Srini Sekaran

Srini SekaranShare

Senior Product Manager, Amazon
srinisekaran.com
Content
Srini Sekaran
Srini Sekaran
Senior Product Manager, AmazonJune 8

Measuring sales success is unique to your organization but you can gauge general effectiveness by understanding the volume of opportunities, conversion rates, and productivity

Volume of Opportunity
Cross-selling, renewals, and upselling are more effective ways of generating revenue than acquiring a net new customer. According to InsightSquared, the average cost of acquisition for a company to renew a product is $0.13, the average upsell costs a company $0.28. Both are dramatically more cost-effective moves than acquiring a net new customer—at $1.18 to earn $1.00. 


These cost-effective sales motions require the ability to sell value and solutions. You can gauge if your sales organization is selling solutions by creating value-oriented messaging seeing if it’s used by them during conversations. The lead-to-customer conversion rate is a gauge to see if your message is being used and for the overall efficacy of your marketing and sales funnel. 


It’s not enough to create compelling content—you need to make sure your sales representatives are using it. They are the ones using your tools in the real world, during conversations with customers in order to convince them and to address their objections. Through interviews with individuals, you can get feedback on what content is particularly useful. Through tools, you can understand the most effective content and the content leveraged by the top performers in the organization as well as by prospects themselves.


Conversion Rates
It’s not enough to talk about value. Your content should help the sales organization to talk about how your company delivers differentiated value. Closely looking at win/loss rates against key competitors and the context around these ratios can reveal gaps in sales, marketing, product, and customer success strategies. 


For example, if you have a low win-loss ratio for the cloud segment of your business for prospective business customers with 500-1000 employees, that may be indicative that you are not offering differentiated value for that market segment relative to the competitor. Doing this exercise can inform you of the need to create more targeted objection handling content, more training collateral for that segment or vertical, or may highlight a larger issue with product or GTM strategy.


Productivity
In order to scale your company, you need to reduce the time it takes for an average sales individual—without the expectation of domain expertise—to quickly ramp up without much hand-holding. For measuring the ramp up time for individual representatives, you can look at the time it takes for them to close their first deal or meet their quota. On a macro level, reducing the time it takes for individual representatives to get up to speed reduces the average sales cycle itself.

Srini Sekaran
Srini Sekaran
Senior Product Manager, AmazonJune 8

In a noisy world, social proof is increasingly important for businesses. We don’t want to hear just a monologue from the business itself on why it can provide value for me. We want to hear others talk about the value they got from the business—their experience. It’s why we read reviews before dining out.

Case studies go deeper than reviews and testimonials. They highlight how your company solved a specific problem for a customer and the aftermath. Case studies are a microcosm of product marketing. They highlight a customer’s specific challenge and how they overcame it with a product. And since the product is differentiated, they are shown to be able to solve their unique challenge that they otherwise could not have. Case studies are manifested in a narrative-format and are used as tools of persuasion.
With case studies, you’re able to not just talk about value but demonstrate it authentically with a real customer. 

For early-stage companies and organizations with highly-technical products, case studies offer more than social proof. They offer a roadmap for prospects and show how others are deriving value from your product. If your product adds value to multiple stakeholders such as heads of engineering, product management leads, and QA engineers, talking about how a company in India reduced the number of software defects in production by 60% distills multiple value propositions into a tangible value statement.

Creating a Case Study

Start with the interviewee. For B2B companies, the ideal candidate is someone high-level to understand the business value but technical enough to know the specific context and quantifiable impact.

Questions to Ask

  1. What is your company known for? What’s your role?
  2. What did [process] look like at your company before? What were the biggest pain points you experienced?
  3. What was the point at which you decided to look for a solution?
  4. What was the first moment where you realized that [our product] was a unique solution to your problem?
  5. What does [process] look like at your company now?
  6. What other [software/tools] do you use as part of your [process] workflow?
  7. Can you share any quantifiable metrics that you use to measure the impact of [our product]? 
  8. What has your team been doing with the [time/capital/operating expenses] saved?
  9. What’s one thing you’d want someone who is considering using [our product] to know?

Writing the Story


For a B2B company, the following table provides a template for creating a case study.


Overview

- Context on the customer: Bullet points on their industry, their position within their domain (Fortune 100), and the use case under discussion
- 1-2 sentence summary of how your customers use your product and the results they’ve seen
- A customer quote from the interview that supports the essence of the case study
- Metrics: 3 quantifiable bullet points on results

The Challenge
- The problem and context, setting the technical context and business challenge
- A quote describing the breaking point when they started looking for a new solution


The Solution

- Your differentiated solution—how your product uniquely solves the problem
- The way your product fits into the larger workflow of the team and its implementation
- A quote on the immediate impact on the team—productivity and process improvement

The Results
- High-level impact of your product, including time saved, money saved, the opportunity opened—calling out other projects the team can now work on
- A quote describing the long-term impact on the team and business

Srini Sekaran
Srini Sekaran
Senior Product Manager, AmazonNovember 21

A marketing funnel is a concept that maps out the customer journey—from the customer's awareness of your brand to their purchase of your product. The funnel lets you know what your company must do to influence consumers at each stage of their journey. 

Having a means to understand how customers navigate the process in which they make purchase decisions—the buyer’s journey—can optimize marketing efforts and drive revenue.

The Four Stages

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Every successive stage in the funnel is a reflection of the customer’s mindset as she inches closer to a purchase and is more cognizant of her problem, and more importantly, your solution.


