What are some best practices in how to market to your target buyers? Well, I had the great privilege of being interviewed by Maia Morgan Wells of ClearPivot, a premier HubSpot service provider and digital agency. In the 35-minute podcast interview, I share our perspective on the following seven questions:

  1. What is the most important thing for a SaaS product to have in place before going to market?
  2. How does a SaaS determine the best route to market?
  3. How about choosing marketing channels? 
  4. What kind of data do you use to make these strategic decisions?
  5. What’s an example of an unexpected success with a SaaS go-to-market you’ve led recently?
  6. How about a route to market that didn’t work as you expected?
  7. What is your favorite current initiative or project? 

You can scroll down the transcript of the podcast below to zoom in on the specific topic you’re interested in. And please leave a comment as we’d love to hear from you on what works and doesn’t work when it comes to your marketing channels.

Transcript:

Maia Wells:
Welcome to the Marketing Hero podcast. I’m your host, Maia Wells. In this episode, we are exploring the best routes to market for B2B SaaS companies and enterprise software. Join me as I talk with Sridhar Ramanathan. Before co-founding Aventi Group, which is a product marketing agency, Sridhar headed up managed services marketing at HP. He now works with big name SaaS companies like SAP, Zendesk, Smartsheet, and BambooHR. Let’s get into our discussion of routes to market for SaaS, which Sridhar will you is a heart-centric process. Sridhar Ramanathan, welcome to the show.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Great to meet you, Maia. I’m thrilled. Thanks for being the host here.

Maia Wells:
Thanks for being with us. Let’s start off with a question we like to ask all of our guests. What’s your favorite part of your professional life and how did you figure that out?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Oh, it’s such a good question. I love it. I think at the end of the day, my favorite part of my professional life is helping marketers take their game to the next level. All of our clients are big tech companies and also early stage or mid-sized companies. We deal with marketers and we love to help them take their game to the next level. They’re already good. We’ve done about 700 projects with B2B tech firms over the last 16 years. And when I say take their game to the next level, that means improve their messaging. For example, messaging and positioning, their go-to-market plans, their campaigns, their content marketing, sales enablement, all these aspects that marketers really need to do to drive pipeline and brand awareness. Those are the kinds of things that I really enjoy. It’s a favorite part of doing this thing.

Maia Wells:
And can I ask, how did you figure out that was your favorite thing? You’ve had some different parts of your career. How did you really figure out that’s where you thrive and that’s what you love doing?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
I wish I could say it was prescience and foresight and long-range planning, but not really. It was myself, my co-founder Jeff Thompson and I, when we first started this organization years ago, we found the client executives, what they wanted the most is they just needed help to take their game to the next level as I mentioned a minute ago. And Jeff and I thought of it as how do we make them heroes? How do we help them be more successful? They’re already successful. But the way we figured it out is staying true to our knitting. We, as a product marketing agency, did not start to getting into things like website design, or we didn’t try to get into email marketing or SEO, for example. We really stuck to the knitting because product marketing is the crying need that these client executives had. So we just follow what the clients are asking us for and stay true to that. So nothing more magical than that, I would say, on how we figured out our focus.

Maia Wells:
That’s an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing that with us. I just have one question before we dive into our deeper interview. What do you mean when you say client executives?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Oh, that’s a great question. So our clients are all business to business software companies. Many of them are SaaS companies and our client executive would be the chief marketing officer. It could be the VP of product marketing, VP of global marketing. Sometimes it’s often the business unit head could be the vice president general manager of a business unit. For example, SAP is a client of ours. So often there are business unit heads or VPs who are very short on product marketing talent. They have lots of other marketing people, but not product experts. So when I say client executives, it also includes those VP GMs and also campaign leaders. So those are some examples.

