How to Get Product and Marketing Teams Aligned
It’s a collaboration that’s so crucial to the success of a SaaS business, yet the disconnect between the two groups is often to the detriment of the organization. So how can you get the product and marketing teams to work together to create better alignment and results?
In this week’s episode, we have a deep and thought-provoking conversation with SaaS leader Matt Young (Chief Executive Officer, UserVoice) about where he believes the great misalignment lies. Matt also elaborates on what mistakes product and marketing teams should avoid, what “bridge building” tactics they can implement for better collaboration, and what metrics they should be paying attention to.
Topics discussed in this episode:
Christian Klepp, Matt Young
Christian Klepp 00:00
Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discussed our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp. Welcome, everyone, to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host, Christian Klepp. And today, I’d like to welcome a guest who is on a mission. Among other things, he aims to bridge the gap between the product and the marketing teams in the world of SaaS. So coming to us from Raleigh, North Carolina, Mr. Matt Young, welcome to the show.
Matt Young 00:49
Hey, Christian, thanks for having me.
Christian Klepp 00:52
Great to be connected, Matt. And I’m really looking forward to this conversation because, boy, this is a topic that I think people in the SaaS world are struggling with on a daily basis. And I don’t even think that’s, that’s an exaggeration.
Matt Young 01:05
I don’t think so either. And it’s not a relationship that’s unique to product and marketing teams. But there’s a special place in people’s hearts for product teams and every SaaS company and that relationship. So anything that we can do to bridge those gaps.
Christian Klepp 01:21
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you can almost call it an age old conflict, but just kind of transcended beyond the two original fields, let’s say because, you know, as people evolve, and professions evolve, it’s kind of like, these, these conflicts between groups, kind of like transcends the different functions, right?
Matt Young 01:38
It’s been interesting. I mean, like, for time immemorial, there’s been a marketing team at every company that has existed, but the concept of a product team is relatively new. So the notion of them being handed so much power as perceived by other areas of the business, it’s unsurprising that creates some tension sometimes.
Christian Klepp 01:58
Absolutely, absolutely. So, Matt, you know, you’re a leader in SaaS, in product management and software engineering, and you’ve been running a successful SaaS business for many years. So for this conversation, let’s narrow down that topic a little bit. And it’s something that, you know, it’s paramount in, you know, for success in the SaaS world. And that’s getting the product and marketing teams on the same page. And that kind of sounds really simple. Well, we all know that there are varying levels of complexity there. But talk to us about why you believe this is so important.
Matt Young 02:29
Yeah. Obviously, in any organization, it’s important for all the different divisions of the organization to work hand in hand and work well together, but especially between product and marketing. I think those two teams in any SaaS business have a very particular focus on providing value. In the product teams case, building a product that actually provides value; in the marketing teams case, they need to express that value to drive up the customer base and get people interested. So the mission is the same, really like the expression of value towards a market that’s there is a shared goal across product and marketing teams. And yet in practice, there’s so often gold on different outcomes, which is really just weird to me. So getting them together to solve that problem is really important.
Christian Klepp 03:20
Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. And that, you know, that’s a great segue into the next question, which is a little bit of a deep dive, right. So explain what you think, or where you think the common disconnect lies between the product marketing teams and how they should be addressed?
Matt Young 03:36
Yeah, I think it manifests itself, most commonly under the guise of research. So marketing teams do marketing research all the time, product teams do product research all the time. They’re both trying to listen very carefully to the audiences that are out there. And it has always seemed weird to me, that they’re trying to understand kind of the same things. And they don’t often share that information as it comes in. They view it as two different types of research, which I don’t think is true at all. Marketing teams are trying to figure out how to best express the solutions to problems that a company is producing. And product teams are trying to understand what the real problems are, ideally, if they’re doing it the right way. So they provide real value to people. So they do a lot of research. And in the end, like you’ve got a product team, that’s looking at what the marketing team produces, and sometimes thinking themselves, gosh, what they’re just… where are they? They’re in space. They’re not describing the same product that we produced. And the marketing team on the other hand is wondering, you know why the product team is sitting up in their ivory tower producing something that just does not jibe with what they’re hearing from the audience that they’re trying to sell to. And like most great problems in any company or a SaaS company in particular, communication is where it all breaks down. So I think the disconnect primarily lives in the fact that it isn’t a historical relationship that’s… whose garden has tended very carefully the relationship between product and marketing. And so some more attention to that is due. And this is something that we’ve, you know, at my company learned, acutely over the past 12 months, as we’ve been embarking on our latest ventures and what we’re doing. So this is why it was so interesting to talk to you about it, because I think it’s just so rare that there’s overlap in discussions between marketing teams and product teams.
