Skim through this article at lightning speed, pick up on a few headlines that pique your interest, extract the tactics, and move on with your day?
More important than the tactics you’ll be walking away with, this approach you’re about to uncover represents an opportunity to fundamentally shift how you clear a path for using insights from the field, to successfully launch and maximize the ongoing performance of products.
In this article, you’re going to learn about the two straightforward approaches that any product marketing team can take to better understand field challenges and opportunities:
In addition to direction around the logical next step of actioning the insights you’ve identified:
- Implementing the reactive approach
- Implementing the proactive approach
- Delivering solutions to field challenges and opportunities
Introducing the two different approaches
In an ideal state, product marketing should be in a position where field challenges and opportunities are surfaced straight from the teams themselves (i.e. reactive approach), while at the same time being uncovered through product marketing-led analysis of the product’s performance across the customer lifecycle (i.e. proactive approach).
The reactive approach
The reactive approach of having field teams such as sales, customer success, implementations, and support directly share challenges and opportunities they perceive from their interactions with the market, is a surefire way for maintaining a pulse on adjustments that could be critical to make for a product.
Let’s take a step back and think about how each of these field teams are often uniquely measured – Sales needs to reach their quota, customer success needs to reach their install base movement goals (retention, expansion), implementations needs to reach their implementation volume or timeline goals, and support needs to reach their customer satisfaction score or time-to-resolution goals.
When these teams voice challenges and opportunities that they’re perceiving in the market, they’re essentially saying that one of the cylinders within the “customer lifecycle engine” is misfiring and jeopardizing their ability to reach/surpass their goals.
And it’s these cross-functional measures that act as a proxy for determining the success of a product in the market.
The proactive approach
The proactive approach of performing a dedicated analysis for a product’s performance across the customer lifecycle, serves as an invaluable way to zoom out and identify trends in larger sets of data than the information that the field surfaces through the reactive approach.
Ranging from quantitative to qualitative, large sets of data within organizations offer product marketers the opportunity to do deep segmentation and come to data-informed conclusions of exactly where a challenge or opportunity exists within the field.
Below, you’ll find five actionable takeaways for implementing both of these approaches in your organization.
Implementing the reactive approach
Establish product marketing as a team that wants continued input from the field – Even though it might seem obvious as a product marketing team that the field should never hesitate to share challenges and opportunities, field teams might not understand that they should be doing this and the impact it can have.
Taking the time to level-set with these teams on the purpose of product marketing and how that purpose ties back to helping them overcome challenges and action opportunities in the field can go a long way.
Guide what type of information is helpful for field teams to share – If you’re asking folks to send you information related to challenges and opportunities, it’s helpful to give them some examples to guide what they should be on the lookout for.
Whether it’s competitive objections sellers don’t feel confident handling or points within a cross-functional handoff that customer success thinks there’s an opportunity to reinforce the value of the solution at, give field teams some ideas of what is perfect to send along.
Establish a clear process for how field teams should share challenges and opportunities – If there’s any confusion around how information should be communicated to the product marketing team, you’ll likely end up with either no information being shared, information being shared to a single individual, or information being shared in a non-segmentable format.
Create a quick form that the field can use to share challenges and opportunities through, along with setting an expectation amongst the product marketing team that the field should be redirected to that form whenever the opportunity exists.
Regularly attend different field team meetings – Showing up in these team settings is one of the most impactful ways to reinforce that product marketing cares about the challenges and opportunities that they’re encountering, in addition to being an invaluable chance to listen for additional challenges and opportunities and encourage teams to submit any future challenges and opportunities through the process you’ve established.
Join communication channels where challenges and opportunities might be frequently shared – Establishing a process for the field to communicate challenges and opportunities through means that everyone in the field will use it right? Not quite.
It’s essential to be present in the communication channels (e.g. Slack channels, email distribution lists, etc.) where these challenges and opportunities are already being communicated so you can not only capture that information but also drive adoption of your new process.
Implementing the proactive approach
Make sure you’re leveraging all the tools at your disposal – Every organization has a different set of tools available which are either specifically designed for capturing data and revealing insights or facilitate the day-to-day responsibilities of a team. In either case, take stock of what tools you have at your disposal, which ones you should be checking on a regular basis, and even which tools you might want to introduce to the organization to fill a gap you’ve identified.
Analyze the adoption of resources being used by the field – One of the leading indicators that the field will encounter challenges, is low adoption of resources that product marketing has created to support them. Without these resources being adopted, it’s near impossible to understand where adjustments need to be made.
The adoption rate of resources can be tracked in a variety of ways ranging from link tracking tools such as Bitly, asset management tools such as Guru, and even revenue intelligence tools such as Gong.
Reach out to members of each field team individually – While the reactive approach encourages members of the field to submit insights when they come across them, reaching out to these teammates proactively is your chance to check in and get a general pulse on the market by asking them what’s at the top of their mind and can also be an opportunity for you to get answers to more targeted questions.
Have regular syncs with team leaders – Whether it’s having a 15-minute weekly meeting with an individual leader or attending a grouped leadership meeting, team leaders can provide a thorough summary of the challenges and opportunities that their teams are facing. Show up, listen, ask questions, and reinforce that product marketing is a resource that their team can lean on.
Set a regular cadence for analyzing the performance of a product – Having dedicated points in time for analyzing a product’s performance across different stages of the customer lifecycle can allow for a deeper analysis that breaks past the cursory glance at KPIs which oftentimes fit nicely into the day-to-day whirlwind.
Could be a few days out of the month or a few days out of the quarter. The idea is that these days you are focused on nothing other than identifying field challenges and opportunities.
Delivering solutions to field challenges and opportunities
Once you’ve identified challenges and opportunities it’s important to validate assumptions around potential solutions as quickly as possible, in as minimally viable of a format as possible, with your target audience.
In some cases, your target audience could be the field teams themselves (e.g. internal tools) and in other cases, your target audience might be the end-customer (e.g. sales demo flow).
Wherever possible, involve your internal stakeholders early in the solution-building process. Bounce ideas off of them during brainstorming, share version one outlines, and even get their thumbs up on the final versions before rolling out. The more you bring internal stakeholders along for the ride, the more buy-in and impact you’ll have upon rollout.
When you’re ready to release the solution to a previously identified field challenge or opportunity, don’t forget to make some noise about it internally. Highlighting to field teams when you’re delivering a solution designed to help them accomplish their goals is one of the best ways to build a trusted relationship and encourage them to continue sharing challenges and opportunities.
Your field teams know what’s up
Across all organizations, one thing remains the same – field teams know what’s up.
Field teams are on the frontlines with prospects and customers day in and day out learning what resonates and what doesn’t, what they want and what they don’t, and the list goes on.
Tapping into their abundance of knowledge to guide decisions, whether it be with a reactive approach, proactive approach, or ideally both, is money on the table for any product marketing team.