Maia Wells:
So if you heard your job title in that list, listen up because all of this information that you’re about to get in this podcast is some free advice from one of the top people in product marketing that you can possibly find. So, I’m just saying. It’s something to listen to if you heard your job title on [crosstalk 00:04:24] that list. So let’s dive into the interview, Sridhar, a little bit deeper. I want to know from you, my number one question is what’s the most important thing for a SaaS product to have in place before going to market?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
It’s such a good question, Maia. I think a lot of companies rush to market with a SaaS product, but they don’t really have their go-to-market plans well-thought through or even their minimal viable product, MVP, minimal viable product. And when I say go-to-market, I’m referring to all the investments, post-product completion. When the product is GA, generally available, then that’s when sales, marketing, sales enablement, demand-gen, all those elements of the GTM mix are engaged and take the product forward. What is often the most important thing is having a clear product definition. I can’t tell you how often we see products that are not really well-defined. They don’t really have the minimal viable product offering. It’s not fully baked. And that just makes the sales and marketing investment that much weaker. So what we recommend is first make sure the product is getting close to being commercially viable. And then number two, most important thing is to have a formal go-to-market plan, an actual GTM plan. Most companies do it to varying degrees. Some are very rigorous. Some don’t even do a go-to-market plan.

In fact, sometimes the engineering side of the house, the product organization will say, “Okay, we’re about to launch this product. It’s going to go GA, generally available, ready to ship in 30 days. So please marketing, go do your magic, get the website updated, all that stuff, train our reps.” That’s just not enough time. So a go-to-market plan includes a lot of really important pieces, Maia, as you already know, probably, is first off, define the category. So when you’re a SaaS product, there’s a lot of SaaS products out there. What category are you in? What’s the bucket that you fit into naturally? If it’s a new one, then make it easy to explain that category. Also be clear on who is the ideal customer profile, the ICP. What’s the ideal? It doesn’t mean you won’t sell to other verticals and other size companies, but know what’s the sweet spot and you’re totally going for. Thirdly is the target persona. Who exactly are the buying folks, the decision-makers, the gatekeepers, influencers? A clear and compelling value proposition.

I can’t tell you a lot of times SaaS companies, the engineering product side has a cool product. We’re ready to ship. Well, why is this so valuable to the company, to the prospect? What pain does it solve? What’s the differentiation? And also think about the whole buyer’s journey from thought leadership education all the way through to trial ware or evaluating and trying the software before they buy it. And then lastly, the GTM plan should include a very thorough enablement plan for both the direct sales organization, as well as channel partners. A lot of times channel partners are an afterthought. Big mistake. So a SaaS product getting to market really need to work backwards, the sales channels, the channel partners, and enabling them upfront. So long answer, but all of those are check boxes that really need to be in that go-to-market plan.

Maia Wells:
So my number one question after that, I guess it’s my number two question because that was my number one question. What that brings to mind is who is doing these things. So it really sounds like there is a sales aspect to it, a marketing aspect to it, product. What’s your secret sauce for getting all of those different people and departments on board with the go-to-market plan?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Yeah. Good question, Maia. The secret sauce, it’s not so secret, is product marketing really is the owner of go-to-market plans. Functionally the product marketing organization is the hub with spokes and all the spokes are radiating outwards. So the spokes would include other marketing functions like demand gen, mar-comm, PR, AR, analyst relations, sales enablement, the product side of the house, product management, product development, all of those are stakeholders, but the owner of the go-to-market plan should be product marketing. Most companies, it is product marketing. Some companies have the go-to-market plan owned by product management, but typically product management is concerned with getting the best product to market, to the right buyer at the right point in time. It’s really up to product marketing to create the GTM plan, go-to-market plan.