Christian Klepp 05:31
Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. And, you know, it’s, it’s almost like hand gestures, it’s almost like they’re going like this, right?
Matt Young 05:38
Christian Klepp 05:40
They’re like talking past each other. Right?
Matt Young 05:42
It’s, you know, since most of us are working remotely, our company has obviously shifted to work remotely, it makes the problem even worse, because you know, where, now you don’t even bump into someone in the hallway, or have a casual conversation over lunch with a co-worker, where you kind of get an anecdotal or you know, just coincidental discussion with someone about what they’re doing. Now that we’re all just on Zoom calls all day talking to our teams, with our regularly scheduled meetings, the opportunities to create those relationships dropped even further. So I think it’s, it was actually us going remote when the pandemic first hit that made this problem acute enough for us to address it, like the pain grew so much that someone finally said, Hey, man, we don’t know enough about what you’re doing. And this is creating difficulty in us doing our job. But finally, someone said that where you just might be ignorant to that problem existing at all.
Christian Klepp 06:39
Yeah, it’s almost like an out of sight, out of mind, as they say, and it took, it took some drastic changes, like working from home to amplify, as you said, amplify those pain points and those challenges and to get people to like, sit down and say, Okay, folks, we got to find a way to solve this problem.
Matt Young 06:58
We do. And that’s, if there’s a common thread across the relationship between product and marketing, and the relationship between any one division of one company and another. I think a lot of us are kind of focused on doing the job that we were hired to do, whether you’re a software engineer or a marketer, or a salesperson. If you’re a salesperson talking to a prospect, your job is to close the deal. Your job is not to relate to the marketing team, something like hey, you know, it was this piece of content that brought them to us, or it was, you know, this line that really resonated with them, so that the marketing team doesn’t get that feedback. In the same way, a product team needs to hear what the marketing team is learning. And a product team needs to share with the marketing team, what they have learned in their research as well. So this, this all came to a head when we were building a new product over the course of the past year. And the product team is, you know, busy at work, rolling up their sleeves, doing interview after interview and survey after survey. We were summarizing all that stuff. We were presenting it in all hands meetings, we were sharing it in digested form, with the marketing team and all the other interested parties in the company. And our Head of Marketing came to me and said I feel like we don’t know enough. Which to me just seems crazy. Like, you know, we’re researching things more deeply than we ever have before. We’re sharing things in these… You know, not only are we sharing summaries, but all of the raw data as well. It’s all right there. It’s all been summarized for people like… Well, well, what more do you need? And it’s like, well, there’s no human connection to this. There’s no color around it. It’s all just raw data. So like, one of our marketing team members is like, Well, can I sit in on the interviews? Of course you can. Like that’s, that’s just fine. There’s no reason not to do that. We’re just try not to waste people’s time if they have too many things to do, or if they’re busy with that. But marketing is rightfully saying like I need to know the emotion behind what people are saying not just the facts, not just the things they react well to, the things that they do or don’t like, but where did they lean in? Where did their body language say, I’m really excited about this so that they can turn around and turn that into something really compelling. That helps us out a lot.
Christian Klepp 09:20
Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. And I think you brought up a great point because you know, beneath all this technology and all these processes and systems there are people right like it’s almost like you’re lifting up the hood and or looking behind the scenes as they say right to see the people that are, you know, working every day to like, make these, you know, make these changes happen.
Matt Young 09:42
Yeah. And you, you know, marketers will tell you, you do need to create an emotional reaction in people in order to get them to take action. Whether that’s, you know, positive emotions work really well, negative emotions can also work well if you’re trying to point out a pain that you want people to avoid. But our mistake was that just by giving people the raw information, none of that was conveyed. Or if it was it, you know, maybe it’s not really believable because it’s coming through the lens of someone who’s in product. And if I say something like, yes, they were really excited about this, you’d rather see that firsthand. And that was a completely reasonable thing to want to see to be able to do their job better.
