A go-to-market strategy (GTM) is a plan that details how an organization can engage with customers to persuade them to buy its product or service and gain a competitive advantage.
According to Japna Sethi, leader of the Product-Led Growth team at Productboard, ideally, marketing, sales, and customer success teams should share the same goals.
In this episode of Product Led Revenue, Japna describes how Productboard implements product-led growth. Japna and this episode's host Tim Geisenheimer get into GTM strategy and why the relationship between the sales, marketing, CS, and growth teams is so meaningful. They discuss balancing self-serving and sales goals and the importance of committing to a growth mindset.
💡 Name: Japna Sethi
💡 What she does: Japna leads the Product-Led Growth team at Productboard.
💡 Company: Productboard
💡 Noteworthy: Japna currently leads the Growth team at Productboard. She has been at the forefront of driving growth at leading technology companies like Dropbox and has also been an active angel investor in cutting-edge products like HeadsUp. Japna has a diverse set of product experiences ranging from growth, mobile, productivity and collaboration to health and hardware.
⚡ Balancing self-serving and sales goals is a challenge.
Every company must have a growth team to help increase the rate of customer acquisition, retention, and revenue by optimizing products and inventing new marketing channels. But there are many challenges that these teams face. As Japna says, one of them is balancing self-serving and sales goals. "On one hand, you have a goal on volume; on the other hand, you have a sales pipeline goal. Especially in the B2B growth space, I think I hear this challenge a lot, and we certainly experience that rapid experimentation versus taking big bets. There's a time and place for both; you can do just one or the other, and you need to be able to think about that. I think that pretty much applies across the board, no matter what your business or go-to-market is."
⚡ Advocating a growth mindset is essential.
More and more startups are building a growth team within their structure, but many people who are joining the team are new and haven't worked in growth before. Japna notes that this is why advocating for a growth mindset is essential. "People haven't worked in that type of style, and they don't understand what success looks like, and what's the modus operandi. Being data-informed versus data-driven, I am not a fan of the latter because you can't use critical thinking or qualitative thinking there; you have to be able to fuse all the insights from the market, customer research, and data in order to drive decisions. So, if you're purely looking at data, I think you really missed the mark there."
⚡ Sales, CS, and marketing should have a relationship with the growth team.
The ideal relationship between the sales, CS, and marketing in-house is with the growth team. According to Japna, ideally, your GTM colleagues have teams aligned with the same goals as you. Although it is difficult to achieve, she had the opportunity to experience this good relationship. "Before Productboard, I worked at Dropbox, and we had a commercial high-velocity sales team that was 100% aligned to the top-level goals as we were. And we worked very closely, and the collaboration was excellent. And we had a product marketing team and a brand team which were 100% aligned with what we wanted to do. And that's really one where you can raise the flag and say, 'This is how a great structure is.' But it really needs to be codified from a leadership level down and agreed upon as a leadership level."
💜 Japna's Team at Productboard
"I have an engineering leader and a design leader as my partners and counterparts. And we've built over three teams within growth: acquisition, activation, specifically around the trial experience for our paid plans, monetization and pricing, and packaging. So, that's how we've structured the teams from an EPD sense. And my days are usually operating around the teams and what's going on there. But we also have a weekly touchpoint across the organization. So, there's a cross; there are other organizations that also have growth or growth E people, essentially anyone who's looking to scale product marketing experiences to a higher velocity or a larger number of customers. So, we've got growth marketing people, a scaled customer success team, and our commercial sales team. We meet with those folks in the other organizations on a weekly basis, at least, and also on a monthly basis, we look at our business; we roll up our sleeves and look at it together."
💜 Relationships between the Teams at Productboard
"Customer success is a great example of where they have a scaled customer success team; they're trying to go from the one-to-one to the one-to-many experiences. And we are very much aligned because we have the same goals, and we can actually leverage each other's content and bounce ideas off each other; we're very collaborative. […]
On the sales side, I would say it's kind of mixed because sometimes we have the same goals, but sometimes, we don't, and we're trying to move more and more upmarket over time. But generally, the relationship is that we are able to have pretty good conversations about the trade-offs we want to make, and ultimately, we both want to be driving revenue at the end of the day.
And then marketing, that's where our relationship breaks down because their team is very under-resourced. The sales team, the growth team, the customer success team — we've been around for longer. And for the marketing team, they have to start someplace and grow. So, they can only take on one goal; they only have so many people and so much time. And it's unfortunately not the goal that would support the growth team's goal."
💜 Using Revenue to Prioritize
"When you have a product-led growth go-to-market motion that's already up and running, having a revenue goal makes sense. That is its own go-to-market distribution motion. You want to monetize your free user base, or you want to expand upon the user base and use some engagement loops to have growth. But if you don't have anything, and you're starting from scratch, putting a revenue goal in place and saying, 'This is the impact,' doesn't really make sense because you don't really know the potential. Like, you could crunch numbers all day, and you'll never get to the right number. So, I'm wary of always using revenue to prioritize because I think it's very short-term and makes people lose sight of long-term strategic bets."
💜 Collaboration between the CS Team and the Growth Team
"They don't have engineering, product, or design; they're very much focused on customer touchpoints. So, they have a whole coaching program; they set up group demos; they do workshops to be able to set up specific workflows in the product; they built an entire academy. They're very much content-focused, and they're also our close partners because they actually interact with the customer more often than we do. So, we get quite a lot of learnings from them."
[11:01] "What I'm shooting for is taking on the goal and getting dedicated resources or X percent dedicated resources to that goal, and then having single-threaded owners who are responsible for those goals be a part of our weekly and monthly cross-organizational alignment."
[14:07] "If you have a clear stack rank from the leadership of how they want to be balancing resources between different goals and what they want to achieve by the end of the year or in six to 12 months, then you can make a plan backward as to what is possible and have that trade-off conversation."
[15:31] "Make your engineers sign up for the product goals; every company in EPD should have the same goal."
[21:41] "From a general level, yes, I do think that the different functional areas should be aligned to a top-level goal. It's just that I think the goals need to be more nuanced, depending on what the strategy is."