Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor

Lizzie Yarbrough de CantorShare

Senior Director Product Marketing, Stash
Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

I do think this is highly dependent on the type of product you are taking to market, but here are some go-tos I use.

  1. Keep it simple: Make sure you focus any training decks in the simplest, most customer centric language. It’s often easy to use technical terminology and/or internal acronyms and names that will not help that sales rep learn or relate to the customers they are interacting with!
  2. Stay value-focused: It is also really easy to go into deep detail on product features and find yourself building a demo-ish presentation. Put yourself in that rep’s shoes, they need to be focused on values and benefits for their buyer over the minutiae of clicks in product. It is your job as a PMM to be able to take all the feature-level details and package it up into meaningful value that a rep can communicate to their prospects.
  3. Don’t forget sales is a customer: I have seen too many times, training decks that just focus on tangible product experience or messaging. I think one of the most important perspectives to keep in mind as you work through a new training is that sales will be thinking “what’s in it for me?”. You should always be thinking and framing any enablement content on how this is going to help your sales team reach their quota or whatever target they are pacing toward. If you can’t draw this connection, your average rep is not going to use this material.
  4. Bring VOC into your training: By the time you are ready to release a new product, you have hopefully had a healthy amount of customers test the experience. Find simple ways to inject the voice of the customer into your training—zoom meeting clips, emails with feedback, beta slack channels—there are tons of sources! If you can incorporate this as proof into your training, it brings that much more energy for the field teams.
Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

This is a topic I am super passionate about at the moment. We are going through a lot of this with my current team. It can be so easy to find yourself launching and communicating to your customer in the way your product team is organized instead of how that customer experiences your products. Also don’t sweat too much, this is natural because of how most product marketing teams orient themselves to their product and engineering organizations. But let’s be real, it’s a bad habit.

Here is how we are tackling it currently:

  1. Give yourself permission to organize based on your customer’s vantage point: For us, this means defining persona ownership for each member of the product marketing team. For some of my other PMM colleagues, it may mean owning specific points in the customer lifecycle like activation or growth and retention. When each PMM is given space to go deep and focus on a specific audience segment’s perspective as they search, discover, use, and hopefully find value in your products, they are able to see your product suite with new eyes.
  2. Don’t forget to organize for customer impact: My first bullet may sound too rosey. You can’t forget to support your partners in product management as they release and push updates to the product. What we have done at my company is take a really critical look at our product team and allocate dedicated product marketing coverage only to those squads who are shipping features that have an impact on the customer. In an ideal state, I’d like to see my team spending 75% of their time thinking across our full product suite to make sure we are driving the most impact for their persona, and 25% of their time making sure we stay on top of our product release cycles. Also, build a good launch tiering system for yourself to make sure you aren’t spending too much time on small features. A support article is often enough!
  3. Find creative ways for your whole team to get together and repackage: I cannot say enough for how valuable I find it whenever the full product marketing team at my company can get together for creative workshopping time—we call it “the braintrust” on our team. :) It is really easy to only focus on what’s new when you are launching something, but that is not giving credit to the amazing product you are supporting! Any new feature may allow you to speak differently about value when packaged up with all the other goodness already built into your product! Using a visual collaboration tool—like Freehand or Miro—to map out customer segments, what they care about most, and then seeing how your different product offerings fit into those is a really good place to start when trying to think bigger about your customer journey.
  4. Be willing to test it out ahead of your sales team: I find that one of the most important ways I build trust with my sales org and confidence in a go-to-market plan is being willing to throw myself in the ring first. Most products often go through some sort of pre-release or beta phase ahead of a GA release and campaign. Use this time to start testing out messaging and value statements on real customers, and think about how it might package up better if you look across products. Get yourself a BFF or two in sales and ask if you can try out early cuts of decks or demos on a few of their customer calls. Most reps are thrilled to have a product expert on with their customers!
Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

When it comes to PMM core duties, typically who are the best partners in the sales org, who has the knowledge and the customer touch points to really help PMMs win?

I imagine this is specific to each organization, but for me it’s all about identifying your power players within sales and customer success. In my team’s onboarding, I actually recommend finding a “BFF” on sales and marketing in their first 90 days. It pays major dividends in their success down the road. Here are the teams and personality traits I find myself looking for:

  1. Sales engineering or solutions consulting: Just make this entire team your best friend. I have never found a bad partner in my pre-sales team. They are typically super connected to buyer perspective and are more likely to be strategic thinkers that can test things on the fly for product marketing. They are also a great extension of any launch strategy and change management for things like existing demos or collateral.
  2. Customer Success: I can’t say enough for finding a CS BFF. Customer success engagements are often the best leading indicator of general customer health and what to expect during renewals. Find a customer success manager or two who will allow you to ride along on calls or build things like Chorus or Gong playlists for you to listen into and commit yourself to actually listening!
  3. Account Execs: This is a tricky one. If you make yourself too open, you may find yourself at the end of a never-ending request list from certain folks on your sales team. My approach to finding good partnership with specific reps comes via sales management. I typically ask managers for a rep or two to connect with on an initiative as it arises. Also, pay attention to who is proactive to your communications. Certain reps are more likely to respond to your slack messages and requests for help in team channels. That is a good signal that they are eager to partner.
  4. Sales & CS Management: The last group that is important is your frontline managers. I find from an enablement perspective, any material or program you release is only as powerful as your sales management adoption. If the managers aren’t bought in and won’t reinforce with their teams, you are not going to see success. And on the flip side, they are great to get better insight into challenges and focus areas for their team that can help you prioritize what you work on at scale vs. the loudest voice in the virtual room or slack. :)
Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

This one ties back up to the question about good sales partnerships. :) I think the best way to create successful scripts is to do so in partnership with your pre-sales team. They have more knowledge of what is going on in a buyer’s head during each stage of your sales process.

