there was one of them. She was one of four females at the college that actually graduated from the master’s program the year she did. And, she instilled that, you know, career mindset with her four daughters. and her son. But, you know, she really always pushed us to make a career for ourselves.

The importance of an education, the importance of being able to take care of yourself first. And that has very much been a guiding light for me in my career. And then I’ve been so fortunate to have managers along the way. And, you know, next-line managers who I learned from, who guided me, I will say my first manager, he really taught me about telling a story with data and taking it to the next level. my, you know, my subsequent managers have really taught me about. Being bold and taking the risks. And, you know, you’ve got this, I think for somebody to, you know, show that confidence in you and to push you to do the thing that, you know, might just be an idea, but could help propel the business to a place where, you know, it wouldn’t if we kept with the status quo. I’ve been really fortunate to have my last two or three managers be the ones that have said, go do it, let’s test it, let’s make it happen.

And you need those folks in your corner. And so, you know, obviously, those are managers. I’ve worked with peers and my team who have consistently guided me. And then I mentioned the CMO community. Right? I mean, that in itself is a great place of inspiration and learning. Just today, we had Guy Kawasaki, at our community event and he, you know, for an hour inspired us about what makes a remarkable leader. I mean, moments like that, you know, even just an hour spent with folks like that will really, you know, be inspirational and guide you. And so I find inspiration everywhere.

Very cool. You touched upon something really important. I think one of your earlier managers instilled in you the importance of tying data to telling, and how you tell a story around it. So is that a skill that people reach out to you? And if you can give tactical advice, like how do you tie storytelling and data?

Yeah. So if you know, people come to me really, for a couple of things, but I would say data number one.

And then probably secondly, you know, simplifying communication up, leveling it, how do we, you know, present this to an exact audience. And on the data side, I’ve. I told to my analytics team. If someone asks you for a number or a report, you don’t just send back the number or the report. Right, right. My expectation is, that if I’ve asked you for the answer to this question, you’ll answer it. But you’ll also think of the other things around that I might not have asked you about. Look at the bigger picture. Extract yourself from just that really narrow mindset, right? And even if you are sending someone a quick number report, always include the well, what does this mean? Here’s how I would interpret it. Here’s what this means for you. Is this better or worse than what we’ve seen? Are we on the right trajectory? Yeah, that piece is really the difference between. Data and analytics. And so that’s the goal. And sometimes, you know, teams will not assume that that’s part of their role.

Like you know, I’m an analytics team. Here’s the data. Here’s the dashboard. And guess what? You could create the best dashboard in the world if nobody uses it or looks at it. Who cares? And so, you know, it’s always about facilitating what is going to happen from this. What is the action and the insight from here? And that’s you know, without that, what’s the point?

Yeah. It reminds me of my conversation with my youngest son yesterday where he was talking about the debate and the framework that they use to make an assertive statement, and back it up with reasoning. And here are the reasons why. 


And I see a lot of parallels with this, which is okay, you got all this data, but what does it really mean and why should someone care about it?

Why should someone care if data drives on its own? Drove. Action without you having to do anything. All of us would exercise every day. All of us would floss our teeth twice, you know, and every day.

And like, there’s just these things that, you know, the data tells you you’re supposed to do, but. You know, people don’t do it. And so it really is about explaining the why, what it means to you, and what this will do for you.

Yeah. I mean, I think you have a magical mix. If you can tie in data to what is the action that you want someone to take and how do you tell a story for them to take that action? Yeah.

Yeah. And influence. I mean, we didn’t talk about influence, right? You have to establish yourself. And I’m not just talking about an analytics team at this point. This is anyone. You’ve got to establish yourself as a trusted advisor, as a thought, you know, as a thought partner and a strategic partner. Only then can you really influence anything in a business to move forward, whether it’s, you know, the next marketing campaign, whether it’s the next, you know, dashboard or report, whether it’s the next product launch, how do you establish trust with amongst each other and, and influence things to continue to move forward? That’s really a big unlock.

Absolutely. I know we can go on and on so many topics here, but let’s wrap it up with one final question for you, which advice would you give to your younger self if you were to turn back the clock and go back to day one of your go-to-market journeys?

Wow. I would say, you know, you’ve got this. And I think, you know, some of that advice that my managers and mentors have given me is really just trust in the path that you’re on and lean into your superpowers. And this is not just advice for me, by the way. It’s advice I give my children. It’s advice I give my team. I actually did my, we had started our new fiscal year about a month ago. And at our kickoff, with my marketing team. I said there was just one mantra. I said, lean into what you’re good at and get comfortable sharing it. That’s what I want to see. You have a superpower.

There’s something that you can do better than anyone on this team. Lean into that and get comfortable sharing it and you will be successful.

