Sunny Manivannan

Sunny ManivannanShare

Vice President & GM, Global SMB, Braze
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Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

My top 3 metrics to measure sales enablement success are :

1. Reduction in ramp time for new AEs coming into the company - defined as 'how many days does an AE spend at my company before they close their first New Business deal?'


2. Quarterly rep participation rate - defined as 'what % of my ramped sales team closed a deal this quarter?' - this number should increase every quarter if your sales enablement program is effective. If your sales cycles are close to a year long, then perhaps you evaluate participation on a bi-annual basis (2x/year). If your sales cycles are much shorter (less than a month), then evaluate on a monthly basis. But the same concept holds.

3. Win rate by segment and by region - defined as '# of deals closed-won divided by # of deals closed in a given period' (usually quarterly). It usually makes the most sense to look at deals that reached a certain stage before they were marked closed (I like picking the earliest stage after an opp has become a "qualified opp" - this is usually Stage 2 or Stage 3 in a typical sales pipeline).

4. (bonus) Average selling price - this metric effectively measures how well your reps communicate the value of your solution to prospects, which comes right back to how good your enablement program is.

I personally don't care for attendance or competence metrics such as "which of our reps attended this session" or "how many of our reps passed a quiz on this topic?". The vast majority of the AEs I've worked with are highly competent, well-trained professionals. They tend to be pretty good at managing their own time, and these metrics feel a little too "nanny state" to me and I don't think they correlate strongly to actual performance. 

The other problem with attendance or competence metrics is that they don't tell you whether the content for the sessions is terrible, which happens a fair amount. I've seen too many 40-slide word vomit decks masquerading as enablement - they're not, and many of these decks create more questions than they answer. If I was a rep, I wouldn't show up to those sessions either.

Final word - because this is an important question. When you want to understand the effectiveness of your sales enablement efforts, always measure business results, not activity. You'll identify issues much faster, and you'll get a lot of joy out of watching new and ramped reps win more deals.

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

1. Google Sheets
2. Slack and Email

My personal perspective (and I know this is not a popular opinion) - keep project management tools as far away as possible from your product launches. There are very few product launches that are so complex that a well-organized plan in Google Sheets can't do the trick. No one wants to learn how to use a project management tool to check a single checkbox in a 200-item project plan. The best way to keep people engaged is to use tools everyone is familiar with.

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

Personally, I consider these three questions every day:

1. How can I help my company win more?

2. How can I help my company win bigger?

3. How can I help my company win forever?

The first is about how PMM can help Sales increase win rate and help Marketing increase pipeline (pipeline x win rate = new customers). Tactics for this include competitive intelligence and competitive positioning, helping Demand Gen by crafting great content and effective landing page copy, not to mention website copy.

The second is about helping your Sales team communicate the value of your software effectively and raising your average selling price as a result. Tactics for this include pricing and packaging, classic product marketing (clear, concise, and differentiated product benefits, for example), sales enablement, category and company evangelism, and industy-specific marketing, depending how large your company is.

The last is about helping your company build and reinforce its long-term competitive advantages. In order to be successful over the long term, every B2B SaaS company has to have some inherent advantages that will make it difficult for competitors to ever catch up. It's Product Marketing's job to identify such opportunities and influence the company to actually execute on these opportunities. 

On the topic of 'ownership', Product Marketing is unique because we don't 'own' anything by ourselves. We simply influence - sometimes we get our way, and sometimes we don't. What I have found effective is to focus less on what product marketing owns and to focus solely on 'is the work getting done well?' and make sure that high-impact initiatives get executed consistently and correctly.

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

I think it's crucial to work closely with other teams at the company on projects that really matter to their success. For example:

PMM + Demand Gen - website redesign

PMM + PM - roadmap planning, product launches, or pricing & packaging

PMM + Sales - sales enablement, competitive positioning

PMM + Success - customer-facing product roadmap presentation, customer adoption tips and tricks

PMM can help all these other functions win, and I think it's absolutely essential to seek out such projects as it helps PMMs gain empathy for the challenges faced by other functions, and leads to more effective collaboration.

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

As I wrote in another answer, the market will reward some kinds of tension, especially if there is substantive disagreement between leaders or functions on a critical topic (e.g. pricing and packaging, which I believe is the least understood topic in all of enterprise software). In these cases, lean into the tension, and remind each other all the time that you are doing something really hard but also really important to the company. It is absolutely worth it to have tough conversations in these cases - because when you make it to the other side, you will have built a significantly better company. 

Tension by itself isn't bad. What's bad - and potentially fatal to your near-term career prospects - is repeated tension on topics that don't really matter to the company's prospects. That's when things veer into 'personal animosity' territory, which leads to grudges being held and tense relationships that prove difficult to untangle. 

In either case, when tension exists, I believe you have to make an attempt to do some combination of the following:

1. Acknowledge that there is tension, that you feel it too, and that you have played a part in letting it get to this point.

2. Find some places where you can win together.

3. Release your own agenda and find ways to help "the other guy" win - do whatever it takes, and do it quickly and repeatedly.

Tension tends to be correlated with a lack of trust, and trust isn't rebuilt overnight (but it can indeed be rebuilt, and often is). It will get better with time. Stay in the game, and stay strong.

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

I'm in favor of what I call the 'State of the Union' report - and doing this every quarter. A 'State of the Union' report is created by a product marketer for their main revenue-generating product(s). It covers (within the quarter): 

(i) the number of net-new wins for that product, the overall new revenue, overall win rate, average selling price, and potentially how many customers churned that product.