Maia Wells:
Excellent. Thanks for sharing all of those great insights. Now I want to know once you have that, let’s say you have your MVP, you’ve got your GTM. All of our wonderful acronyms are in place. We know who our ICP is. Now, how does a SaaS or software company, whichever solution you might be working on, how do they determine the best route to market?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Yeah, super question. When people say route to market or route to market, usually it is they think of channel and that’s fine. Or they might think of marketing channels. We at Aventi Group since we’ve been in business 16 years, 700 plus engagements, we like to start with, let’s talk about the target customer, going back to that ideal customer profile. Who is that ICP and the decision-makers, stakeholders within that account and who has the best relationships, should be the starting point for the route to market. So for example, let’s suppose your target decision-maker happens to be the chief information security officer. Let’s say CISO. Well, who has the best relationship with that CIO or CISO? It may not be you going direct to that CISO. It might be better or more efficient to go through the route to market might be more better served with a global system integrator. For example, like Accenture or Deloitte or PWC, it may be more efficient.

The best relationship with that target buyer, Maia, might be a solution provider, or a company that provides a lot of services. They’re already engaged with that chief information security officer. And you might be better off partnering with that partner or that solution provider in reaching that ultimate buyer, rather than going direct. It might be a lot more efficient as a route to market to go through a solution provider. It’s also very popular these days to go with managed services companies. And one example comes to my mind is Fortinet. Fortinet is a, full disclosure, client of ours. They’re in the network security business. They rely very heavily on channel partners like system integrators, like solution providers to reach the buyer, the security head. And they do some direct, but they rely as a route to market. When I say route to market, Fortinet is a good example of going through these channel organizations. 

Maia Wells:
That’s an excellent insight that I know a lot of people miss when talking about how to really reach the customer they’re trying to reach. It’s not always direct and it’s a good insight for people, especially in startup SaaS, because you might not think of those other layers that can get you there faster.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Exactly. Faster, more cost-effectively. And truthfully, that end buyer, the Fortinet example I gave you, that buyer is not used to dealing necessarily with a Fortinet. They’re more used to working with Accenture as an example. Now the flip side is there are cases where it makes absolute sense to go direct, as a route to market, to go direct to your ideal target, your ideal customer profile. BambooHR, as an example, is a SaaS company and they sell directly to the chief HR officer, C-H-R-O, VP of HR. Those are some of the buyers and they go directly. So Bamboo HR does a fantastic job marketing, selling and approaching those buyers. So route to market really depends on who has the relationship. And I personally recommend, Maia, three homework items for marketing executives when they’re thinking about the route to market, three things you really should be prepared to answer.

One is, well, what do we know about that target decision-maker and what makes them buy? What’s the purchase trigger? Really getting clear on that. Then number two, well, who has the best? Who do they already buy from? The target customer. They’re already buying products and services that may be in a contiguous market to your own market. Who do they buy from? Because those could be some logical routes to market for you to partner with. And then thirdly, look at your competition. How are your competitors going to market? Are they going through system integrators? Are they going through direct channel? Are they going through value added resellers? Because it informs your own landscape and how you can win. So those are three homework items I would suggest when you think about the best route to market.

Maia Wells:
Wow. Getting homework items, all the good tips.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Sorry.

Maia Wells:
That’s what you get here on the Marketing Hero podcast. So tell me Sridhar, so once you have decided on that route to market, that route to market, what do you then do to choose marketing channels? Because I know a lot of people think about route to market as marketing channels, as you mentioned. So differentiating that a little bit for all of our listeners. How do you go about choosing marketing channels once you’ve gotten that part situated?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
That’s a good point there, Maia, and I appreciate your highlighting the distinction between a sales channel. When I talked about channel partners and going through system integrators, those are traditionally sales channels because they have relationships with that target customer. Marketing channels is a different animal. And I like to start with the same philosophy, really understanding your target decision-maker. Where do they hang out? What are their watering holes? Watering holes, meaning what are the events that they attend? Industry events. What associations do they belong to? Perhaps they’re already in LinkedIn groups. And they might be engaging with their peers. Product review sites. Sometimes that target decision-maker will go to popular review sites like G2, like Gartner Insights, like Capterra. There may be industry analyst forums where your target buyer is hanging out. They’re attending. And nowadays with the pandemic going on, these may not be physical meetings.

