The PMM mindset

The two most important things you can bring to the product marketing job are the right mindset and the right functional skill set.

While mastery of functional skills is important, what sets apart the great product marketers from the good ones is crystal clear understanding of the mission, and the ability to sustain a focused drive to achieve it. The following points illustrate what occupies the thoughts of the successful product marketer and guides how they spend their time and energy.

  • Good PMMs see themselves as business owners.
    • A good PMM feels ownership of the ultimate success of their product on the market. Success on the market is measured by things like revenue, revenue growth, unit growth, number of users or market share. Therefore, a good PMM closely monitors these key indicators, and can rattle off the stats in their sleep.
    • Develop a key metrics dashboard that you update and track on a regular basis. Key metrics you may want to track include number of product eval downloads, sales pipeline, bookings, market share, product mix, average selling price, length of sales cycle etc.
  • Good PMMs know the routes to market (sales and the channel).
    • A good PMM understands HOW success happens in the field and what is most important to the “feet on the street.” A good PMM understands the dynamics of the sales and the channel: which channel contributes the most bookings, which channel is the most profitable, which channel sells which product. A good PMM also understands the motivations and the mentality of sales people, and knows how to influence and leverage them for success.
    • Understand the distribution structure for your product – i.e what percentage of sales occur through self service sign up, what percentage is sold through sales force or channel partners. Understand what are the most important distribution channels, and establish relationships with leaders in the most important distribution channel. Generalize their best practice and think creatively how you can elevate all sales people or all channel partners to that level.
    • Work with the sales and channel enablement organization to put together a program to uplevel the rest of your partners.
  • Good PMMs knows their product’s sales cycle and continuously try to optimize and shorten it.
    • A good PMM can identify the root cause of bottleneck to growing the business: is it customer awareness, or lead generation, or the ability of the field and partners to overcome objections, or inability to do the technical validation, lack of references, high price etc.
    • Create and maintain your model of the sales cycle – i.e. what does the funnel from web site visitors (awareness) to leads (consideration) to opportunities (sales) looks like; where do the drop offs occur. How long does each stage of the sales cycle take? Make it a priority to work out one bottleneck a quarter.
  • Good PMMs drive their own agenda.
    • The nature of product marketing is that it is interrupt driven: a sales team wants you to jump on a customer call, another sales team is looking for help overcoming objections, the marketing team wants feedback on their campaign copy, and you need to prep for an analyst briefing. You can spend 18 hrs a day responding to requests (and implementing other people’s agenda). Good PMMs do not fall victim to the “tyranny of the urgent” but rather closely guard their time to ensure that they accomplish the objectives on which they will be measured! A good PMM knows when to say NO and which balls to drop.
    • You need to make time for the initiatives that you want to drive. Very tactically – try to block some time on your calendar every week where you are going to work on things that you want and need to drive.
    • Classify requests that hit you along the two axes of how urgent and how important they are.The urgent and important things you are better off handling yourself. The urgent and unimportant you try to delegate. The important and non-urgent you need to make time for with the above trick because these are usually the things that over the medium and long run make all the difference between success and failure. And finally the non-urgent, non-important things – you simply delete that e-mail, forget about it, and don’t feel bad about it.
  • Good PMMs are leaders who relentlessly pursue of their objectives. Good PMMs are leaders. The definition of a leader is “one who knows where they are going and is able to get others to follow.” A good PMM recognizes that they must influence the behavior of people over whom they have no organizational control. This is often challenging, but a good PMM does not give up, and is persistent and resilient in the face of obstacles.
  • A good PMM is also focused on continuous improvement through skill-building and upgrading of processes, deliverables, etc., tuning and tweaking (or even over-hauling) until the desired effect (or effectiveness) is achieved.

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