In this episode, Div Manickam, product marketing leader, product marketing coach, and author defines GTM as a three-letter acronym focused on achieving alignment across stakeholders and teams within a company, particularly when launching new products or entering new markets.

Let’s step into the world of product marketing and discover the keys to thriving in today’s competitive landscape.

Listen to the podcast here:

Personal Values, Mentorship, and Career Growth: Div Manickam’s Journey in Product Marketing

Hello again. Thank you for taking the time to listen to the newest episode. Or maybe it’s your first episode of the B2B Go to Market Leaders podcast but I’m deeply, deeply grateful for you taking the time. I know you have a lot of options out there, but yeah, thanks once again. And, yeah, look forward to hearing from you at some point in time as to how things are going with the podcast. And if you have any feedback with that, I would love to invite the newest guest on the podcast. She is Div Manickam. She is a product marketing leader, product marketing coach and author. So quite a lot of ground to cover here. So with that intro, welcome to the show Div.

Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

Yeah. So it’s my pleasure. I’m looking forward to our conversations. So I always start the show with this question which the audience loves as well as the guest. It gets the conversation going in the deep end, if you will.

Signature Question: How do you view and define go to market?

I like to think of it as the three acronym, three letter acronym that we all want to be better at, but we are so striving towards it. For me, whether I’m working on a launch, whether I’m working on a new product or packaging existing products or services into a new market, go to market. GTM is what gives us the focus and alignment across stakeholders and teams within a company.

Got it. And, yeah, I’ve heard quite a few variations. And typically it boils down to like 2 or 3 points, which is it always starts with who is it that you’re really solving for, what is the specific problem you’re solving for, and how do you convey that value, so much so that they get interested in buying your product or service? Right. So that’s external. And then there’s the internal which is who owns Goodyear. Good. And well who owns GTM and go to market.

And again, go to market has a lot of variations. If you ask someone from product marketing, they’ll say, hey, I have the best view, or I own go to market. But then if you talk to a sales and revenue organisation, they say we are go to market, period. Right. And then there’s another which no one really has any real control or influence because go to market involves a product. It involves marketing, involves sales, involves customer support and success as well. So there’s no one person who owns unless in the more mature organisations it’s typically the CEO who has the influence. It’s not that it’s his or her day to day job, but, yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, the CEO will need to be involved in the go to market. So yeah, I would love to hear your thoughts on all of these things.

Absolutely. And I think you touched on a very key part, which is one of the reasons why I’m excited about where I am right now, leading product marketing for a new product launch that we are working on this year. And our company has evolved where our chief growth officer is now the head of sales and marketing, and we have brought the teams together. So we have a GTM. Alignment and all those things that are needed as part of it. I’m a true believer that if you are trying to bring GTM to life, it’s not just a matter of who owns it. Yes, product marketing touches different stakeholders in different teams. So we are well positioned to be the, the champion, the chaperone, the ambassador, whatever way you want to think of it. But a big part of it is how do we bring these teams together and have shared goals, shared OKRs so that we are all working towards the same outcome?

Yeah, we’d love to. Div. I’m sure we’ll touch upon those things, especially the shared OKRs alignment and working together. But let’s take a step back. Why don’t you walk us through your career journey? I mean, what brought you to what you are today and who do you serve in your current role?

Sure. Yeah. So a lot of. I would say a decade of experience in product marketing across fortune 500 companies and startups, primarily and mainly in the technology space. This has given me opportunities to dive in both feet, and hands and everything all in to figure out what product marketing is. How do we define it, what does it look like? And doesn’t matter which company, which team I’m in? There’s always an educational aspect of trying to understand where the company is today when it comes to product marketing, how is it perceived, where is the value? And then figuring out how can I as a contributor, as a team leader, bring those aspects together? across the journey, I think, with the Product Marketing Alliance, I’ve been fortunate to be, one of the top 100 product marketing influencers, and that has probably given me the confidence that maybe some of the questions that I’m asking is not just me, that there are others also, having similar questions and concerns and also challenging the status quo.

So I truly believe in empowering folks, whether it’s to be their best selves, to be their true, authentic selves. And so I’ve published books on my journey, all the way from stress and anxiety to leadership to product marketing and everything in between, I guess. And, I love to share my experiences on career growth, on authentic leadership, mindfulness, mental well-being, and product marketing. So you’ll see flavours of that through my LinkedIn and every, every aspect of the social sphere that I’m in.

Yeah. Very cool. So if I do go, I mean, I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile, and if I go back in time, I mean, you started off as a marketing intern, then you did some stints and Mark Marcum and then analyst and then went into technical product marketing and then eventually product marketing. So what got you into or what aspects of product marketing gravitated or pulled you in?

I knew that after I got my first job after my MBA, that product marketing is where I want to be.

