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Partho Ghosh Reveals How Marketing and Product Teams Alignment Works at Hootsuite

Akhil G
June 3, 2022

Partho Ghosh, Sr. Director of Product Growth at Hootsuite is a well-known PLG speaker and a product growth expert. His background is in product management and growth and he worked with Unbounce, Glance Technologies, Bananatag, BrainStation, and currently Hootsuite. We got a chance to chat with him on one of our episodes of ‘The Product-Led Marketing Show.’ 

In this episode, Partho talked about how marketing and product teams alignment works at Hootsuite and the challenges when customer experience transitions to a self-service or product-led model. 

Key Takeaways

Lessons He Had to Learn or Unlearn When He Switched to Product-Led

I asked Partho about the things that he had to unlearn when he switched to a product-led model and this is what he said: 

I believe some of the ways that we conduct tests in PLG are really different from other sales-led models. In a PLG model, you can get really deep insights from simple A/B tests. Sometimes testing just prototypes and activities like painted door tests and smoke tests can give you enough indicators that this is an idea that you should go and launch.

In a sales-led model, we were doing that by communicating with sales and CS to make sure that it gets to the right customer base. However, in a PLG, you have to unlearn that, and you just go and talk to your customers and just send it out the door. If you're a product-led company, what matters is getting it in front of the customers, not playing the politics of going through account management, customer success, and then the customer. 

Also, oftentimes in large organizations, there are a lot of steps before you can talk to a customer, but in PLG, you just have to bash through and talk to the customers right away.

Working With the Marketing and Sales Teams for the First Time

As a product person/someone from product background, I was curious to know about his experience working with the marketing and sales teams for the first time and this is what he shared: 

I’ve converted three companies and businesses into a product-led growth model, which includes enterprise organizations that are focused on fortune 1000 customers and one thing I learned is that there’s always room for PLG motion. In any GTM model, product managers are often the glue between different teams as they often figure out most of the things and get all the inputs from internal stakeholders and customers. But in a PLG model, they are on steroids as they have to be so open and vulnerable and listen to all of the different inputs and give that input and let other teams experiment on your product. So you really have to open that floodgate. 

It's really easy to work with the marketing teams because most of the marketers want to work on their campaigns in a PLG type fashion. They want to talk about the product quickly and they just see PQLs come through a lot faster and succeed on conversion quickly in PLG. So I think with marketing teams, the transition hasn't been that difficult. In fact, I've often found they're clamoring for PLG more than other orgs. 

Sales, I think, is a different beast. I think that there's a lot of concern with sales teams on what PLG is and what it means for them. I think the PLG community or the term, unfortunately, got too focused on free trials and freemium and not needing a sales team, like it was very anti-sales, that's completely untrue. 

I often talk a lot about expansion with PLG. A lot of PLG companies focus on early PQLs and the conversion at the front. But in fact, PLG is also about retention and expansion and finding great fit customers that can expand on their own and upgrade on their own. I think the sales can help here when a customer is ready for the next step. Customers are mature and sophisticated and they're really doing well with the product. Let's get them to try the next level and help them through that.

Product and Marketing Teams Alignment at Hootsuite and How Did They Overcome the Initial Challenges

I asked Partho about the product and marketing teams alignment at Hootsuite and how he overcame the initial challenges. This is what he said: 

We have customer success and sales teams in place, and the customer success team reports up to our sales organization. Then we've got our marketing team, which also has a split kind of between brand marketing and growth marketing. The product growth team reports to our product management department. My department is basically right in the middle of growth marketing and product management. 

Since we're kind of right in the middle, we work with both sides, very consistently. We work across all of the product management to talk about adoption funnels and improving conversion. We work with the growth marketing team to understand what's working, and what's not, and also utilize the progress that growth marketing teams often have in conversion rate optimization and bring that into the product. 

But organizationally, we are now really trying to align around PLG and the whole organization is kind of determining how that all works. I'm really proud of the work that's been done. We have some awesome leaders in our sales organization who have been even updating their own org structures to really align with how PLG works. So it's a collective strategy in a collective unit. While we have splits in our reporting around self-serve revenue versus enterprise or sales revenue, we're kind of removing that notion over time. 

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