They may be very much online webinars. They may be virtual events and virtual forums, trade publications, bloggers. Bloggers are very important watering hole. These are influencers who you may not recognize their name, but these are very influential people. So I would say from a marketing channel, choosing the right channel, first start off with knowing the watering holes. Two is to interview your target decision-maker. Ideally, you’ve done some customer research on where they hang out. What information are they interested in? Who do they turn to for advice? How do they go about educating themself? Your target buyer is also on a learning curve. So how do they go about learning? And I guess another factor when you think about marketing channels there, Maia, is events. A lot of times I find SaaS companies are in love with big events and just a personal opinion. Our experience is big events are not really a great ROI as a route to market marketing channel, if you will, to reach your buyers. Very expensive.

And with the pandemic, people have shifted these big physical events. They might be two-day, three-day industry events or vendor events. They moved them. They’ve just completely cut and paste and moved them over to virtual. And nobody wants to hang out in a three-day online virtual event. So I’m just trying to contrast when you choose your marketing channel, think about the ROI of your spend. If you’re doing a big trade show type of thing, it may not be the biggest bang for the buck. Instead we focus or we recommend as a marketing channel, social media. Very efficient, very targeted social media, knowing where do your target buyers hang out? What LinkedIn groups do they belong on? What other forums? And engage there. Very targeted, very cost-effective. Content marketing. You’re all B2B marketers. You know content really is critical.

So think through the whole nurturing process from thought leadership all the way through to trial ware. And then lastly, much more efficient is ABM campaigns as a channel as a way to reach your target buyer. ABM, account-based marketing, very, very focused, really disciplined. You’re not trying to spray and pray. Instead you know who the target buyer are, the size of the company, geography, personas, and you’re developing a nurturing campaign. So all of those are factors to think about when you’re designing your marketing channels.

Maia Wells:
Thank you for sharing that. I think it’s a great discussion and a great basis. If you’re taking notes here, there’s some great points to remember for later on marketing channels. Now I think that one of the questions a lot of people are asking is how are you using data in this strategic decision-making process?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Yeah. Data is incredibly important. I grew up in HP, 12 years there and I finished as an executive. So in my DNA is being a very data-driven marketing executive and folks on Aventi are the same way. We like to have our client arm. We recommend starting with the business goals. When you say make data for strategic decisions, well, what is the business goal? So ideally the marketers, you all, your audience really understand what the revenue growth is, the market share, the user adoption numbers. Usually there’s very specific goals and metrics that the marketing organization is there to deliver. Now, in terms of informing marketing channels, for example, or your routes to market, there are specific metrics that we recommend. So some metrics I love are conversion rates. If you look at the funnel, top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel, there are conversion rates from the top to bottom, and most companies do a so-so job of looking at the conversion rates.

And when I say conversion rates, I’m saying, let’s say you have a thought leadership piece, like an ebook, or maybe it’s a white paper or a research note, look at the conversion of those prospects all the way through to the bottom of the funnel to revenue. And where is there leakage going on? There’s also good metrics on social media. So people in your audience, I’m sure you know, that some of the popular social media metrics include likes, shares, commenting, link-backs to your website. All of these are very measurable. There are nice tools to help you see, am I getting good engagement with that target prospect, target personas? Sentiment analysis. What is the disposition of that target buyer? Are they engaged, non-engaged? Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they frustrated? So you can get some good data on sentiment analysis. Share of voice is another one. What is your share of voice? Now that requires listening.

And lot of times your PR agency, AR may even have this, have tools to detect, to listen to the conversations out there and what percentage of those conversations are you actively mentioned and are getting a share of voice. The final set of metrics to look at our SEO, search engine optimization. Google Analytics provide some really good, easy to follow metrics, are the keywords you want to own trending up. Are you showing up on page ranks and page searches, things of that nature? So there’s no lack of data, I would say Maia. The thing we like to look at is pick about 10 of these metrics that I’ve just enumerated here and then track them over time. We like to look for trend analysis over the next 90 days, or last 90 days. What has transpired? Where are you getting traction? Where are you finding it’s a dead end and time to optimize?