(ii) feedback from 3-5 customer interviews - what do they like about the product, what do they hate, what do they wish it did that it doesn't do today, and what do they integrate with your product (if applicable) - all of this information is very useful in roadmap planning.

(iii) product adoption metrics - how many of your paying customers are actually using your product? which ones aren't, and why? for the ones that use it a lot, why do they use it so much, and are there any lessons for you to gain as the product marketer that you can use to get your other customers to use it as much?

(iv) what is the product marketer going to do in the coming quarter to help improve (i), (ii), and (iii)?

I find that presenting all this information in one go gives the reader much more information about the 'health' of a product, with a strong customer bent (note that all four areas covered have to do with either new or existing customers, and they include both quantitative and qualitative information, both of which are valuable), which, in turn, leads to a higher chance of action.

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

In full transparency, I have found it difficult to evaluate the success of a product launch in a metrics-driven way. There's too many variables at play. For example, one could use the metric of "how much of Product X did we sell in the first six months after launch?", but that can be influenced by the product quality, competitors' moves, broader trends, etc. You may have had a great product launch for Product X, but Product Y happens to do better in the market for other reasons.

One metric that is useful is to survey the satisfaction of your internal customers as well as your actual customers regarding how they feel a particular product launch went. If you use an NPS survey, that can be tracked over time, and I find that that'll probably give you the clearest sense for what you may have missed in a given product launch or what you did well.

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

Sales reps are busy. Sales managers are even busier. It's not easy to convince these busy folks to take an hour out of their day to sit in a classroom and listen to a lecture. And when your team is global, the odds are that this one hour comes at an inconvenient (EMEA) or impossible (APAC) time for a rep or manager.

Some of the things we've done are - (1) region-specific enablement sessions, (2) tapping sales leaders and influential sales reps to lead some sections of enablement sessions, especially those related to competitive positioning or deal reviews, and (3) emailing or Slacking bite-size videos or small slide packs that have to deal with topics that are "hot" at any given moment. 

One last initiative that I'm a big fan of, which I call Proactive Product Marketing, has to do with ensuring that the right content gets into your reps' hands at the moment they need it. You can achieve this by setting up rules in Slack or through Salesforce to push content to a specific rep's email or Slack if, for example, they move an opportunity in Vertical X where Primary Competitor is Company Y to a certain stage, you can push them collateral like "Your_Company for Vertical X" or "Your_Company vs. Company Y internal battlecard". This is again an easy way to scale your enablement while keeping it personalized.

In general, the bigger a sales team gets, it gets harder to serve every single rep and manager all at the same time, so my preference is to try to serve smaller groups or to tackle smaller topics (and just do these activities more often).

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

The first time this happens at your company (assuming the MVP is already built), you have to let the product launch and (likely) fail in the market. There's likely too much internal momentum around this MVP and you won't be able to stop the runaway train, no matter how loudly you yell. Now, you should absolutely share the customer research and your perspective on the MVP's dim prospects in a clearly worded email to the Product leadership team (and perhaps the CEO, depending your company size). But it won't really matter - you're likely too late. And one miss is OK - no company is perfect when it comes to releasing products - even the best of us have launched a dud or two. 

The second time this happens at your company, you should speak up more loudly. Reference the other time this happened, and pound the table harder. Ask for a seat at the table when early-stage roadmap planning discussions happen, where your job will be to bring in hard data on what your customers actually want from your company. 

The third time this happens, start looking for a new job. The reason is simple. Any strong Product team will be talking to customers all the time anyway, and on top of that, they'll be getting direct feedback from the Sales and Success teams. If Product Marketing is the only voice of reason when it comes to the near-term roadmap, that means all these other teams have failed to talk to each other and/or talk to customers, both of which are disaster scenarios for a company. 

Sunny Manivannan
Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

Startups are unique because (virtually) every employee is also a shareholder. Which means that every internal meeting is also a shareholders' meeting.

Now, unlike companies where you are a passive shareholder (Grandma bought you 10 shares of McDonald's, for example) but have no way to influence day-to-day decisions, you get to make a big difference at the company where you work. Every day at a startup is a chance for you to make an impact that will increase the value of your (and your colleagues') shares. It's a meaningful opportunity.

What does all this have to do with ensuring alignment amidst disagreement? Well, it can help for Product Marketing to be the "voice of the long-term shareholder" in situations where there is disagreement (and where the decision you all make together is meaningful to the company's future prospects). This way, you are no longer "in the middle", you are adding a unique perspective to the discussion and helping frame the issue in a better way. Here are some suggestions when you get into a situation where there is strategic disagreement.

1. Acknowledge that there is disagreement. I think this is a critical first step that often gets missed in the heat of the moment. It relieves some of the pent-up tension to just say out loud that we disagree.

2. Lean into the disagreement

3. List out the assumptions behind each position - i.e., what would have to be true about the world in order for each of your executive stakeholders to be "right"? Does one view of the world seem more plausible than the other? 

4. Make everyone argue for both answers - at the very least, this expands everyone's aperture - even if they still may disagree after.

If all else fails, and you really need to make a decision (as we always do), all parties should bring in other perspectives, or simply escalate the issue up. 

Credentials & Highlights
Vice President & GM, Global SMB at Braze
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In New York, NY
Knows About Growth Product Marketing, Product Marketing Interviews, Enterprise Product Marketing,...more