Sahil Sethi

Sahil SethiShare

Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp
Deep experience in product and growth marketing in companies like Klaviyo, Qualtrics and Microsoft. Believe that Product Marketing is one of the most important and strategic functions in any B2B co...more
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Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 19

For tenured PMM roles (e.g. team leads/directors or senior/principal PMMs who may not be team leads), I do ask for an assignment

We usually give an open question that mimics a real business situation (often a challenge we are facing). It could be around marketing to a new audience, or launching a new product, or some change in positioning and messaging we’d like to effect. The final presentation is usually a 30-60 min 1:many presentation where you (the candidate) has the freedom to decide how they want to use the time

I am looking for both functional PMM skills (e.g. messaging, building a GTM plan) and leadership skills (influence and persuasion, communication skills) suitable for their tenure.

Tips - Really important to ask a ton of questions and deconstruct the problem, espeically if it is ambiguous and open ended. Don’t jump to conclusions , especially if you have seen a similar situation in your previous experience. Every company has its unique challenges. Ask the right questions, and share your assumptions

Bring examples of customer centricity. The response to every GTM challenge (doesn’t matter if it is about messaging, enablement, packaging or new launches) starts with understanding the customer challenge and pain points. If that is not given, it should be the first question you ask

The presentation format also demonstrates your ability to run a meeting - a key skill for PMMs who are often orchestrators of key projects. Be prepared to engage a broader group. Emphasize strong storytelling over process. Be clear and confident in your communication

Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 19

Good question. As PMMs, our roles touch so many aspects of the company that ROI could be hard to define. My advice to every PMM is to think through the impact of their work, and the process of measuring their impact --- on a day to day basis, and not after the activity. So when the question does come up, you have a response ready. 

ROI can be measured both in terms of quantifiable business metrics as well as your impact on people, on the company brand, on the product roadmap or the company strategy

For business metrics, be clear about metrics that your work directly influences. It could be awareness metrics (share of voice, brand awareness, brand perception), acquisition metrics (leads, MQLs, pipeline), conversion metrics (win-rates, conversion rates, sales velocity) , retention metrics (churn/expansion, upsell/cross-sell rates), adoption metrics (30/60/90 day adoption by features or personas), or overall business metrics (revenue, ARR)

e.g. “Since we launched the new messaging, our sales win rates have increased by 20%. Some of this is due to better training and onboarding of our reps, but a lot of that is our emphasis on competitive differentiators in the new messaging and the quality of enablement that I led” is a great response if your work centers around sales enablement

Or “My work on setting up our launch engine is leading to better, more timely communication of our feature updates to both customers and partners. The social buzz around our launches is high, and we are seeing our users come back and use the product more. The cohorted weekly active user count is up and we are exceeding the 30-day adoption targets for every single feature launched last year. Our renewal rates are also up by 5 points and a lot of it is due to our launch and innovation momentum that is directly impacted by my work “ is also a good response

It is possible that you work in an organization where the linkage between your work and business success isn’t clear. Or it’s not something that your current manager has ever cared about. This is where you have to do the hard work of working with someone in ops/BI and trying to quantify that impact. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But you need to demonstrate the process of thinking through impact.

Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 19
  • Not being able to strongly respond to the question “Can you pitch your product to me ?”
  • Not being ready with good writing samples
  • Not coming with strong examples of your leadership skills - influence, persuasion, relationship building, collaboration and more

These questions demonstrate the fundamental aspects of product marketing. The first is about messaging/positioning/value prop. The second is about whether you can write/communicate that in words (even a pitch deck or a webinar abstract or a demo video whose script you wrote is a writing sample). The third is about your ability to work with others and be a connector and orchestrator. I believe you will get one of these questions, or their derivatives, in most PMM interviews

Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 19

I think the best product marketing candidates have three things in common

  • They are strong on the core requirements for the role. In most cases, it involves a degree of comfort with developing or activating messaging/positioning/value propositions for products/solutions/audiences/segments. They can simplify complex ideas, convey it in different media types and can explain the process behind it confidently