Christian Klepp 10:24
Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. I think you might have already answered the next question, which was about the challenge that you guys solve. It sounds like that was it.
Matt Young 10:33
Yeah, to tell you a little bit about the outcome of what we did to make that better and make that you know, not just like a one time or, you know, one example way to fix up that thing, we decided to create a weekly marketing and product team meeting, it’s only a half hour long. In all, I also am like, I don’t need any more regular meetings on my calendar. That’s, that’s no fun. But what we’re really trying to do is we created a product and marketing team research meeting. And what we’re really trying to do is share the things that we’ve learned as our individual efforts, and then also try to help each other out with ways to increase the quality of the results of the research that we did. So the product team might have shared, like, Hey, here’s the survey, we’re thinking about running and the marketing team could look at it and say, hey, you know, if you could sneak in a couple of these words, we’re really interested in understanding if people react well to those words, because we’re thinking about putting those in the hero line of something that we’re going to produce. Or on the product team, we have, we have some expertise in behavioral science on the product team. So we were able to help the marketing team think a little bit differently about some of the ways that they were considering testing some things. I never want to say like it was good or bad, or improve or not, like the ability to do research is something that most of us are just not trained scientifically to do. So we’re all just trying to help each other out and come up with new ideas. So this meeting is just created like a regular touch point that’s always there. It’s always on the calendar. Sometimes the topic goes off of research, sometimes we’re talking about a campaign that’s launching, or we’re talking about a hiccup in product development, or something that we learned that’s causing us to, to change direction a little bit. But I think everyone knows, like, hey, at least on Thursday afternoon at three, I will have an opportunity to talk to this team and raise any any questions or concerns that I’ve got.
Christian Klepp 12:32
Which I think is a step in the right direction. Because I mean, you know, what that creates is, is an atmosphere of like, well, a transparency and open communication, because then both sides know what the, you know, then you can have a so called know what the, you know, the left hand and the right hand are doing. Right?
Matt Young 12:50
Yeah. It’s also building a lot of human connection, which when people work in different disciplines, my background is not in marketing. So for some people, like degrees of trust are difficult. For some people, it’s, you know, hey, I know you’re good at your job, go do it. I know you’re great at it. Other people are more skeptical. I come from a computer science background. So I’m a logical I need to know how it works to truly understand that kind of person. So it’s natural for people just have questions not to like question your competency or anything like that. But how does that work? You know, why, why is that important? And I think that extra dose of education, just helps people empathize more, see how to help each other more. All good things have come from it.
Christian Klepp 13:37
Yeah, yeah. I can imagine, I can imagine. You touched on this a little bit. Explain the importance of conducting research for product development, and whose responsibility you think it is to do that?
Matt Young 13:50
Let’s tackle that last question first, whose responsibility is it to do product research? In a in a company that sells a product, I think the answer to that is everyone who works at that company. No one gets a free pass. Our office admin. And you know, anyone who has an office admin will tell you like, they’re the heart of the company. They’re the one that knows how everyone’s feeling, everyone’s doing. Even when they’re out socializing, or at a party or something like that. They mentioned where they work and they hear like, either it’s a great place to work or oh, our company uses that. We think it’s great. I want that information, I want the information that every salesperson hears, that every market research focus group produces, all of that that happens. So on a basic level, I want everyone’s ears to be as open as possible to capture that information and make sure that it goes beyond the borders of the team that hears it. And beyond the purpose of that that role in the organization. Ultimately, different divisions need to do different kinds of research, the research that you do for marketing is a little bit different from the research that you would do in products. But I think that sharing the results of that information we’ve learned has been really beneficial across the entire organization. For the obvious reason that you know, you, you learn what other people learn, but it also helps from an efficiency perspective, because no one needs to repeat something that’s already been answered. Our company, like a lot of lot of companies, it’s often difficult finding enough people to talk to that fit the criteria, whether it’s marketing research or product research. There’s only so many people that will talk to you and so much budget, you have to create incentives, if you’re going to use incentives through research, that creating efficiency in research is really important, too. So yeah, we want to make sure that everyone really listens. And then any research efforts that the company does undertake, even close loss research that a sales team might do, that should get shared to the marketing team, that should get shared to the product team as well.
