Aligning Teams Around a Product-Led Growth Strategy
Successful product-led growth strategies rely on horizontal teams. There should be minimal silo’ing between business units to ensure that all relevant information is collected and shared multilaterally.
In order to properly execute on any product-led growth strategy, you need to have cross-departmental cooperation. Though every team at the company is in theory working toward the same overall end goals, aligning different departments can oftentimes prove challenging.
Customer success should be building out the reports that educate the rest of the organization and they should be bridging the gap between other business units
Below we cover two ways you can better align your teams to ensure your product-led growth initiatives are fruitful.
Break Down Silos
If you asked a rep on your sales team what your engineering team was working on – or vice versa – do you think they’d have an answer? In most companies, they’d probably shrug their shoulders and say “no.”
Teams tend to work in their own worlds – or silos. However, when you’re using a product-led strategy, that won’t cut it. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to break down those walls and open up the lines of communication.
Give access – One of the most common ways information gets siloed is through team specific tools and dashboards. For example, your engineering team probably doesn’t have access to your CRM, or help desk. And sales and marketing may not have a login for Jira. It’s not to say everyone on both teams needs to have access, but you should consider having one point person per team that has access to those tools. And if there’s an opportunity to invest in tools that multiple teams can use, take it.
Report regularly – If it’s not possible, or pragmatic to have team ambassadors, another way to break down silos is by simply reporting on what you’re doing. If you do regular company meetings, you could give each team five minutes to do an update. Or, if you prefer to work asynchronously, you could have a living document where teams add in weekly, or bi-weekly updates so everyone can stay informed and work together more harmoniously.
When there’s a free flow of information, teams are better able to align because they know what’s happening in each other’s worlds.
Create cross-functional teams that are led by customer success
Though knowing what someone is working on is a great way to create alignment, it’s even better when people can actually work on a project together. With a product-led growth strategy it’s important to have multiple perspectives to make the best decisions, making cross-functional teams that much more important.
Find natural connection points – Sometimes when you try to form a cross functional team it can feel a lot like trying to push two positive sides of a magnet together. Instead of trying to force something, look for areas and projects where there may be some natural overlap.
For example, maybe you want to create some customer stories around a certain feature. You could connect your sales, marketing and data teams to complete the task. Your data team could pull a list of the top users of the feature you’re interested in promoting. Someone from your sales team could validate if someone on the list is a good match and reach out to them. Then your marketing team could do the interview and write the story.
The best part is the more you become accustomed to looking for ways others can help, the easier it gets. And as people work together they’re likely to form closer bonds and be even more successful in future projects.
Assign ambassadors – Another way you can help create cross-functional teams is by assigning ambassadors. For example, you could have someone from your support team be an ambassador to your engineering team. They would attend meetings and essentially act as an intermediary between the two.
It’s actually an approach that MailChimp took. They even decided to make it a permanent position. Though that may not be what’s best for all teams, having that regular line of communication keeps information flowing freely and can help reveal times, or projects, where teams can collaborate.
Creating cross functional teams can be largely to your benefit, but you do need to make sure there’s strong leadership shepherding any cross-functional team you create. Research by Harvard Business Review found that cross-functional teams that also had cross-functional leaders for their teams performed best. So, make sure you have a mix of backgrounds at all levels to get the best results.
Make it clear how people contribute – use customer success data and insights around the organization
Rallying someone around a cause can be difficult to do when they don’t know the effort they put forth is impacting the overall goal. Some teams may face that very issue when working on a product-led growth strategy.
In order to properly engage teams with their work, it’s important to communicate the impact they’re having. A study by Gartner actually found one of the leading causes for the Great Resignation was people feeling their work didn’t have any purpose.
Those feelings may be rooted in the overall type of work someone does, but it also could come down to how they feel they’re contributing to the business in general. It makes sense that the Harvard Business review found when employees know how they’re contributing to company goals they’re more engaged. And more engaged employees are more productive.
All of this is important when taking a product-led approach because it really does take every team buying into the strategy to get a positive outcome. If any one team doesn’t believe in what you’re doing, things may start to unravel.
Here are a few tactics you can use to keep people motivated:
Recognize people/teams publicly – It’s good to feel seen. When someone does a good job, be sure to shout them out. It could be in a team, or company meeting. Or, if you use something like Slack you could create a channel where people are able to share when someone – or an entire team – does something exceptional.
Celebrate successes – When you’re working toward big goals it can be easy to never take a step back and see what you’ve already accomplished. Though there will almost always be more work to be done, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to celebrate wins when you get them. Make sure leadership is taking note of every milestone, not just the big ones. And when you reach one, take a moment to pat yourself, and others, on the back.
Keep things in perspective – Growing a business is tough. By virtue of that, it’s near inevitable people will miss the mark sometimes and things will go sideways. When that happens it’s natural to want to look for the arbiter of our pain, but most failures – and successes – have multiple contributors. Anytime something consequential happens be sure to step back and take stock. Having a measured approach will always be better than flying off the handle.
Most everyone wants to know the work they’re doing is meaningful. However, if no one takes the time to let them know exactly why what they’re doing matters, then they may slowly start to question if it’s worth doing at all.