Maia Wells:
Yeah, and I think that optimized piece is a really important thing to highlight because of course we have so many tools and technologies for looking at these metrics and you even have tools for amalgamating them into beautiful visuals, like a tool like Databox comes to mind for example. You can do a lot to see it. And then I think that optimized word is very important to highlight that you just ended with because a lot of people stop there. They look at it. Great. And there’s not a now what, and I think making pivots where necessary or thinking about next steps, making those strategic calls based on data is a super important piece of that.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Yeah, I totally agree. And some companies do a really nice job of AB testing, for example, of subject lines in an email blast. So AB testing is a form of optimizing. You try something out and see what kind of results you get. And then you optimize and you adjusting on the fly. Make changes in your execution and Databox is one tool. There are so many good tools, each for different functions. There are tools for social media. There’s tools for SEO. There’s tools for sentiment analysis. I could do a whole blog post on here are the tools you should really think about in your mar-tech stack that you might want to have to make good decisions based on actual data and your key performance indicators. Yeah.

Maia Wells:
100%. Can you give us an example of an unexpected success that you’ve witnessed or that you’ve been a part of with a SaaS go-to-market that you’ve led? Give us an example of an unexpected success.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
I think one of the hidden gems, we stumbled upon this at Aventi Group, a little over a year ago, year and a half ago, one of our clients, full disclosure is Adobe. And we were looking at their software trials, Adobe’s software trials. And what we found is that there was a fair amount of leakage and Adobe is not alone. So as a SaaS company, there are many SaaS companies that they use what’s called product-led revenue, product-led marketing. So the product itself is selling and marketing itself within an organization. And software trials are one tactic to get someone, a user to try the software and then actually use it and then recommend it to their colleagues. Now, what was happening is there was a lot of leakage. People would sign up for the trial and then they wouldn’t actually download the software or actually use it. So there was tons of leakage. The marketing organization will drive people to the trial site. There might be some signups and then it just dies.

So what we did is we looked at the whole end-to-end user experience of the trial, software trial, free software trial. And again, a lot of our SaaS clients are doing the same thing. And we found we could get a three times, a 3X improvement in the trial usage. This is post-signup. And ultimately a 50% bump in revenue just by looking at free software trials as a end-to-end user experience process. A lot of marketing organizations, they just stop at, hey, we’re here to drive trials sign-ups, and then they stop and no one else is watching or steering the ship and say, well, did they convert to revenue? And we looked at that, so this is an unexpected success, Maia, I would say, because who knew? We all know software trials are cool, but we didn’t know they were just an under-utilized resource.

Maia Wells:
Can you give us a few concrete examples of what that transformation actually ends up looking like? So once you take a look at what’s happening during the free trial, are there things that you add within the product, let’s say tool tips that bring people along in the story? Do you use email? What are some of the tools or some of the changes that you ended up implementing to drive that 3X improvement?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Yeah, it’s the whole end-to-end process. For example, even the sign-up. We start at the signup. So it says double-click on this whole free trial ware, free trial software. If it’s too many clicks just to sign-up, then people just abandon. So, that was one opportunity. The website, the trial sign-up sheet. Is that really super easy for someone to sign-up? Then post-sign-up. Is it really easy to actually download or use that SaaS? And we found there was leakage there because if it’s too hard and yes, a little video clip is really helpful. We found a little 30-second video clip of here’s how you get started, a tool tip, as you said, was missing. A lot of these software companies didn’t do that. They just say here’s a sign-up. Now download. Well, what do I do after I’ve downloaded? How do I actually put it to use in my use case? So little video clips, little tips itself, that’s just copy, copy on the website. Or usually it’s a micro-site or a landing page or something.

