How to Effectively Land your Product Launch in your Field
Jarod Greene: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the latest episode of leading the way the sales enablement podcast. My name is Jarod Greene, and I’m the Vice President of Product Marketing here at Highspot. And today, I’m delighted to be joined by HARISH: reaches a growth oriented executive with over 20 years across industry, product management, and product marketing experience. And on this episode, we’re discussing how to effectively land your product launch with the field. Thanks for joining me rich, can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?
Harish Peri: Sure, and thank you Jarod for having me on. You know, we’re big Highspot fan. So this is doubly fun for me. Yeah, reach Perry. You know, I’ve been in technology for a little over 20 years, and half of that time actually has been in product marketing in different flavours. I like to think of myself as like a recovering developer who became a product manager and then a recovering product manager who became a product marketer and never left. And really, you know, just helping tell stories that help the field and help our customers and help drive revenue. That’s what I love to do day in, day out. So that’s why product marketing is for me.
JAROD: Awesome, awesome. Yeah, I’ve never met someone who just got into product. But no one majored in product marketing, right, everybody just kind of fell into it. Everyone I know has been a former something that found product marketing, and fell in love with it. So that’s awesome to share. So you know, even when you have a solid strategy in place in Product Marketing is one of the big agreements, there’s around product launch. And everyone’s got a piece of it, the corporate marketing team to demand team enablement, sales, customer success, product launches require, I think, a lot of coordination, a lot of a lot of cat herding. And so when we think about what it really means it’s about change. It’s how you effectively manage change at scale. And a statistic from our friends at Salesforce is that not many sellers can adapt to changes in strategy. So what’s what’s going on here? 71% of sales leaders believe that the sellers can adapt to change feels like a really high number, and reflects what I might think is low competence. curious on what you think.
HARISH: Yeah, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. I think it’s unfair to talk about competence. You know, I think change is the exact right word. On the marketing side of things, we get caught up a lot in the sugar highs and the quick hits of the launch, which is, did we get the press mentions? Do we get the social coverage? And did we create the right buzz and if you’re doing a launch event, did we have the right entertainment there like people, we get caught up in all the trappings of the launch. But you know, you have to realise it like salespeople are going through an entire kind of mental model change exercise with their own prospects. And when you launch something that disrupts that mental model. So a lot of times, like the fact that something is new or something, we think that something that’s new isn’t good enough for that sales process. In fact, it may not have been impacted at all. And so it’s it’s less about the you know that reps are not able to deal with changes in strategy. It’s almost like the launch strategy doesn’t match up. Our rep is, you know, enacting a kind of a mental model change with a prospect or a client if you’re upselling them. So I would, I would argue that it launches a lot of time spent a lot of time spent on the trappings and the fun stuff, versus very little time to spend on like, how can we inject the benefits of this launch into existing deals that are in flight, or into existing plays that our reps have with customers, and almost moulded the launch to fit those models, versus trying to just throw something new and see whether it sticks. And look, it’s tough being in SAAS, right, like everybody is competing, everyone’s got to come up with a new thing. Everyone’s launching left and right relaunching and so I get the pressure. You know, in Product Marketing, this is our life like we see this all day every day. But I would almost argue and say that it’s up to the product marketers to say, your shiny new product almost doesn’t matter how it fits into the enablement and the playbook and the mental model of different reps in different segments and how they talk to their customers. That’s really what the launch should be about. Yeah, I would say that the reason you have this stat is us PMMs are not really doing our job to the best of our abilities.