  • They are natural collaboators and very very strong at working with others. Could be product, sales, CS, other folks in marketing. Best PMM candidates, even the junior ones, can comfortably play an aligner/orchestrator role. They can bring consensus and calm to heated discussions, and connect different factions together

  • They have a ‘growth mindset’. Strong PMM candidates know that PMM is a ‘breadth function’ and that they will often wear multiple hats -even if it is not part of their job description today. Strong PMMs are adaptive and flexible, eager to learn new skills and take on new challenges and help drive ownership and accountability with a strong ‘growth mindset’
Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyOctober 9

There are so many good responses to launch tiering here. I am going to focus on KPIs in my response here

I broadly categorize launch KPIs into three parts - Engagement, Adoption and Revenue

1. Engagement KPIs - measure engagement with launch content. Anything from # attendees, # visitors, # viewers, blog visits, email open rates/CTRs, PR pickup, social engagement (e.g. retweets) by channel. Irrespective of launch tier, super important to measure engagement of content leading up to the launch, actual launch attendance and post launch buzz (E.g. 7 day social mentions)

2. Adoption KPIs - For GA features, important to measure 7 day/30 day/90 day/180 day sign-up or adoption metrics. Could be no of users (e.g. WAU), or feature page visits, or other metrics you may have for your product's usage and adoption. For non-GA features, you typically want to look at sign-ups requests assuming you are running a limited preview/beta program

3. Revenue KPIs - Big fan of measuring ARR impact - particularly retention/expansion, and sometimes acquisition/new ARR. This is particularly important for Tier-1 launches with major market impact, and requiring major marketing treatment. Leading indicator here is pipeline / leads - either directly arising from launch events, or influenced by the launch. Not uncommon to accompany launch events with some physical ABM activations . Any new pipeline generated from those events is part of the launch impact. Any existing pipeline accelerated at those ABM events is part of the launch impact. That thinking can be applied to all new and existing opportunities influenced by ALL launch tactics - event attendance, webinars, trainings etc. Good launches are accompanied by thematic campaigns. e.g. at Qualtrics, when we launched our new AI features for our market research product, we ran campaigns/case studies/webinars/thought leadership on the importance of Intelligence. All marketing was working towards that message for a whole quarter. That led to a measurable bump in pipeline -- which we all quantified as launch impact. 

Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 19

Note - I don’t always look for autonomy unless I believe it is a key requirement for the role. Many PMM roles require more execution skills, a hustle mindset and someone who can get things done - even if it requires a bit of handholding and coaching along the way

However, if autonomy is what the role demands , I try and suss it out by asking a ton of follow questions to standard behavioral questions. When a candidate explains a story/situation from their previous work experience, I often double click and ask questions like - “Tell me the process of how you arrived at that answer”, “How did the team build that campaign”,What happened after the first meeting when this idea was proposed ? How was it put into action” , “Who was the project lead on this initiative ? What was your role in this ?” “How did you measure you were doing a good job? What would have happened if you didn’t meet this goal” and so on

Through questions like these, and more - I am trying to understand their role on the project. Are they the leader, the driver, the orchestrator, the project manager, or something else ? Are they working independently or constantly needing coaching ? Did they feel a sense of accountability and ownership to the discussion ? Were they responsible for the project success or simply around success ?

Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyOctober 26

Ah, I am assuming you mean PMM ‘hard skills’ like positioning, launches, enablement etc. and not soft skills/leadership skills like communication, goal setting, team building etc.