Christian Klepp 15:52
Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. So if I understood you correctly, it’s, it’s pretty much everyone’s responsibility. But clearly everyone, depending on their function and the role, like they have different types of responsibilities, right? So there’s, there’s a difference between, for example, collecting the information, and then analyzing and doing this synthesis, and the framing, and so on…
Matt Young 16:16
And what you’re gonna do with it, right. So I think there’s a lot of overlap between what product teams and marketing teams are trying to learn, they’re trying to learn pain points, they’re trying to learn what the opportunities are, as you get next level deep, a product team will take that information and try to come up with a solution to that problem, a marketing team will try to figure out how to concisely express the solution to the problem so that it resonates with people and they get more and more interested in what the company has to provide.
Christian Klepp 16:45
Yeah, exactly, exactly. You brought up maybe one or two points in the past couple of minutes. But from your experience, what do you think, I don’t know if it’s a thing, or it’s a process or a system, but what would you consider the great unifier between the product marketing teams?
Matt Young 17:01
Oh, gosh, um, that’s a difficult question to answer, because I think that, you know, up till now, at least in our organization, I think in most, there’s been a pretty big gap between product teams and marketing teams. So maybe I’ll approach that question a little bit differently, and talk about what the great divider is. And through that, hopefully, we find a path through it. And I think that I first thought about this, when I was thinking about the relationship between product teams and engineering teams. Product teams are usually the here’s what we’re going to do. And engineering teams have the tools to get that thing done. And it’s a very, almost insulting relationship. To put it that way. Hey, engineering team, you’re very smart people, you’re very well paid. And yet, you’re just a tool. And I don’t want you to think or do anything. And if you think about product teams and marketing teams, they might have a similar kind of relationship, hey, we’re going to build it, you go sell it. And that’s professionally, kind of disappointing, I think, to try to have that kind of relationship. But I think the reason that that exists is because the goals of each of those organizations are set very differently, especially the quantifiable goals. product teams are often gold on the adoption of features that they build, how many people are using them? How often are they being used. And marketing teams are looking at how big their funnel is, conversion rates between steps in the funnel, that sort of thing. One thing that we did a couple years ago is we tried to make sure that at our company, we had very clear top line business goals that were relatable to everyone. A lot of companies expressed goals. And it’s kind of hard to translate those down into organizations and really understand how a marketing organization or a product organization will help a company reach its goals. If you think about common goals like increasing revenue, growth, retention, breaking into a new market, that sort of thing. The way that we’ve helped unify these different groups is by saying, Okay, our goal is growth. We want to grow 20% year over year, something like that. Product team, how are you going to do that? Marketing team, how are you going to do that. And don’t just relay that information up to the executive level, who’s going to create accountability for those teams to do those things. But kind of cross matrix that information to other organizations so that the product team understands why the marketing teams goals are important and will move the needle. So that if there’s a relationship between what the product team is doing and marketing team is doing, they can help each other out and make sure that everything is kind of aligned to achieve the maximal result, not just a siloed result for each organization. This became obvious to me not being a marketer, because, okay, you know, we want to do six blog posts in a quarter. Cool. Tell me how that changes growth. And there’s, there’s a couple of hops you have to make, to understand how that turns into the bottom line. And how is the product person going to know what that is, unless someone it’s not that hard to explain, but someone needs to take the time to explain it. So I really think that a shared companywide goals become critical. And then the ability for each group to express how they’re going to assist towards the achievement of those goals and explain it to each other. Really, can help get everyone… I hate this cliche, but like rowing in the same direction. And getting stuff done the right way.
Christian Klepp 20:41
Spoken like a true engineer, where you start from like identifying the challenge or the issue and then working your way backwards from there to find a solution. But that’s definitely one way to tackle this question.
Matt Young 20:54
It is. There’re plenty of ways to tackle it, I’m sure. But you know, I like logic, I like order. And that’s the way my brain looks at it.