JAROD: Yes, that’s great. It’s a great point of view. One of the kinds of things I say a lot is if you’re doing pm right, nothing feels like it’s being thrown over the wall. Kind of carefully orchestrated the is this strategy at the very top and how that ties in with the product strategy which tries to go to market with strategy, all the things that people need to do to support that product launch is one key side of authentically It’s like almost like wedding planning, it’s great to plan for what what is going to be fun, we’re gonna dance, we’re gonna eat cake, it’s gonna be a really good time. But there’s a long tail. After that there’s a lot to be done after, then the work starts. And so I can, I can understand that really well. So really, when you think about coordinating all those bits, the business strategy, the product strategy to go to market, there’s the whole world of what you just got to do internally, mapped against all the external constraints, your competitors are doing things to. Sometimes there’s a gap between what you talked about the mental model for the reps, there’s a gap between what the really good reps can do, what the not so good can do and what the really struggling ones can do. Yeah, when you think about a launch, that construct still applies, right, the good reps are going to pick it up. And the not so good ones are how do we how do we solve for that? Because everyone’s heard the 80/20 rule: 80% of the sales made by 20% of our reps, launch can complete the exasperate that or accelerated? And how can organisations think about moving that needle and getting the whole team on board what the launch is intended to support and drive?
HARISH: Yeah, tthat really is where enablement comes into play, right. So like, the worst thing you can do is, hey, we launched this new product or this new feature, it’s amazing, for these reasons, good luck, which is what we were talking about a second ago. And yeah, there’s going to be a small portion of AES or reps, they’re going to take that and say, I know exactly how this fits into my world. Because maybe they already were proactive, and we’re in sync with the product teams. And we’re thinking about this ahead of time, right? That’s part of what makes them really good reps. But you want it, you want to systematise that out of the equation, where it isn’t about, like you’re not so reliant on like a star performer, you know, you’re more, you’re building a team that’s covering your entire customer base correctly. And that’s done through proper enablement. So if there’s the right education, the right enablement, and the right pressure from sales management to say, we are only executing these plays, this is kind of how you take these products to market. So whether it’s combinations of products, whether it’s a specific industry use case, whether it’s a specific kind of compelling pain point, whatever those plays are, then and that those plays are enforced, essentially, then the key is to get the launch to fit into those plays, or create a new play that supports that launch, right, then you’re taking the kind of the Voodoo factor of saying, Oh, well, this guy, or this person is a star, therefore he or she knows exactly how to run with it, you take that out of the equation. And it’s more a question of it’s in the playbook. Everyone has been enabled, and everyone’s demonstrated that they can execute the playbook, then you take that, you know that that kind of risk factor, or star factor out of the equation. You know, that doesn’t take away like whether some reps are more proactive than others. And you know, they have the right number of touches with their customers. And that’s kind of up to each frontline sales manager to deal with their reps. But at least to kind of reduce the, the whether the launch will land or not, you know, is really getting that enabling machine working and getting those launches, plugged into those plays. And getting those plays really enforced across the ADA base, at least in my view is something that is a way to fix that. Yeah,
JAROD: 100% I mean, we believe in the power of plays as well. And one of the things I think a play does to your point, it evens the playing field, it takes the ability to also understand what the star reps are doing. Yeah, there’s a way we think about play development where, you know, we almost start with the reps point of view, and think through what are the things they specifically you know, say, Show and do the other reps who may be a little more in tune of an industry or a persona or segment, there are some reps who may have had experience selling similar products selling similar capabilities. So there’s a whole series of activities you’re doing through a launch, but I absolutely cosign the fact that the power is in the play, in that if you can get everyone literally on the same page with how to execute that play. The analytics are now and how effective is the play in driving the goal? You don’t have to chase down individual folks and say, Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that? You now have the data to know if you run the play you’re like, that’s goes up by a factor of x, as opposed to here’s some content, go figure it out. Or here’s a lunch and learn. We hope it all sticks and so that we absolutely cosign and believe in the power of plays for sure.