It was just a matter of time for me to get there. And every job, every interview that I had at ten, 12 years ago, it was, hey, we love your energy. We love what you’re saying. But we just found someone who has got the product marketing experience. So I didn’t quite land that first job, but I knew that that was where I was headed. And so the first opportunity after my marketing communications role was to become a sales enablement manager. So I had a chance to dive into the adjacent aspects of product marketing before I really went into product marketing. So it was a long winded path. But I finally made it, and, I realised that this is right where I’m supposed to be and, kind of building my career around it. So. Yeah.

Yeah. And you also mentioned you’re not just a product marketer, but you also dabble in other aspects, including being a wellness or a leadership or a mentor and a coach, and you’re also a book author. So, yeah. Tell us about each of those. 

Well, there’s plenty more. I recently got to have my first photo exhibit, so I love photography. just a personal passion of mine, and, I think I am, an individual and an explorer who likes to try many firsts. And this is another first into my book of living. I am a big believer in wellbeing, primarily because I have experienced stress and anxiety in my own career and want to make sure that as I’m navigating through the next ten years, in the next decade that’s coming forward, that I’m thinking about those aspects as well. the books came into existence primarily from that. So the first book that I wrote was A Broken Teacup. This was my journey, going from an always optimist person to always worrying and always anxious to now finding mindfulness and self-care as part of my own well-being. I’m also part of the Chief Wellbeing Officer program at the World Happiness Foundation. going through that program right now, and I want to see what I can do to help, folks, my mentees, my students, I teach product marketing at the PMA, the Product Marketing Alliance as well.

So I like to do many things. I’ve realised that doing one thing doesn’t satisfy my own curiosity, if you will.

Yeah. I think this is the first time I’m having someone from a background with a background in mental well-being and happiness. I know we can carve out a separate podcast and deep dive on that topic, but then let’s just spend maybe a minute or so. So how do you, How do you think of happiness? Because happiness is again such a. It’s one word, but can mean so many things similar to go to market. Yeah. How do you define and how do you guide and advise folks around it?

For me, it has been the journey of opening up and being comfortable with your fears, being comfortable with your vulnerability. I got my U.S. citizenship in 2021 and I was like, I’m on my pursuit of happiness. And that was my path. And I was like, what does happiness mean? And then there are other words: joy, different aspects of it.

And so where I’m landed right now, in the past five years of my searches, I think well-being is more rounded, especially when I think about workplace well-being. And that’s the area that I’m focused on, because a lot of times we want to create that sense of belonging. We want to create that sense of camaraderie, collaboration, everything. And I think this goes very neatly to GTM, right? If all of us are not rowing in the same direction. And I take the analogy of rowing because I’m right by the Marina and we have the rowing teams around here every morning at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. it’s a team of six, seven folks, and you all have to move in the same direction. Otherwise that boat is not moving. Right. so it’s a similar analogy when I think about wellbeing and, thinking about belonging, because I have been in teams and companies where I have thrived. Right, I have and you’ll see in my LinkedIn career as well. Right. Like my path has been paved out because I was able to do the things and I had the support system, I had, everyone helping each other out.

Then I’ve been in companies where it has been a totally toxic environment, where I barely lasted a few months. And, as much as I’m an empathetic person and a leader, who’s imparting empathy in all shapes and forms, with their teams, I also realised that that is a key part to whatever you’re trying to do or achieve in a company, right? I’ve joined this new company here, and I’m just a few months in and we had our performance review, and the feedback I got was, hey, you’re doing great. And it feels like you’ve already been here for years, right? That shows that you’re doing something and that your peers recognize you, the peers, appreciate the value that you’re bringing into the team. So that’s, that’s where I think all of it comes together when it comes to well-being. Thinking about what happiness means for you. And same as the question about success, right? What does success look like for you? And if you had asked me five years ago, I would have had a totally different definition for success and happiness as compared to today.

Yeah. Success. Happiness, how others perceive you, the others expectations, your own expectations, vulnerability. I mean, so many of these things. Right. And and again, you might be happy one moment, but then the very next moment things just flip 180.

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. We just lost a very dear friend last week. And there are times where you’re like, oh my gosh, what are the life choices that I’m making? And every moment is precious, right. Like that, I think the coming back to mindfulness in some way, like being in the present and being fully present, I never understood that until just a few years ago. So yeah, I hear you loud and clear.

All right. bringing the conversation back to go to market. So tell us about what you do and where you are nowadays and what is your role like and who do you serve?

Sure. So I am the director of product marketing. It’s illegal and I am supporting the data integration product.

And this is something that we’re working towards to launch this year as part of my role, my key stakeholders are product sales and marketing and the customer success team. So we are working towards serving our internal stakeholders. But at the same time, our customers and partners who are in the data integration space, so who are looking to better understand and make sure that the data is in the right places, whether it’s going to data warehouses or data lakes and. Bringing data insights and analytics from that.