A Helpful Concept


The funnel is a concept. A framework, if you will. To reduce human behavior to a two-dimensional graphic and strictly adhering to it is myopic. However, the funnel is a useful tool to understand the way in which the majority of your customers operate when making a purchase and subsequently can help drive your core marketing efforts by:

  • Helping you better understand your customer’s needs and desires
  • Accelerating customer purchase cycles
  • Identifying conversion rate issues
  • Optimizing campaign performance
  • Facilitating sales and marketing automation initiatives

The Need for Advocacy

Lewis’ general concept hasn’t changed much and the elements of the funnel remain true for today’s industries. One newer change, however, is the increased focus on the stage after action: advocacy. Advocacy is a key part of today’s marketing; a focus on loyalty improves customer retention, increases revenue in what is perhaps the most efficient way, and underpins any sustainable growth strategy. 

Advocacy may seem like a hasty new appendage to Lewis’ model or some 21st century invention to satisfy a marketing fad. It’s not. According to studies by Bain & Company and the Harvard Business School, loyalty has tangible results: a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by >25%.

Your customers are your most effective advocates and revenue drivers. Not only will they spread the word of your product and bring in new entrants to your pipeline, but existing customers are more effective sources of new business, through upsell and cross-sell opportunities. The most successful brands of today seek to drive experiences that will make their customers their ambassadors.

Therefore, appending an extra A to Lewis’ model—AIDAA—is more appropriate.

Srini Sekaran
Srini Sekaran
Senior Product Manager, AmazonNovember 21

In launching products, the cardinal word is clarity. Clarity cannot be overstated in defining goals, the precise customer to reach, and the individual launch components—and their stakeholders—that support a broader, consistent message.

It’s imperative that you’re clear in defining:

  • The target market
  • Your product’s unique value proposition
  • Metrics to evaluate launch performance

This clarity will serve as an underpinning for every aspect of a launch: pre-launch, launch, and post-launch.

1. Listen | Understand your customers. Use data.


Generating coverage has never been easier: more channels, more viewers, and more effective economics. Getting attention from the right audience, however, is a challenge.

Understanding the market, your product, and the customer will help your message—and product—reach a more targeted segment, and ultimately lead to the conversion of more paying users.

Data helps. Data can help determine the most effective channels, identify if and to what extent the product solves a customer pain point, and examine a specific segment of a market in depth. Use surveys, speak with prospects and customers, whiteboard with product managers and engineers. If possible, see and use your product. PRDs are treasure troves of product knowledge, but experiencing the visceral feeling of materially using the product does help.

Taking a step back and listening to prospects and key stakeholders contributes to the process of answering fundamental questions, ultimately being conducive to greater product-market fit:

  • What’s the larger narrative in the market?
  • How do users already feel about the product?
  • What are the relevant channels and heuristics?
  • What elements of the product are differentiators?
  • What personas are likely to purchase?
  • What’s the total addressable market (TAM)?
  • What is the appropriate price point?
  • What’s the real problem customers are facing?

2. Define | Define positioning and messaging.


Armed with knowledge and data about the right audience and differentiated aspects of your product, you can build out messaging. Messaging is, in essence, the foundation on which much of the launch is built upon. It’s essential but it doesn’t mean it needs to be complex.

Effective messaging is simple, targets a specific persona, and crisply communicates a differentiated solution for a unique problem. There are other elements that can help shape a message: the competitive landscape as well as specific technical product details and limitations. These elements are important but do not have to dilute the core essence of this step’s purpose. It’s simple: define a unique solution to a specific persona’s unmet needs, while being cognizant of your overall brand messaging.

3. Share | Share positioning with your team.


Validate the messaging document with feedback from a gamut of individuals. Listen, absorb, and capture feedback, without the need to justify your message. It’s easy to provide justifications and supporting commentary to a single objector. It’s impossible to do this at scale. Your messaging will have to speak for itself at launch time. Observing unfiltered reactions to your messaging will help in the iterative process of refining your messaging document.

Great messaging doesn’t have to be a secret. Share your positioning and messaging with your broader team, making sure to create internal awareness, understanding, and excitement. This step cannot be overstated—a launch is a team effort. Awareness and understanding of the sub-bullets of a launch strategy will help your peers understand the purpose of a launch, execute on their deliverables on an agreed timeline, and charter new goals and metrics to track.

4. Execute | Support a consistent message with a plan.


In creating and carrying out a plan, two words should underlie this step: clarity and priority.


  • Clarity. Be unequivocally clear in the objectives of this launch: quantitative results that define success post-launch. With the help of your team, define concrete goals and what is needed to achieve them. With a goal in mind, list out every channel, collateral, and respective content stakeholder that can be leveraged to succeed.
  • Priority. Quantifying the importance of a particular channel or collateral helps in driving ROI and enables purpose-driven launches. Priority can serve a dualistic purpose in its relationship with clarity and curtail the extent and number of content items and channels.

    Before creating the various assets needed for a launch—FAQs, sales training materials, web copy—be sure to make every item trackable, measurable, and accountable, with prioritization driving this process. Regardless of the methodology used to rank collateral in order of importance, prioritizing what elements to focus on will allow you to have the greatest impact.


5. Launch | With your team’s support, launch.


Once again, the importance of internal communication is understated. Before launching, ensure your peers and the company is on the same page. With stakeholders ready, content locked, and content delivery mechanisms scheduled, it’s time to launch.

Launch day can feel as a singular, definitive apex of this process. After all, weeks have led up to this day. However, to maintain momentum in coverage, amplify awareness, and adjust dynamically, it makes sense to release media content in waves.

At this point, coverage can lead to observable—measurable—results. By remaining cognizant of feedback and metrics, you can have the tools to benchmark this launch against pre-established goals and define what success looks like for tomorrow.

-

This was originally published on srinisekaran.com

Credentials & Highlights
Senior Product Manager at Amazon
Lives In San Francisco, CA
Knows About Growth Product Marketing, Product Marketing Interviews, Sales Enablement, Enterprise ...more