HARISH: Yeah, also, you know, it is just good hygiene, right? Because there’s always this like, product is from Mars and sales are from Venus. And you can think of it that way. It’s like, there’s, what does it do? There’s, why does it matter? But then there’s why does it matter now? Right? The relevance is what drives urgency with the field. And then why does it matter now to dismiss The thick sub sub segment of our prospect base, that’s when the plays become super powerful. And so really are both your questions, the first one and this one. A lot of times like the reason launches this land flat is you haven’t done that translation, right? Like product marketers will say we our job is we take features and we turn it into value. But that’s still 50%. The other 50% is why is that value matter to this specific rep at this moment in time, to that prospect that they’re going to talk to tomorrow, and that’s where that that’s when you start to get the hyper relevance that will tip of the spear that can help them get ahead of a lot of the competition. And that actually can help a lot of, you know, quote, unquote, not star reps to say, oh, yeah, I guess if I’m going to lead with a conversation like in in my world, right, security, you know, cybersecurity is hot all the time. But right now, there’s a whole kind of nation-state actor threats, like, feature wise, there’s, you know, we can compete all day with on a feature basis, or even on a value basis in terms of like cost savings, or reduced fines, or whatever. But the relevance now is like, literally the barbarians are at your gates, are you ready like this, if you just switch the conversation to why that matters at this moment in time, given what’s happening in the world, that’s a play that any rep, even if they’re brand new, and ramping can take and start to then generate meaningful pipeline.
JAROD: Now, that makes a lot of sense. And it’s a, I have heard the before where you know, we’re from Mars or Venus, there is a thing that I think we do share desire to do, which is like we want to drive the business forward, we both have the same goal in mind. And I think the way to attain it is just everyone in their respective areas, but working really hard across the aisle to serve that need. One of the things I want to ask you about is, you know, taking the same plate concept, you know, extending that into sales managers, one of the things we’ve learned is that enablement only really goes so far as the sales managers and the sales leadership team allows it to do that, if you enable the rep, the first question they ask is not back to the product marketer, or back to the corporate market, or back to the product is to their manager, hey, just launched what is this? How does this work? And if the sales manager isn’t informed, we just find that it or worse, the sales manager is not on board. Bad things can happen. So how have you kind of understood the dynamics between not just sales but the hierarchy of sales and sales leadership in the context of a launch?
HARISH: Yeah, there’s there’s different different tactics depending on kind of how big your company is, and what what the culture is, but it comes down to relevance, ultimately, you know, the larger the company is the, you know, it’s always a fight to get your launch to be relevant to some kind of corporate initiative or company level goal. Because then it’s like, look, we’re supporting it. So then a manager has ammo to say, look, in executing this play, you’re supporting something big that the CEO, you know, him or herself wants to get done, right. So there’s, there’s a certain level of politics, I will say, a larger company and a smaller company, it’s much easier, you just go to the VP of sales and say, Listen, like this is what’s gonna get your, your reps to get the quarter faster, right. And this is, this is how we’re all gonna go to club. And so you make it relevant in that way. And it becomes a no brainer. If if there’s a way to tie it to, you know, a deeper customer success or values outcome, then that’s even better, because you know, the best sales manager will want their customers their own customers to succeed, in addition to the rep succeeding as well. So it just it really depends on kind of what the what stage you’re at how large it is, and, and what the culture is ultimately about.
JAROD: Yeah, absolutely. Well, let’s, let’s shift gears a bit. Let’s talk about the the other side of things, what we think about launch a lot, and I’ve been guilty of it in the past as a product marketer, let’s just write it all down. Let’s create all the new content that you booked the white papers and video all the assets and let’s update the value calculators, let’s, let’s get all the content queued up. And then we’ll launch publicly and we’ll have the event or we’ll have the moment in time and the new features released and we got the quote in the analysts we feel really good. And again, we could throw that over to the Wall Wrap and say you got it now you guys you guys have all the content you need. And even if we put it in a play, and even if we structure the guidance on uses here, uses here uses here. There’s still a world of trading and coaching to think through. So you’ve created the strategy or you’ve done something different. But most reps are going to forget how do you think about the training and sales learning side of a launch?
