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How Product Marketing Can Better Align with Sales: Advice from Bob Boyle, a Seller Who Accidentally Became a PMM

If you visit Bob Boyle’s LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that he became a product marketing manager (PMM) in January 2023. But if you have a conversation with him, you’ll quickly realize that he started doing product marketing long before that.

Bob is on the PMM team at Tessian, a provider of email security solutions. He joined the company as an account executive (AE) in April 2021 after a 5-year stint on the sales team at VMware Carbon Black.

As a seller at Tessian, Bob took a bespoke, high-tough approach to his engagements with buyers, working hard to identify pain points and even harder to create custom decks that addressed their pain points head-on.

A career move from sales to product marketing

“I was doing a lot of product marketing work without really knowing what product marketing is,” Bob told me. “For example, I was the go-to enablement guy whenever someone new joined the sales team. And whenever a new analyst report came out, I was the guy putting together slides and creating an email cadence and sharing all that stuff with my teammates.”

Eventually, Bob realized that he had been doing the work that PMMs do. “At that point, I started partnering with the product marketing team based out of our London headquarters,” he told me. “We worked on messaging together, discussing our customers’ problems and the words we use to sell Tessian as the solution to those problems.”

Not long after that, Bob transitioned into his current role as a full-time PMM, reporting to a manager who also has a background in sales. Given the path that led him to this point, there was one question that I was particularly eager to ask: What tips do you have for PMMs who are struggling to create (or improve) relationships with their sellers?

  1. Make sure your sellers know why the PMM function exists and what you do. This requires regular reminders, probably on an annual basis.
  2. Get sellers involved in your work. Ask them for feedback BEFORE you finalize new messaging, new content, new training materials, etc.

Bob gave me some extra commentary on that second tip: "At Tessian, we've implemented a process where each PMM is partnered with a seller and a sales engineer to run regular collaboration sessions. Every time I work on a new training course or piece of content, I meet with my group before I begin my work to review outcome goals, at the halfway point for a pulse check, and even before I submit content for final approval to my leadership team. This gives the sales team the chance to provide PMM with recommendations that make our content more valuable and easier for them to use, and as a bonus, it helps me justify to my boss why I've taken a certain approach. At the end of the day, it feels more like a true partnership between sales and PMM."

👉 For the PMMs reading this: With Bob's advice in mind, take some time today to reflect on how (if at all) you collaborate with your sellers. And if your team is hiring, now you know where to look for internal candidates.

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Conor Bond
Conor Bond is on the marketing team at Crayon. If, for whatever reason, you were to rip his headphones off his head and put them on yourself, you’d probably hear Weakened Friends or Charli XCX.