There are three hard skills I expect every PMM leader to have

  • Ability to answer three questions well "What, Why, How" for any product , for any audience (Positioning and messaging)
  • Ability to train an internal team (ideally sales or CS) on that narrative. (Enablement)
  • Ability to storytell the product to a customer (Demo)

In short, I expect every PMM leader to have built a detailed messaging framework, a customer pitch deck and an ideal demo - and delivered that to customers and internal teams. If you have done that well, and enjoy doing it again and again , and can coach others on how to do that well - you have the minimum ‘must-haves’ for a PMM leader

The next set of hard skills I would optimize for will be GTM strategy development, product launches, compete , pricing/packaging, persona research etc.

Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 19

As long as you have generally worked in functions in or adjacent to product marketing (e..g content, campaigns, market research etc.), my guidance is to always use one resume that covers the breath of your experiences. 

I see some candidates fret over preparing a resume that is more tailored to PLG, and another that speaks to enablement, or another that is more tailored around launches - depending on what they believe the role demands. I don’t think that is necessary. All hiring managers appreciate a breadth of experiences and would like to see the entirety of you in your resume

However, If you are applying to product marketing from a different function altogether (e.g. CS, Product management, Ops etc.), then it might make sense to have a ‘PMM friendly’ version when applying to product marketing roles. Highlight any experiences that will be relevant to the product marketing role

One tip for functional transitions. It may be useful to write a cover letter explaining your relevant experiences, and your motivations, when applying to a product marketing role from another function. Not every hiring manager read cover letters, but those who do will appreciate listening about you in your own words. Cover letter also demonstrate clarity of thought, self-awareness and written communication skills - all key components to success as a PMM

Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 19

Differentiators

Good messaging smartly incorporates differentiators. Yes messaging is about the outcomes and benefits, it is about the category and the disruptions , it is about value pillars but great messaging smartly incorporates differentiators in that work

When you describe your product with adjectives like easy to use, flexible, integrated, intelligent, automated, enterprise-grade, accessible, secure, powerful, unified, all-in-one etc - you are indirectly conveying why your product is different/better than others. When done well, this is the key area you demonstrate how you are different

Differentiators could be on features that are unique to your product, or market leadership (e.g. #customers, volume of data), on vision, or simply execution and innovation. Best differentiators are a combination of all these.

True story - I was once in a scenario where we were up against an incumbent. They had more customers and a rich feature set but their innovation was stagnating. We had more engineers and bigger investments on the product, and our innovation momentum was strong (e.g. no of releases in the previous 12 months). We highlighted our innovation momentum and vision as a key differentiator. Combined with customer proof points and case studies, we dramatically improved our win rates (even though the products were very similar)

In very competitive scenarios, the best way to understand differentiators is to ask customers why they chose you over others. This could come through win-loss surveys, or direct customer interviews. You could have the best ‘AI engine’ on the planet, but if that’s not the reason your customers are choosing you over competition, maybe it doesn’t deserve to be in the list of top 4 differentiators (even if your product team feels otherwise). Good messaging balances the "voice of the customer" with the product truth to create a truly differentiated and winning value proposition

Building differentiators is not enough. It is important to make sure this is well represented in your customer’s buying journey. Make sure your sales reps are trained to describe your competitive differentiators in a demo, a cold call and every solution presentation. Make sure your web copy highlights not just what you do (features) and why does it matter (outcomes) but also the how you do it in a manner that is unique and differentiated.

PMM is in a unique place not just to create these differentiators but also to make sure they are consistently used and described by everyone. This comes from the right enablement and company wide activation - and often requires CEO/top down support and alignment. The goal is to make sure that everyone - the CEO, the sales teams, the partners, the CSMs and everyone in marketing has the same response to the question “What is unique about xyz? How are you different that others“

Finally, when it comes to specific competitors, it is important to condense all talking points in the form of a battlecard that sales teams could use. If you have a more PLG led self-serve motion, sometimes you can articulate these competitive differentiators on the website directly as comparisons. Either way - important to highlight two things

  • What are the reasons why customers choose you ? Remember: it is not just about the features.
  • Substantiate with real customer examples
Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, BetterUp | Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInseyNovember 5

Congratulations on working for such an innovative company. Having frequent product enhancements is a good thing, and help creates the perception that you are an innovation powerhouse.