Yeah. And one key stakeholder I didn’t hear you say maybe it’s embedded within, which is the buyers and the customers. Like how do you spend time or do you spend time and how much time do you spend in understanding the buyers? And is it like a direct one on one, or is it through sales call recordings or a mix of various things?

So when I was talking to you about the external stakeholders, right. My customers and partners are equal, equally embedded into the equation.

For me, it’s all about understanding the voice of the customer, the voice of the market. So I always like to think of it as threefold. Right. Who are we targeting and why now? Right. Something has shifted in the market. What is this new thing, new opportunity, new market trend that is driving this? Yeah. Are we catching up with the market or are we creating a new wave? Right. So that’s the competition, the market landscape, if you will. And then what is our unique differentiator that will help us stand out? So we have different methods. customer one on one interviews are always top of mind for me. That’s number one. But then similarly, we also have our product Advisory Council where we are bringing customers and partners together as we are building the product and as we are doing our work on design. And what does the experience look like? We are getting that validation right. So understanding the personas, understanding the customer use cases, what is the key challenge that they want to solve right now at this moment in time.

And then kind of fine tune, our messaging positioning everything from the get go to create that go to market launch.

Yeah. I mean. 6 to 8, programs come to my mind when I think about product marketing and when I speak to other folks in the industry. Right. So it always starts with, the customer program, like the customer insights. It starts with that. And then you move on to the positioning and messaging that that’s a program or an initiative in itself. And after that it goes into sales enablement. If you are a sales lead component, or it can be like a variation, like maybe a partner lead or a partner enablement and so on. following that will be a new product launch. it can be a new market entry. And then there is product content that’s a big piece, right? At the end of the day, product marketers are really good. Product marketers are and will be good storytellers. And so how do you frame that is just not putting together a data sheet.

But then how do you frame that and convey stories in different channels and formats? Following that would be like product adoption. and I’m sure I’m missing 1 or 2. Right. But broadly speaking, this is how I think. So anything that I’m missing or anything that stands out and where you invest your time and energy into in all these.

Sure. I like to think of it as the buyer journey. Right. So that end to end from the buyer or the prospect came across a webinar, came across a demo, came across, maybe a review on a website somewhere. That’s that first touchpoint. and I like to think of it as five phases. Discover this is where they have they’re like, oh, I think I have a problem. I need to find a solution or validate whether I really have a problem. The second is your learning phase where. They’re still absorbing the information that’s out there. They’re learning about what are the challenges, what are the problems that they’re trying to solve. So this could be product web pages, content that can initially serve that initial need.

Then I’d like to look at the aspects of what am I going to do? I’m going to try. Right. This is my try phase. I’m going to try to use a demo. See what this product can do. Maybe even check out some product webinars, things like that. Then it comes to that buy phase where now they’re at the point where they’re making a decision. So they’re probably looking at analyst validations. They’re looking at customer reviews, review sites, all of the information that can come in. And then after the buy phase comes the advocacy phase, right. This is where. And this is how I think about product marketing is all of those touch points, not just, oh, I got customers to buy and my job is done. I’m going to try to bring more customers in. My job is done when I’ve actually created those customer success stories, when I have created those advocates so that they can go and build the momentum that we have started with. Right. So that’s how I like to look at it.

And, I have a ten step, product launch process so similar to what you were touching on all the way from your. I like to start first with OKRs. Right. I need to know. Yes, we need to launch a product that is crystal clear and we need to drive revenue. But I need to also know what am I working towards and what is this driving towards for the organisation at the same time? I also have 30, 60, 90 day follow up metrics and goals that we are setting within each team, right? So the marketing team has a goal product as a goal, sales as a goal. Customer success might have a goal. Even our certification training team might have a goal, right? Like, yes, we have a new product, so we need to make sure we get X amount of certifications started by day 30, completed by day 90, whatever that is. Right. So all of that has helped in becoming more methodical in the process, but also understanding that all of this feeds into keeping the buyer in mind.

Right at the end of the day, everything we are doing is for the customers, and if what we’re doing doesn’t matter for them, it’s all going to be just another piece of content that’s going to sit on the shelf.

Yeah. And in terms of OKRs, I’m sure somewhere along the lines you must be measuring specific metrics. would you mind sharing like a couple of metrics that are always on your radar and what and how you think about it.

Yeah. So, there are different ways to think of it. And, oftentimes I like being a data person, I like to think of data as the essence, but not the data as the number is going to decide your fate. so I like to look at what I can influence. Right. So when it comes to product adoption. So if we are working on in-app notifications and in-app messaging, how is that going to drive from a customer who’s currently using a part of the platform and now has this opportunity to use a new product? Right.