Christian Klepp 21:03
That’s perfectly fine. And, you know, you brought up something which I thought was such a great comparison, because it’s almost… you can almost liken this to, again, there’s so many examples, but I’m just going to use the example of like, a, like, it’s a team sport, right? So take your pick, whether it’s basketball, or soccer, and so forth, right? Everybody on the team has to understand what their position is, what their role is, and how they are gonna like help to, you know, work together with the other team members in order to achieve that same goal. And the same thing can go for these, these different teams, right, that have these different responsibilities. And, you know, they’re looking at different things. But at the end of the day, they have, they have the same goal.
Matt Young 21:48
Yeah, even if you’ve got a superstar on your team, the top gold producer, something like that. Cool, naturally we’re all human beings, that’s going to create some resentment among the people who are not that person. But the moment that person starts helping other people and helping to explain why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how they get there, it just the tension level in the room just drops dramatically. And it’s really, really nice.
Christian Klepp 22:20
Yeah, no, absolutely.
Matt Young 22:22
There’s these, these other benefits too where, you know, the side benefits, like we’re all intellectually curious people. I don’t have time to get a degree in marketing, I may not have the interest to get a degree in marketing. But I do want to learn about it. Like if the if there were Discovery Channel shows about marketing, I would stop on it, and listen to it and watch it. Just because the more you know about it, like, you’re interested, you’re curious, you want to know, and it will help you do your job. A whole lot better. And I think to you know, it as another kind of, like, sports related type analogy, think about the parents who parent by telling their kids will do this, because I said so. I’m the parent, I’m the expert. It maps really well into a product team like, well, yeah, we’re building this because that’s what our research told us. Period. Like, you have to show your work or it. It won’t gain traction with people.
Christian Klepp 23:19
Exactly, exactly. And goes back to like, you know, building that trust building that rapport, right, like finding those connections, seeing the bigger picture.
Matt Young 23:29
Oddly, I don’t even know that it’s always a trust thing. I think it’s people’s mislaid efforts to try to save other people’s time, where, you know, for most people, like if you come ask them about what they’re doing or what their job is, they’d love to tell you about it. You know, they’re eager to explain to you, yeah, this is great. This is how this works. This is why I’m excited about it. The other really nice thing that happens if you do that is that on the backside of any effort, you know, of all the things that we try, some of them work, some of them don’t work, some of them are kept catastrophic failures, or some of them are astounding successes. If we’ve all been brought along for the ride together, if we all understood like, yes, I think what you’re doing is a good idea because you explain to me why you’re doing it, and all the information behind it, then if it doesn’t work, like cool, you know, we can all learn from that. And there’s no finger pointing, there’s no blame. There’s just our ability to learn and get better as a group of people trying to achieve a goal.
Christian Klepp 24:29
Hey, it’s Christian Klepp here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting, our experienced consultants will work with you to help your B2B business to succeed and scale. Go to www.einblick.co for more information.
That’s exactly it. All right. Matt, here we go. Give us something actionable here. Right. So what can the product and marketing team start using today, tomorrow, appreciating that a lot of these things probably won’t happen overnight. But you know, when they start doing to get better alignment of results?
Matt Young 25:15
Yeah, I think if you’re in an organization, you know that this should work with product and marketing or any other team that you’re curious about, find somebody. Start with a single person, I think it’s very hard to get people like, hey, we need to have a meeting or blah, blah, blah, because then you get like, leaders getting protective of people’s time, etc. Just, you know, over Slack, or whatever it is, say, you know, hey, Jennifer, do you mind if I pick your brain a little bit about this, this new microsite you’re putting up? I’m curious about it. I have a couple questions. I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind hopping on and letting me learn a little bit about it from you. If you start on an interpersonal level, I think it ends up with a snowball effect where those two people get together, they become an advocate for the relationship. And that’s the kind of thing that the relationship between the two teams, and that’s the kind of thing that makes it really easy to get more people together and more understanding rolling. So I would say make a buddy, if you guys work locally in an office or something like that, just go get coffee, go get a drink, whatever, whatever your company culture is to go do stuff like that. If you’re remote, you know, Hey, have you got five or 10 minutes doesn’t need to be a big deal. If you ask for five or 10 minutes, usually going to get 30. Because people love to talk about what they’re doing and all that stuff. And it’s, you know, you might even just get a good friend out of it in addition to like some professional benefit. I say this as an introvert knowing that like, I’m asking you to do something that’s difficult. Yeah, I get it. But yeah, if you think about the… if you think about that short term pain, like stepping out of your comfort zone to ask someone to talk about something versus the ongoing self-doubt, nagging inside your head, thought distortion of like these people are incompetent, and they don’t believe what they’re doing, etc. You can get rid of all of that just by taking a few minutes to get together with somebody.