HARISH: Yeah, I think it’s, um, there’s two parts to it. There’s the kind of maybe push and pull right on the pull side of things. It is an easy thing that power marketers can do is like really highlight the Your wins. So there’s kind of like that scary initial month, let’s say after launch, where once a sugar high fades like PMM you’re like desperately looking for, okay? Which my reps one, like, I want some some deals where they actually succeeded with this new launch with a new product. And then like you want to latch onto that rapidly document that and publicise the heck out of that with your reps. Because you can say, look like one of you, somebody in your team uses this to execute in this way, let them explain it to you, because that is way better than any marketer talking to a sales rep because it’s a credibility thing, right? Like, ultimately, there’s the fine line of product marketers, they’re not the Spartans in the field. Like, that’s always the big difference. We can take it up to a certain point, but we’re not the ones who’s who’s you know, who are feast or famine from a quota perspective. So you want to fulfil, a rep comes in it says, I use this to close XYZ, here’s how I did it. Whether or not the deal was humongous, you know, it’s that’s a segment specific thing. But the story is very important. This is why I went after this is the messaging that I use, this is the opening that I had, oh, by the way, here’s the thing that’s not documented, also look for accounts that have these characteristics. Because you know, what marketers, we may not have known that when we launched it, that’s the learnings you get from the field. And so the deal winds are supremely important. The second thing is, you know, as much as this can be codified into the actual sales process itself. So like, you know, I have to plug CRM because I kinda, that’s, that’s my day job. But, um, if it is like in all of your opportunity stages, are you tagging things correctly with whether you use a certain player or a certain methodology that may have been impacted by this new launch? That’s something from a push perspective, where a manager can really coach on a day to day basis to say look like why or why aren’t you using this approach? Why aren’t you talking about new capabilities from this launch? I’m not seeing documented in the in the CRM, for example. So it’s a push and pull thing, but in my experience, like the deal winds are, by far, the thing that just removes any skepticism and almost creates a little healthy competition, because we all know, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s the culture, right? It’s you motivated by a little bit of competition.
JAROD: I’ve heard that once or twice, and sales folks are competitive.
HARISH: Maybe a little. Just a little.
JAROD: I absolutely see the value in kind of your we’ll call it the post launch, the post launch launch or the post launch strategy is to kind of reinforce we, we have a philosophy I might seem says always be launching, never miss an opportunity to launch How many times have we done this as product marketers, the launch is done, the sugar high is over. And then we move on to the next launch. So next to launch the next thing? Well, just because we had that moment in time, and we spiked the football and had the party doesn’t mean everybody’s dropped it, our sales seem to have dropped it, the market at large hasn’t dropped that our analysts haven’t dropped it. So at every touchpoint we have with the market, we try to reinforce the thing we last last just now. It’s now part of the narrative. And so we do that both internally. And externally, I 1,000% see the value of making sales kind of the voice of it as opposed to you know, Product Marketing, saying, Hey, guys, remember, you know, this is how you do a discovery on this. So we’ve just having a website around that play. It works. You guys crazy not to do it. And if you want, you want to make money it would behove you to run the play this way. I absolutely love that.
HARISH: Absolutely. I would almost argue that there’s like launches, product launches and sales success, they’re almost orthogonal to each other. And most product launches, like you shouldn’t be looking at them more from a noise making capacity. So made noise were in the market are relevant. It’s a lot of top of the funnel buzz. And it’s actually a good data point for reps, even if it doesn’t impact a play for them just to go back to an open deal and say, hey, look, we’re innovating. Right? If nothing else, it’s just a way to go back to your customers and prospect and have a touch point. So that that alone is enough, even if it doesn’t directly impact play. That’s why like it’s a little orthogonal. And if it does directly back play, and it helps accelerate deals or treat, you know, fills in a gap that stalling some deals great. But if nothing else, it’s still like a an opportunity to make noise. Yeah, as we know is important. SAAS is a hot hot hot space. And so you gotta stay relevant.
JAROD: Yeah. Andit’s a busy space and again, like you say, everyone’s launching something at any given time.