So product adoption metrics are some that I would consider. I also look at the sales, pipeline, metrics. So the average deal size is one that I’m always keeping an eye out for to say, okay, today our average deal size is x. Now we are starting to go up market to the enterprise. Our deal size should grow. Right. Like that’s a metric I think I can influence, because it all comes down to how we’re positioning ourselves. Who are we talking to? The persona, all of that good stuff. 

So those are a few, top of mind, but there are many others, depending on what levers we have, to pull within the organisation, how we can tie it back to our campaigns and our go to market strategy itself.

Yeah. Very cool.

So, yeah, you just touch upon the different KPIs and how you think about OKRs, working with the different teams as your partners and stakeholders. So let’s switch gears. Let’s make it even more real. Let’s get even deeper into maybe you can share, like a customer or go to market success story and a go to market failure story. And I’m sure we’ll double click on many of those. I’ll leave it to you on which one you want to go with first.

All right. Let’s always start with success. So for me, I think one of my best, success stories and probably one of the propellers in my career has been, the opportunity I had to create a whole new platform positioning and a new path to our go to market. at a company that I worked in a couple of years ago and this success story, I think the winning together has been the mindset that helped us. Right.

So as a team, we were working together as one team. This new positioning, this new narrative that we had reshaped, how we talked about ourselves as an organisation, how we talked about ourselves to the company, to our customers, to the analysts, to the media. Everything was changing. So this was a big pivot going from we’re talking to the technical buyer to now we’re going to talk to the line of business, to the business. audience. Yeah. that meant a lot of things that meant how we sold, the conversations we were having in our sales pitches. We’re shifting the people who are in those buying committees. Right. So this brought that intersection between business and it coming together. And I think that’s where the story needed to evolve, because we were not just talking to the technical audience anymore. Right. So and.

Was this at Lenovo or somewhere else?

This was at Boomi.

Yeah. Okay.

Yeah. Yeah. So this was our opportunity to recreate our story for what it looked like.

And I was able to apply similar principles at Lenovo as well as part of the data centre group as well. So this was our opportunity to recreate and have a new narrative on how we want to think about who we are and how we position ourselves. So the Boomi example was at the platform level, at a product level, and at Lenovo got to apply similar principles to create a narrative for our services organisation. So this was a great example of. Bringing teams together, right? Very quickly. As companies grow, we and as companies are in the process of growing up, a lot of things can fall apart. We might not have all the right pieces of the puzzle yet figured out, but we are all moving, right? We’re creating the rocket ship, and we’re building it and moving along the way. So that, I think, is where it all came to. And I had the opportunity to work with the product team, the sales team, customer success, documentation, user experience, everybody and anybody.

I think being the ambassador of the new story and the new message and the new go to market that we’re working on, was critical and it paved path for us to start thinking about what is the story that we want to tell the world and how are we going to tell it. And I think the success came when we were at our user conference. Fast forward nine months into the process, after we got everything from the website to every piece of information out there, how we told the story and our customers, our CEO, everybody was telling the same, platform story. I think that was the big shift that we could see. analysts were saying the same thing. We started seeing that go far and wide into the ecosystem. And that, I think, was my success story, if you will.

Well, and then I heard quite a few, important critical product marketing elements in there. You mentioned messaging, you mentioned about the shift of the buyer persona to more of a technical buyer persona.

To a business.

From a technical point of view. Yeah. So I got that wrong. So from a technical to a business buyer, you mentioned messaging, you mentioned storytelling. So walk us through that process. Like how did you come up with the personas shift, how did that translate into the positioning and messaging and then into storytelling?

So the first shift was, we had an acquisition, which led us to, go from the layers of different products to how do we think about us as a platform, how do we start looking at the acquisition? It gave us an entry point to talk to the business. Before, we were always talking to the technical buyer, the it, leader. and that led to what is our story now? How do we tell our story now? And that 360 degree pivot, is what opened up the conversation for okay, what is our story and how do we want to position it? So we had workshops to brainstorm collectively as a team to come up with that new narrative and come up with, how are we looking at it? What does this mean? That touched everywhere from new iconography to the product to new product naming conventions? Everything was getting revamped, right? And this became more holistic because it wasn’t just over launching a new product.

It was as a company, we are, we are relaunching ourselves. And so that led to the storytelling aspects and how do we tell our story, the pitch, how do we look at what is the essence, what are the themes? What are the taglines? Right. So connect everything, engage everywhere. Like that became part of the story. And, it started having that sticky factor because now the analysts were saying the same thing back to us. We were hearing it from our media publications, everything. So yeah.

Yeah. And how did you get the validation if the messaging and the story resonated with your buyers? Because at the end of the day, the real proof comes if it’s resonating with your business buyer person.

Absolutely. Yeah. So we have a customer advisory board. And so whenever we have a new shift or a new message, we test it and validate it with our customer advisory board. These are our top, 1% of our customers who believe in us and are with us in, in the ride, to the new future.