Christian Klepp 27:12
Absolutely, absolutely. And to go back to I thought that was a great analogy, the one about the theme of parenting, where you’re trying to, like force an agenda onto people and then just saying like, do it because I say so. Right. And we all know that’s not… that’s a road to nowhere pretty much right?
Matt Young 27:29
Yeah, it… I mean, it may work short term. And my… I haven’t told you guys what my title is yet, but it’s pretty high up there. Like I have the authority to do that if I want to. And there are times… anyone who works at my company is listening to this sorry, but there are times when I really wish I could say that but there are very few always and never’s in the world. And that’s one of the Nevers, it’s, you make it what you want in the short term. But long term, you’re gonna… you’ll take more of a hit than a benefit that you’ll get in the short term.
Christian Klepp 28:05
Oh, yes. Oh, yes, I believe that. I believe that. Okay. For this next question. I mean, let’s try to like keep it to like the world of SaaS, and even then, then it might still be a bit broad, but what are some, let’s just say maybe two or three key trends and shifts in the market that you’ve seen, that you think are going to impact the way the product and marketing teams work?
Matt Young 28:26
There are a lot of them. Um I think the notion of disrupter… a word that everyone loves to use in SaaS, I think it’s dead. And I think it’s dead because there’s no longer the notion of a singular entrant into the market that’s going to upend everything. Technology is very easy to develop. There are more companies and more competitors than you can count showing up in any given day. So instead of this like boogeyman type disrupter thing that you might think about, there’s more of this just tidal wave of onslaught coming at you all the time, and it is easier than ever to discover for new products, it is easier than ever to switch products, not least because of like data portability laws in Europe that are spreading around elsewhere too. But because of that, I think the shift, it’s no longer as hard as it used to be, like, get people to know about your product and get people to try it out product lead growth is helping with that. A lot of us have free trials, etc. I think there’s going to be this shift towards retention as more important than new business generation. Because it’s so easy to switch. And that’s going to change how we work and what we focus on, particularly in marketing. Over the, you know, the next five years, or whatever the current iteration of SaaS as it exists today is going to look like.
Christian Klepp 30:03
Yeah, no, those are some really interesting points. And one of them, of course, being that people, you know, have more choices now. They can easily switch. And I thought it was a great point that you brought up. And I hope I understood this correctly, retention over new subscription.
Matt Young 30:18
Yep. You know, if you look at the old SaaS economics 2.0 article that describes, you know, it makes very clear through graphs, the effect of retention on your overall growth rate, versus new business and having to plug a hole in retention. Keeping your audience is harder than it’s ever been. The focus on it is going to have to be not just the business of a customer success team, not just the business of a product team delivering something new and shiny, not just the renewals person that goes but marketing is going to have to step into play there too. And historically, they’ve been really good in product marketing and advertising, new features and all that stuff. But playing defense against competitors, and making sure that a continuous focus on the value that your company can provide, versus either historical or new entrants in the market is going to be critical.
Christian Klepp 31:15
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. No thought about that.
Matt Young 31:18
Yeah, it’s, it’s not just going to be, hey, look at the shiny new feature anymore. It’s got, it’s got to be something that speaks to the original, like value prop and position, the reason they came to you in the first place, and how you can reemphasize that and make sure that people stay with you. That’s an important takeaway for product teams, too. We keep drumming on the fact that we need to make sure that we’re revalidating the thing that we learned a year ago or two years ago, and as the market shifted has, you know, people’s point of view on your product versus others shifted, market teams will need to research that. Product teams will need to research that and make sure that they’re adjusting the way that they talk to customers. So that that is clear to people too.
Christian Klepp 32:00
It almost seems and this is probably like the nature of the beast, at least in SaaS, right? It seems to be this constant cycle of continuous iteration. And I wouldn’t even say reinvention, but you just have to keep adopting to these market dynamics that seem to be in constant motion. Right?