HARISH: Or everyone’s creating a category. That’s the thing.
JAROD: Yeah, everyone’s creating a category one and there’s no competitor like them. No one does what they do not even close. Yeah, yep, we’ve all been there too. And, and if you think Think about it again that the culture of launch and readiness, I firmly believe is the function of of enablement. At the core of it. We believe enablement is about driving change at scale. Launch represents a change, it represents a change in what your product does, it represents a way you have now changed the way you position and compete change the way you may deploy in some cases, or the way you price and so a lot just continues to be a theme. What What would you tell anyone out there who says, Look, what’s what’s the real secret to launch success, if you had to kind of summarise and say, to do launch, effectively, you must do X or X and Y, what would be some of the pearls of wisdom you’d like to pass to the audience?
HARISH: I think the hardest thing, but the thing that really makes a launch successful is just everybody needs to fundamentally have the same. Same definition of what success looks like. Because there’s this, there’s always you have this huge kind of trough of disappointment afterwards, where it’s like, somebody didn’t get what they wanted, or somebody didn’t see the outcome they wanted, because in the very beginning of the process, you know, the launch owner wasn’t I would almost say brave enough to say, listen, listen, like this is not something that’s going to impact sales, that’s okay. Right? If it’s, if it’s if the goal is to is to create buzz, then focus on that, and leave it at that and don’t then the next day, go to Sales and say, Hey, are you folks using this in your, in your processes? They’re like, No, this doesn’t affect us. And if that wasn’t known, objective, great, then no one’s that happy, right? But if you notice, your objective is actually driving sales success. Don’t spend so much time on all the fluffy noise making stuff and get into the weeds with the reps and say, reverse engineer, how do we position this launch. So it’ll help you the minute it hits. And so it’s, it’s, it’s always this, like, wrangling the folks that matter to come to an agreement on what the definition of success is, if do and those are very hard, annoying conversations, but like the launch owner needs to be brave enough to drive that they are and to get alignment, then those are the situations I’ve seen where it’s just like, it’s smooth, because there’s people that want, there’s no one out there that has really disappointed after the fact
JAROD: very much. So very good. Let me ask one final final question. Before we wrap any thoughts on how product marketers can help the enablement team and by product sellers be more consistent in their ability to execute?
HARISH: Yeah, that’s, that’s a big one. Um, I think it’s a cultural thing. It’s almost like part of marketers need to have a little less hubris. So it’s, it’s less about believing that, you know, they created the right bill of materials, right, they created the data sheet and updated first called deck and the demo video when the things and assuming that that’s going to make a difference, and really actually understanding what is the language of enablement? What is what they do day to day? And how can Product Marketing create the right outputs coming on for launch that will help enablement function? How can we create the right outputs? That’s going to help? See and sales being a broad definition, like at a segment level, right? How can they help the SMB function, the mid market folks, the enterprise folks, the stratacomm folks, how can they frame the launch to help them? Because proper argument sits in the middle of everything, right? Yeah. And fundamentally, like our job is we’re literally just linguists, we’re seeing different languages who talk one thing product folks, one thing to them and enable people wanting to the reps wanting to analysts and customers. And so it’s really understanding that mental model of how does enablement succeed? And then what can we do to help them so it comes down to plays, it comes down to the right. The right kind of materials may not be sexy stuff, but it’s important stuff. That I think is—is it’s a work in progress, but it’s a thing that PMMs have to get better at.
JAROD: Yeah, yeah. Be humble.
HARISH: Yeah. You’re staying in the middle of everything and it’s a.. you have a lot of power, but you know, great power, great responsibilities, you got to learn their language.
JAROD: Absolutely. Always. This has been a pleasure. Thank you a lot. Thank you so much. The insights, the pearls of wisdom, best of luck to you and the team, everything you do from here on out, and it’s been great having a conversation with you. Appreciate it.
HARISH: Yeah, thank you for having me. This was a ton of fun. Right.
JAROD: Thanks a lot.
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