Right. So this is our opportunity to validate with them. We did a similar validation with the analysts as well. And that’s the approach that I take whenever I’m launching a new product or a new go to market, plan itself to make sure that who we think we are going to talk to is still the same folks and that they see the same way. And as I mentioned earlier, like in the user conference, our customers were telling the story back to us in their own way. Right. And that’s where things started falling in place. And you’re like, yep, this story definitely works. And, it’s still the story that is continuing to be championed. So I’m really proud of being part of the team that was able to bring that story to life.

Very cool. Yeah. So one of the things that I do when I work with my customers, I provide product marketing and growth services to B2B SaaS companies, both big and small. And one of the things that I do, and we’d love to get your thoughts on this, the as to how you would tweak or if this is resonating or not is I have like a series of interviews, interviews with my customers.

Okay. And that goes along the lines of what were you trying to solve, what made you look for alternatives in the first place. And then the next one would be who were you talking to and why did they choose me or us, depending on what we are, the entity and the organisation and follow up to that, our follow up to that would be what is the impact? I mean, how did your day to day change because of this buy or the purchase that you did? And I would also wrap it up with how do you describe us to appear in your industry?

Yeah. I have a similar set of questions. I call it my interview, question bank, if you will. I use a similar approach. Right. Like, I like to understand what their day in their life looks like. What are the current challenges that are in the industry? Right. Sometimes industry and industry to industry, the needs might be different. regulatory industries may have a little bit more friction in getting to where they want to get to.

And so those are all factors that I do consider. And I also like to understand. If these are customers that are using the product, let’s say they’ve used the product for a year or so, then where do they see the value? Right? Like I have a value proposition for how I’m seeing based on my initial customer interviews. But once the customer started using the product, I would like to understand where they are seeing the value today? What is it that we are still missing and that creates a path for our future roadmap as well. So I’d like to leave that into the customer interview or the voice of the customer process as well. Yeah. Looking forward to it as well. Right. Like where if we are continuing this and where do you see yourself in the future? What are your goals? What are you working towards and how can we continue to be part of that partnership together and be a trusted advisor at the end of the day.

Right. And then how do you bring it to life in the sense, yes, it’s good to get these interviews and insights, but we’re doing a disservice to ourselves and the organisation if it’s not, if we’re not bringing it out in the world.

So how do you, what is your process and how do you take it out, like in terms of storytelling, messaging, website content and so on.

So that is the ten step process that I talk to you about, right? Like all the way from OKRs to creating the go to market kickoff. Right. It’s not just me as an individual launching this. It’s a collective. And so bringing the team together is a big believer of cross-functional collaboration. So having and bringing the peers and stakeholders early on in the process is important for me. Right? We don’t want to walk ten steps only to realise now we have to walk back 20 steps. So we try to bring folks along. Right now we’re working through some key elements of initial foundations right? Pricing, packaging, naming, like what are we going to call this product. So this is all happening as we speak and it is bringing the teams together, but also making sure that we have the resources and the time to put all of this together.

So our go to market launch process can be anywhere from 3 to 6 months to nine months, sometimes. Right. depending on the scope of the project that we’re working on, depending on what it is that we’re working to launch. So these are all things that are part of the launch process and launch template and start with the initial planning all the way to execution, which is all the content we need to put together web pages, assets, demos, webinars, everything that goes into getting this message out there in the world. So that’s part of the process as well.

Yeah. Very cool. And then going back to my question, the earlier question was just there is a good market success story and there is a go to market failure story. So let’s talk about the failure story and the lessons learned.

Well, the failure story is more that the teams couldn’t quite see the end light. and so we started working on, we know today, right in the world that we are in, there’s a lot of competition.

Everyone is always out to get a slice of the pie, if you will, and where it gets difficult is where it doesn’t feel like we are all working towards the same goal. And unfortunately, there are situations like that where the teams are competing with each other and they all have different goals and different priorities. And so even moving one step forward can feel like you’re climbing a mountain. And, sometimes you’re also stepping on each other’s toes because everybody is trying to do the same thing, duplicating the efforts. And that doesn’t go anywhere either. Right? So those are the environments that I was talking to you where it can get very toxic very quickly. And, as much as everybody wants to move forward, we are all pulling each other backward. And that’s not a good place to.

And was it again a Dell Boomi or somewhere else.

It was a different company. Yeah.

Okay. Yeah. Got it. And then what were the learnings and how did you take it forward. Like how did you correct it going forward.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to correct it, but I definitely learned a lot from it. because it is important to have a team that is supportive and that is, it comes back to that sense of belonging. Right. as much as your job was giving you the paycheck, that’s not primarily why we are doing what we do. We are equally just as passionate about what we can do for the organisation, for the company, and for our customers. So bringing that alignment and holding on to your values, right? I, I’m a big believer of, three key values. The first one is inspiring. So it’s important for me to build that trust and credibility. Number one the second one is about influence. So I am a big believer in extreme ownership. Right? Own the good, the bad and the ugly. And the third is about impact. So this is all about results and relationships. As much as we are working towards achieving those OKRs and numbers and all of those metrics, if you will, when I look back at my career, it’s not the numbers that strike out for me.