Matt Young 33:18
In the end, I mean, that was the promise of SaaS, right? Like you’re subscribing to software that will continuously evolve with your needs. So that you don’t need to constantly be looking around for what’s new, and what’s better. And you don’t have to go through the pain of shifting from one product to another. And we’ve all done that a million times. And it’s never any fun. But most SaaS companies, they kind of produce their software, and there might be minor iterative improvements to it, but not improvements that really follow the trends in the way business is getting done in whatever space they operate in. And that’s, that’s an area of, you know, I think both product and marketing improvement that’s gonna, it’s gonna need to show up in the next couple years.
Christian Klepp 32:59
Yeah, yeah, no, exactly. Exactly. Okay, Matt, if you’ll permit me, let me just set up this next question a little bit. Yeah, like, let’s, let’s just appreciate that, like not everything can be measured in quantifiable terms here. Right. But what metrics, if any, should product and marketing teams be paying attention to that will show them that there is that there is progress, that there is some positive improvement on the horizon?
Matt Young 33:29
Yeah, and this is really a hard question to answer, right. I think a lot of people know the industry standard metrics that people look at for whatever discipline that they do. But how can you correlate those metrics with the business’s total goals and see what the impact of a marketing effort was on growth versus the impact of a new product feature or something like that? And it’s a it’s a challenge that I do not have the answer for. If someone could figure out how to tie those things together. They would have an amazing product that would make a bazillion dollars and be the new Salesforce of SaaS. Right. That said, though, like, we at least come up with sensible proxies to make sure that we know. And if I think one thing that we like to do is we don’t just look at the quantifiable information, we look at qualitative information too. So if we think that a marketing campaign had the effect of bringing in a new customer, we will go talk to that customer and find out, hey, you know, without leading the witness, you know, doing good product research or doing good marketing research always means don’t lead the witness. So you ask an open ended question. And you say something like, Hey, ultimately, how did you learn about us? And they’ll tell you something like, it was a Google search or coworker like, okay, cool. But what do you remember seeing, you know, what was? Was there a phrase, was there an image? Was there, something that got you there. And so we always use the numbers, which the numbers are hard to tie together, but we use the numbers as an indicator for us to know where to dig deeper, where to get more qualitative information to find out like, what’s really working and what’s not really working, so we can lean into what’s working and drop what’s in hot as soon as we can.
Christian Klepp 35:21
That was a great answer. I mean, like, you know, granted that there is there is no, as you said, no perfect solution to this yet.
Matt Young 35:27
Christian Klepp 35:28
Or there might not ever be one, right?
Matt Young 35:30
Yeah. So use, I think you use the research that you do. And that nagging question that you have in the back of your head that is critical, and says, well, this doesn’t really tell me what I want to know, get up off your button, go find out like talk to a few people. It’s it, you don’t have to talk to hundreds of people or, or any of that, like a handful of conversations will tell you like if there’s consistency across what those five people say, it’s probably true. Right? And that gets you good enough signal in a pretty short period of time to understand what’s going on.
Christian Klepp 36:02
Yeah, well, it’s absolutely right. Okay, so here comes, A status quo. And let’s narrow it down to this topic about, you know, bridging the gap between product and marketing teams, a status quo that you passionately disagree with? And why?
Matt Young 36:21
I’m gonna I’m gonna alter your question again, just a little bit, if you don’t mind and go, I’m going to zoom out a bit. I think the entire playbook for how SaaS software is sold today needs to be thrown out the window.
Christian Klepp 36:35
Oh, okay. Let’s have it.