And then within the product itself, we like to encourage hooks in the software to detect are people actually using the software. If they’re not, then that’s a sign that there’s some abandonment going on. So the product itself can have some reminders to say, “Hey, your trial has started. You have 25 days left, for example. You might try XYZ.” So more proactive outreach to that trial list. And I could go on, but we have six steps in this process, it’s an Aventi process to look at the trial. And we look at each and every step of the process and also benchmark it versus our client’s competitors because sometimes it’s a matter of, well, it’s easier to try someone else’s software than your trial software. So I’m just not going to bother. So those are some tips to think about.

Maia Wells:
Thank you. So what about some other unexpected successes?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Yeah. Another one comes to mind is SAP. We do quite a bit in terms of their virtual events. And we wrap along with an SAP event, for example, the innovation award. SAP looks to us to provide some help with that. They have an event. It’s a three-day event and this is one of their annual events. And I talked about that earlier in our call here, you and I, Maia, events are important, but people do tend to cherry pick specific sessions like an hour session here and there within the three-day event. The thing that was surprising to us is we did a lot of social media before, during, and after this event. When I say social media, I’m saying about the content within the event itself at SAP. And what we learned is the SAP executive told us the social media extended the life of that three-day event out to three to six months in terms of engagements of and conversations with those prospective customers.

So it was surprising. They thought most of the marketing was a few days before the event, during the event, a little after. The social media amplification was dramatic. It really extended the life of that investment over a period of three to six months. And that was surprising. We knew social media is important, but if you can wrap it with an event like this, then you get much more bang for your buck and you get a lot more stickiness, if you will, with this prospect. So that was surprising.

Maia Wells:
It sounds like these two examples that you’ve given so far actually do have a common thread, which is don’t just deliver the thing and then stop there. So in other words, don’t just grab the people into the free trial and have a nice day and don’t just have the event and then, like you’re saying, maybe post a couple of wrap-up videos and that’s it. So would you say that there’s a common thread in some of the successes that you’ve experienced with Aventi Group?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Yeah. Maia, that’s an excellent catch. That’s a really smart connection you made there. And I think the key there was around relationship-building. We’re trying to build trust, build relationship between our clients, tech firms, the SaaS organization, and their prospective customers. And there’s a Gartner statistic that says something like 60% of the buying happens before that company ever even talks to a salesperson.

Maia Wells:
Incredible.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Something like 60, 65%, in that range. Think of it as two-thirds of the decision process, the learning, the education and getting informed happens long before they ever even talk to a human being. So, yes, you’re right, Maia, very good comment. In both these examples, it’s not throw something out there and see what happens. It’s more like, how do you engage with those prospects, build relationship, content, and understanding that their experience is just very important, I think, to establish this stickiness.

Maia Wells:
And that leads me absolutely to this example that you were talking with me earlier about, about customer advocacy programs.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
It does.

Maia Wells:
You’re developing this longterm relationship with someone, helping them to learn, to grow, to do their job more efficiently, and then to share that experience.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
And people love to share. And I think I like that comment you just made. People intrinsically like to share. People, meaning if you’re a SaaS company or a software company, and you’re targeting a set of buyers, those folks are already hanging out in a couple of areas. So one is product review sites. They’re kicking the tires long before they ever talk to you. They’ll go to G2, for example, or Capterra or Gartner Insights, Trust Radius is an awesome company where they put up a lot of very interesting success stories. All of those websites are places where your prospects are already going to get educated, to your comment there, Maia. They’re trying to get educated and informed before they’re even ready to make a decision. They’re just trying to understand something. And advocacy programs is all about sharing. So it’s the same idea. Why do people go to Gartner Insights or Capterra or G2? They’re going to share their personal experience. They’re there to share.

Customer advocacy programs is all about, make it easier for your customers to share their experience. Obviously, if it’s a positive one, you want that. And one example comes out, comes to my mind is Juniper, one of our clients. They do a program called Juniper Ambassadors. I would highly encourage you to Google that up. Juniper Ambassadors, and this is a customer advocacy program and it makes it easy, easy, easy for Juniper customers to share their experience. And it provides easy access to new products that Juniper is launching. It invites them to user meetings, and there’s a lot of social media amplification as well that Juniper does very nicely. So both of these product review sites, advocacy programs are all about helping your target customer share their experience. And you want to be part of that conversation.