It’s the relationships that I built. So those three have been the. Values that I have held. True and that has kept me grounded and has also helped me realise that if some things are not working out, it’s okay to find other paths. And, you don’t always. And this also was part of my stress and anxiety that I navigated through. So I think it all comes full circle at the end of the day. But, understanding what is important for you is just as, just as much required.

Yeah. In my mind, I mean, the biggest learning is more at a personal level in this case, where as much as you want to and want to have an impact, at the same time, there are factors outside your control, the environment and the people that are not in your control. It goes back to mental well-being and it’s okay. I need to take care of myself. I need to be kind to myself. And, this is what I can do. I did my best. From an input point of view, output is also how much I can control and again goes back to the bigger one, which is go to market, who owns go to market.

And it comes back to that. And that’s where I think there’s a lot of division of The ownership aspect, right? If it was a co-ownership or co-creation? I think that’s a much more feasible model, if you will. Like today, product marketing doesn’t function by itself. We function in parallel to our product management team. And when I’ve had an amazing product manager, we have seen success come and come through because we are both supporting each other and we are both working towards the same goal. But when that doesn’t happen and when there’s friction within the organisation, right. Another big topic that just came to mind is where does product marketing sit? Is it under the product? Is it under marketing? And sometimes that can also lead to part of the friction. So I’ve seen it play out in different shapes and forms.

And I’m sure we can have debates and discussions along the way. But that, that is critical when, when you’re trying to figure out what does go to market mean and how is that structured within the organisation? Are you a sales leader? Your product lead like all of those factors play a big role. But once you know where you are and where you’re headed, it’s very important to bring the teams along. And, for those, it doesn’t make sense. there are other parts for that for sure.

Yeah. So we touched upon quite a few points over here. I mean, clearly there are learnings that lessons and the new frameworks and and things that we all I mean, for me, me, myself as well, I mean, this is one of the reasons why I do podcast is allowed to meet experts out there in their own fields and, and then learn and share the learnings. So along those lines, I know you authored a couple of books. You’re also with the Product Marketing Alliance. So what other resources do you lean on, or what is the 1 or 2? What are the 1 or 2 resources that you lean on or people you lean on daily?

Sure. So, I came up with this idea, or what I call the skills that are must have, for us to be successful as a product marketer as you’re working on launch or go to market, whatever it is. And it’s the CEO mindset. And by CEO I’m talking about curiosity and openness, right. We should be able to challenge the status quo. We should be able to. Understand where the friction is and find creative ways to come up with solutions that will move things forward, to drive growth, to drive innovation. So every time, it’s always been those synergies and bridges that you can build. And fundamentally it’s about understanding people at its core. Right? it’s not the job title. It’s not the role, but it’s the individual that you’re working with and how you can support each other. So. Books have been a big, big part, for me, ever since I took the path of being a leader, supporting my communities, whether it’s the PMA, whether it’s other mentoring communities that I’m part of.

That has always been an engaging factor for me, just meeting other folks. That’s one of the reasons why I love to be part of podcasts is I get to connect with other folks that are in the same mindset, in the same environment, and they’re also coming with new perspectives. So lots of resources out there. I think there are lots of books that have guided me through the process. I think “The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho” is one of the number one books that I think over the past five years have been following me, through my journey. And every time I have my doubts, I literally have the book in hand to help me guide myself. So I’ve been very fortunate. There have been lots of folks that have influenced my career. I always give a shout out to my fearless leader, Steve, who probably believed in me more than myself and saw something that I could go from an IC to a leader and was always there for his team. Right? It comes back to that sense of belonging.

Like, you knew that whatever you did, you were always working on the right thing and that he had your back. And that’s life changing. Having a leader like that also helped me realise what kind of a leader I wanted to be, right? Someone who’s authentic, who’s not saying one thing and doing the opposite on the other side. Like, that’s the kind of person that I want to live up to. so being able to empower everyone along the way.

Yeah. For sure. So the other topic that comes to my mind and which is unique and it brings out a good discussion, which is like, what are the 1 or 2 things that people in your organisation reach out to you for? Like, for example, if they come across a challenge or a situation from a go to market perspective and they say, hey, you know, what is the person that I need to speak with? So what are those 1 or 2 things that they come to you for?

Probably more for brainstorming than anything else.