Matt Young 36:39
Here’s why. This is no one’s fault. So you know, if you work in marketing, or you work in product, and I am, I am guilty of this, my company’s guilty of this, we’re all guilty of this. Every SaaS company that I know of, is over saturating educational communication channels, they find something that people are interested in, like blog posts, as a good example, like, when was the last time you read a blog post that really seemed objective and not self-serving in some way? Like, it doesn’t happen that much. Yeah. When was the last time you looked at a website for SaaS software, and we’re like, I believe everything they say. And this is going to be to like, when was the last time you bought a piece of SaaS software. And you were completely satisfied. Because what you felt like you were buying is exactly what you got, and maybe even exceeds your expectations. That’s very rare to happen these days. And I think that’s, in some cases, of course, it’s because of like misaligned expectations from a buyer or something like that. But a lot of the time, we all get tempted to like, I don’t know, be a little bit hand wavy in what we say or you know, a little like, let people assume things that may or may not be true. So to provide a solution to this, I think we need to get a lot more human in our communication about what software is really here to do, and what our products are really here to do, and speak to people directly and empathetically. And I know that’s what a lot of marketing aims to do and all that but I feel in some cases is just not earnest. It’s, it’s there to answer to the investors and grow the bottom line as quickly as they can. And I think we’re all starting to see through that. And it’s hurting us all as an industry. Because we… it’s actually lengthening, lengthening sales cycles, because people are rightfully skeptical, and that they need a lot of proof that your product is going to do the right thing before they’re willing to sign on the dotted line. So I really want to make sure that there’s a lot more empathy and transparency in the way that we all talk about our products and the way that we sell them to people, the way that we build them the way, that we continue to serve people’s needs and therefore like benefit and retention because they trust you as people, even if your software has flaws and doesn’t do everything that they want it to do. And they feel like they’ve, that you’re a straight shooter, that you’re been honest with them, about what you can and cannot do for them. And that you have their best interests at heart. To bring it back to like, why the product and marketing relationship is so important. And that it’s because product and marketing are so often so far apart from one another, they really need to work together to be able to bring that to life, without a relationship there, you’re gonna end up with a marketing team that unintentionally makes promises that the product can’t keep. And the product team will not learn from the marketing team, really what the broader audience out there is saying and what they want to hear. So that relationship is critical to what I think is the next iteration of like, a more transparent, more honest way to sell software to people.
Christian Klepp 40:10
That was… that answer was so spot on. And I mean, like, you know, it goes back to what you were saying, like, if the marketing people like, communicate something about the product, and it doesn’t actually deliver on that. And you know, that then the disconnect starts all over again. And then it gets people in more trouble than they’ve, you know, they’ve signed up for.
Matt Young 40:31
You don’t need dissatisfied customers. That does no one any good. Like they’re gonna walk out the door. They’re, you know, for whatever you might think of G2 crowd or Capterra. Like, you’re gonna hear about it there or, you know, um, you know, I feel like SaaS offers gonna go back to a word of mouth sale, you see a lot of trends towards a product lead sale, where people are actually trying out product to make sure that it does what they needed to do. That’s going to continue for sure. So our ability to like, actually catch people’s ears is going to go away completely, unless we can give them something that’s actually add value to them.
Christian Klepp 41:07
Yeah, that’s absolutely right. Matt, this has been such a great and, you know, incredibly interesting and insightful and, um, dare I say, thought provoking session. So thanks again for coming on the show.
Matt Young 41:20
I appreciate it.
Christian Klepp 42:22
Thank you. Thank you so much. Um, very quickly, just quick intro to yourself, and how many folks out there can get in touch with you?
Matt Young 41:29
Sure. Oh, my name is Matt Young. I am the CEO of a company called User Voice. User Voice delivers products for product managers that let you listen to what the market is saying about your product, what they want out of your product, engage with customers. So if you need to research something a little bit more deeply, you can, you know, ask those people questions and things like that, and then analyze it and try to see you know, what’s, what’s the best bet? You know, what are your… what’s the biggest opportunities coming out there. You can learn more about what we do and what we sell at uservoice.com. I’m on LinkedIn, if you search for Matt Young User Voice, you’ll find me. We also you know, hopefully, you guys have learned that I’m not the “grow at all costs”, you know, climb on the mountain of the backs of everyone’s kind of person, I’m really interested in solving real problems are real people. So we love to have conversations. So if this was thought provoking, or we can help you in any way, like no pressure, non salesy firstname.lastname@example.org, feel free. I love hearing about people’s problems. And if we can, if I can, or anyone on our team can lend a hand just to chat. Happy to do that.
Christian Klepp 42:43
Fantastic. Fantastic. Once again, Matt, thanks so much for your time. Take care, stay safe and talk to you soon.
Matt Young 42:50
Yeah, this was a lot of fun. Thanks very much for having me, Christian. Appreciate it.
Christian Klepp 42:54
Take care. Bye for now.
Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK, please visit our website at www.einblick.co and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.
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