Maia Wells:
Sounds like just such an uplifting way to look at the business that we are all in, that it really isn’t just figure out a message, grab some leads, maybe make some sales along the way. It really is a relationship-building process. It makes it more human.

Sridhar Ramanathan:
It does make it more human. And I want to give credit to one of my fellow Aventi partners, Avery Horzewski, who’s an expert in social media and she reminds me all the time, social media and all of these, it’s about sharing, authentically sharing. It’s like if you were in a living room or having coffee with somebody you just met, you want to get to know them. You want to share your experience. You want to understand, learn, hear their experience authentically. And what a lot of marketers I’m afraid sometimes do is broadcast. They just pitch. They broadcast. It’s like one way out and that’s not really what works well. What works better is to listen, to share, to understand, to appreciate. And it’s much more human as you said, Maia, I think it was brilliant comment on your part. This is about how do humans interact in the real world and how could we as marketers do a better job of doing what humans naturally do when you bring them together.

Maia Wells:
Beautiful. Well, I want to know actually, so you do a lot and you know so much, what is one of your favorite current projects? Can you share your favorite project with us that you’re working on right now?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Oh, favorite. Oh Maia, this is tough. You’re making me choose one. Can I sneak two in, if I may?

Maia Wells:
Yeah, we can allow it. Yeah. We’ll let you do two. What are your two favorite current initiatives?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
A couple initiatives. One is messaging and positioning. We’re really very rigorous and disciplined about that end customer, that target buyer. What exactly is your value proposition? What pain points are you solving for? What are their purchase triggers? Really try to get into the minds, the heart, the soul of that target buyer. And that is messaging work, messaging and positioning. Sometimes SaaS companies are so ready to get to market and they think the product will sell itself. Well, I hope it does, but good messaging requires some deep thought, deep research, deep understanding of that target set of personas. So that’s a favorite initiative of mine for years, of ours for years. The best marketers are the ones who do a rigorous job on messaging and positioning stuff. So know that target customer so that you can engage more effectively. I would say close second, Maia, if you made me, is sales enablement. Sometimes marketers don’t put enough attention on the sales organization. That means either channel partner sale sellers or your sales organization.

Sales could include inside sales reps, sales development reps, account executives, channel account managers. So when I say sales, there are a variety of personas within sales. So it’s really important I think for marketers to work with your sales organization, understand they’re not going to read. Most reps don’t read really. I hate to say that. So what works for them? What is the best way to train and educate and mentor and coach and guide your sales reps? Sales battle cards are very important. Playbooks are good. These are good tools. Learning modules, but again, it goes back to relationship-building. You as a marketer, I would highly encourage you take some cycles every week to get to know your sales team and really work with them on these conversion rates, what’s going to make them more effective and help them make more money. And we all win when that happens.

Maia Wells:
And that is the same thread that we were talking about earlier, which is that follow-through, not just taking leads and dumping them with the sales team, but really figuring out a way to nurture the relationship in a way that works. So I love that we do have this wonderful common theme today of follow-through, commitment and nurturing of the whole wholistic relationship between different stages of the business or different stages of what you’re trying to achieve. Sridhar, I really appreciate you being on our show today. I want to know how can our listeners reach you or follow you? Where do you want them to connect?

Sridhar Ramanathan:
Well, it’s been a delight talking with you, Maia. I appreciate the privilege of doing so. And I love how you’ve summarized this whole point around the humanity that we want to bring as marketers to nurturing those relationships, whether they’re internal in the sales organization or external out to that customer. The best way to reach me is sridhar@aventigroup.com. That’s S-R-I-D-H-A-R at aventigroup.com. And the other way is in LinkedIn. I’m SRamanathan.