I am a big believer that collectively we can solve any problem at hand, but we should come with that open mindset, right? That CEO mindset that I talk to you about, having empathy, is one of the reasons why I’ve had my mentees, my students, my teams come to me and say, hey, this is what I’m going through. This is what I’m navigating. one area that I think since I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder in 2020, has opened up doors for others to feel comfortable because I’ve been sharing my story, and it was only after I shared my story that I realised I had two team members of my own team who had similar struggles, but they never felt comfortable sharing before. Right? So those are the things that people generally come to me for advice. I think I took a path. I have my own personal OKRs, and every year I look at it and say, okay, what is my next year going to be? And to be a mentor, to be a guide, is something that is important for me.

It’s one of those things that matter, right? Like when I look back at my life, that’s one of the things that I will cherish. And so that’s the opportunity, right? How can you be a sounding board? Can you share experiences so that they can maybe take something from it and then apply it onto their own thinking?

Very cool. So, yeah, it looks like you built your career in product marketing, and now you’re a product marketing leader, potentially leading a team. But we never talked about the team and the marketing organisation. So can you shed some light on that?

Sure. So today I’m an individual contributor. But in the past, I’ve had opportunities to lead teams. So I’ve had, from a team of four, I’ve grown the team to 13 in 18 months. in my experience at Lenovo. I’ve had a team of both product marketing and product management, a team of 25, in, literally ten countries around the world, from North America to Latin America, EMEA, as well as Asia Pacific.

So, yeah, I love working with teams, and I think that’s what led me to become the mentor that I am today, because I see the opportunity in unlocking their potential and helping them see what they can do and just be a guide for them.

Yeah. So did you want to go into an individual contributor role? I know people who have aspired to be people leaders. They did the people leader thing, and then they realised, you know, what individual contributor role in a senior position is what they are meant to be and how they can deliver impact. So is that something that you did intentionally?

I wouldn’t say it’s intentional, but I’m always open for opportunities wherever the path takes me. And this opportunity has given me the work life balance that I’m looking for, the opportunity to try and do different things. and this is where I call my portfolio life. So I am, maybe five parts, right? I’m a product marketer. I’m a mentor, I’m a teacher, I’m an explorer, a photographer, an author, all of those things.

And I want to do the things that matter. And I’m a student at the same time. Right. I’m learning languages on Duolingo just because I want to learn. And I don’t think all of those will be feasible if I have what I had before. And now I’m also taking care of my own mental well-being and taking care of the people that I work with. So it’s a cross collaboration. At the end of the day, whether I’m a people leader or not, I know I’m a people leader, and that’s that’s all that matters. I’m not a big believer in titles and positions. I think product marketing has taught me that influence and inspiration comes from within. And you can lead, folks, whether you have the title or not.

Yeah. No. Fair enough. I think that’s a much bigger discussion. We can have a whole podcast topic around how you build your identity. First of all, do you tie your identity towards a job title? Why or why not? Why should someone care? Why should others? Why should you care?

That’s pretty much how we have been trained, through life.

Right? It’s the credentials that define who you are. And I want to break that stigma as well, amongst many other stigmas that I’m working to break from mental well-being to, just taking care of your own self. It’s okay to take care of your own self, because if you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of your team. You can’t take care of your mentees, your family, your community for that matter. So yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.

For sure. Yeah. So the other part, the other part of the question, which I didn’t get answers for, is you did mention about the product marketing structure, but how about other parts within marketing? And you also mentioned I think the CRO now owns both marketing and sales. So sheds light on the idea and sales. 

Yeah. So how. Yeah. If you can share of course, without going into too much detail in terms of how the marketing and the sales are structured, and then how do you interact, like how do you shape your interactions as the product marketing leader?


So it is part of the GTM, right? It is driving the growth factor, into where we want to be as an organisation. 


And that has been part of the equation of how do we bring those teams together so that we can all work and grow in the same direction, if you will?

Yeah. Fair enough. All right. The final question for you is what advice would you give to your younger self if you were to turn back the clock and go back to day one of your go to market journey?

I would say be patient, to myself, to really listen. Because sometimes others perceptions can shape or break your identity and what you are working towards. And then please, please be empathetic to yourself if things don’t seem to be working, if it feels like a struggle day in and day out, it’s not worth it. I’ve had so many students, so many mentees come and share short stories after stories of what it’s like in their organisation or what is working, what is not working.

And it’s appalling sometimes to be like, how can we keep doing this day in and day out? And it still continues to be the case, right? We’re all going through layoffs, in organisations and. Somewhere down the line. I think we have to be really mindful of how we look at employee satisfaction, right? We all believe in customer satisfaction. We talk about customer lifetime value, but not much emphasis on employee well-being. And, as much as we’re doing what we can. Right. Mindfulness app is not going to solve the internal challenges that an organisation might have. So. I’m a big believer of Simon Sinek, so the concept of starting with why has always got me to ask the question, and also shape the future of authentic leadership across right where without people and without values, there are no companies. So maybe we can part with that thought.