The most important step to managing frequent launches is having a launch tiering system - with each tier getting different levels of marketing treatment. There are various ways to decide launch tiers - depending on the feature's revenue impact, storytelling potential, competitive enhancement and other criteria. This question has excellent responses on Launch tiering. https://sharebird.com/h/product-marketing/q/how-do-you-tier-your-launches-and-what-kpis-do-you-assign-to-each-tier

Here are some tips to help manage frequent feature communications (typically minor feature updates)

  • Identify your audience and develop a comms plan. Generally speaking, most minor, incremental updates are best meant for existing customers and partners. Major updates or thematic announcements are suitable for the entire market - including prospects

  • Think about the channels available to you for reaching existing customers. You can send emails and in-app notifications. You can create web pages or blog posts for every feature, or at minimum have a running list of updates on a "what's new this month" page. You can use communities (both your own as well as third party communities). You can push the updates via CSMs. Have a comms plan for each channel

  • Next think of the right frequency for utilizing each channel. An email to all customers, or a notification inside the product - every time a new feature is released, is noisy. What’s better is monthly product update emails. Or an in-app modal announcing/linking to this month's features/ They build consistency and predictability. When done well over time, they build anticipation as well. Similarly, asking CSMs to present a few slides, almost all with similar formatting, in every monthly check-in might be more advantageous than asking them to send special updates every week or whenever the feature is released

I personally find monthly product launches work great if you have a rich roadmap of features this year. A monthly launch includes emails, in-app notification, your own brand social accounts, some community/partner updates, CSM trainings and more. For major updates, having quarterly or bi-annual launch events make more sense

  • There are some channels where “real-time” updates make sense. Having a running list of “What’s new” on your website is good. Maybe announcing a sought after feature in GA in your partner slack channel is good. But these should be far and few. Example of how Klaviyo does this https://www.klaviyo.com/product/whats-new and how we did this at Qualtrics https://www.qualtrics.com/product-updates/?date=2022-November

  • Finally - what really helps reduce noise is to package the announcements as part of a theme. Ideally - your entire product roadmap and R&D investments are aligned around several themes , which have been communicated externally as well and connotate the various innovation pillars you want your product to be known for. e.g. one theme could be AI/intelligence- building smarter, AI driven features that provide predictive or prescriptive insights. Another theme could be “ease of use” - providing capabilities that makes the product easier to use - fewer clicks, design updates, more automation, more templates etc. Another could be security/governance wherein you talk about your investments in user permissions, RBAC, privacy settings, user management etc. Common themes include scalability, automation, extensability etc. You can choose to communicate these themes in unique storytelling ways that are true to your brand tone and voice. 

  • Themes also make small updates bigger than they are. By themselves, a few minor updates on automation aren’t big enough. But if packaged together as a drumbeat of announcements in automation month after month, or quarter after quarter, they can truly help cut through the noise with existing customers, prospects, partners and the entire market.
  • Once you have settled on the channel, the frequency of updates and the nature of messaging in each - it is go time!! Take this tiered launch plan and share with your product teams. It will get the excited about the channels their updates will be launched in. It will keep them accountable about dates and timelines (e.g if the product slips, it may not make this monthly newsletter). It also provides a nice system to measure your launch success against (e.g. open rates of monthly update emails, or click rates on in-app modals, and link it to product adoption metrics)

When done well, you will be known as an innovation powerhouse that knows how to build product, rather than a brand that is simply pushing noisy product updates

Credentials & Highlights
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing at BetterUp
Formerly Klaviyo, Qualtrics, Microsoft, MckInsey
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Studied at MBA from Chicago Booth
Lives In Seattle
Knows About B2B Product Marketing KPI's, Building a Product Marketing Team, Category Creation, Co...more
Speaks English, French, Hindi
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Sr. Product Marketing Manager
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