Hopefully, this means someone in sales engineering or solutions consulting that can partner up with you on any new demo or updates to existing demos. If that is not available to you, then go to your account executive BFF. You need to make sure it is the type of AE who is more strategic and can think on their toes. This is not something I find in all reps.

Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

I have a couple of weekly touchpoints with my sales team. We hold a weekly pipeline review where all of marketing and sales leadership sit together and review the state of our pipeline and try to get ahead of any major problems before it’s too late. This is typically a sales-driven meeting, but is a good way to make sure we can spot challenges before they become overwhelming. The second touchpoint is a weekly “standup”. Let me be honest, it’s not a standup like most of us know. It’s a weekly commitment from our sales leadership and product marketing to align on any high priority initiatives or work we need to track. We have the time held every week, but do not always meet. If there isn’t anything to review or this can be done asynchronously, we opt for that.

There are a few principles that I think are pretty important to keep in mind to make sure you are staying plugged into sales without setting your team up to be constantly responding to field requests.

  1. Make sure there is full representation in any regular check-ins with sales. If your company is global, make sure you have a time where all regions can be present. Also, it is easy for your largest customers to get the most attention—this sucks for more junior reps. Have leadership representation from all of your sales segments when you meet. For me, it is our global team leads from the strategic, enterprise, and growth segments to be sure I’m hearing from everyone.
  2. Do not set up weekly 1:1s with a specific manager. This is a really easy way to skew your own resourcing and get out of sync with your wider customer base. It can be tempting, but I really discourage it!

Whenever possible, go to existing sales meetings. Your sales team’s time is super valuable. Anytime they are not engaging with customers is time away from driving revenue for the business. Keep that in mind as you schedule time. For me, it’s usually easier to ask for 20 minutes of an existing meeting vs. finding a way to schedule something new. What time already exists in your sales team’s weekly engagements, and how can you take advantage of that?

Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

That really depends on the focus of the event. In my experience, product marketing and sales enablement typically run about a 50/50 split on content sharing. The last few days of our kick-off are often deep in sales training or process updates which typically don’t involve product marketing.

What we do often own is any product or program spotlight that is of high focus for our customer facing teams. Figuring out what is “high focus” is a joint decision with Sales and CS leadership. In one kick-off, this meant a half day dedicated to a new product we were releasing. In another, we carried a large part of the content to lead the full team through new persona trainings and workshopping discovery methods the team might start using.

All-in-all, I find that product marketing typically has a pretty important seat at the table for content development of your kick off event. But I think agenda and overall programming should be owned by your sales enablement and/or sales team leadership if that’s available to you. Also, get your general marketing team involved to make sure your sales team understands all of the activities marketing will be doing to drive top of funnel demand for them.

Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

This is a great question. If you are referring to a strapped product marketing team, I think dedicated resources for areas like partner enablement and competitive intelligence are a pretty big luxury.

If you have the ability to hire someone specific for partner or channel strategy, then go for that. If not, I truly think this falls lower on a priority list. The way I’d recommend handling partner enablement is to take a look at materials you provide to your reps. Is this collateral you could give to your business development and/or partner team that they might be able to adjust slightly to meet their needs? Start there and see how it goes.

Also, in general, good priority is set at the company level. Is partner and channel growth more important in a given quarter than your general sales strategy? If so, then it’s worth prioritizing. Look to your managers and leadership team to help you understand what business outcomes are the most important if it isn’t clear.

Lizzie Yarbrough de Cantor
Senior Director Product Marketing, StashOctober 28

This feels like the ultimate question for this topic!! Balancing strategic vs. reactional requests coming out of sales is a tough dance. I typically stay away from promising things like a one-sheet or any request that is so specific it will not scale or have a long shelf life. My approach is to try and dig deeper into the source of these types of requests, it is usually reactionary and based on a single customer interaction which is any easy way to shed light on why it is not a good use of product marketing time.

What I do focus on is how we can enhance our core “sales kit” that is available to anyone on our customer facing teams. As we think about a new feature launch or addressing changes a competitor has made, it’s best to think holistically. How is that new feature becoming a slide in our roadmap deck? Or how does this change a value statement or addressable markets we can go after?

If it doesn’t build on the central foundation, then I do not think of it as a good use of product marketing time. Here are a few examples of things that I do think may require one-pagers:

  • Pricing tables and things to help your reps and customers understand how your products are priced.
  • Competitive battle cards, for internal use(!), and comparison matrixes for competitors if that is part of your go to market approach.
  • Persona frameworks and discovery guides. This falls into foundational work, but is so important to keep short and digestible to make sure your sales team can engage!
Credentials & Highlights
Senior Director Product Marketing at Stash
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Miami, FL
Knows About Sales Enablement