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Span (vs Split) Personas
Sometimes an idea will defy articulation until all the dots connects. And sometimes dots just connect when many more articulate people share their ideas. A few enterprise SaaS concepts I’ve been playing around with in my posts over the past few months recently came together:
your primary / target persona works within a larger, cross-functional process (hence you need to identify and activate latent adjacent users)
work happens collaboratively (vs individually), and the team is now the primary persona to build for (which is why you must default to multi player)
enterprise spend is focused on products that boost the efficiency and effectiveness of teams (i.e. productivity is the ultimate ROI)
Of course, there are no new ideas. Peter Drucker essentially spelled this out 50 years ago:
“There are no marketing problems, there are no finance problems, there are no accounting problems, there are only business problems.”
The gist here is an enterprise software solution (i.e. your product) needs to enable a horizontal pod with a job to be done vs a vertical persona that’s a step in the flow. Focus on design, not just designers. Focus on development, not just developers. Focus on research, not just researchers. Focus on sales, not just sellers. There are companies and products popping up around each these jobs to be done, and this article (nominally about why Salesforce bought Slack) walks through several examples.
There is nothing as succinct as a Tweet to drive the point home.
Products are workflows. It’s obvious once you see it. But the challenge (no one said PM-ing was easy) is getting your average enterprise customer to see this point of view. Some specific hurdles I’ve written about before:
enterprises measuring (or even caring about) team-level productivity
team-level productivity actually correlating to business outcomes
team definitions maturing from hierarchy-based to pod-based
Again, there is nothing as succinct as a Tweet to drive the point home.
I’d love to hear from readers who have found success (or just learned from) building for multi player pods in the enterprise - please chime in via comments👇. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
further reading / references
an evergreen post on enterprise loops that talks about the shift from individual to team productivity and how to identify the adjacent users that your product needs
Kevin Kwok’s Figma essay explains that “design is larger than just designers”, and you can continue the analogy from there into other enterprise workflows
David Sacks makes that the case that all the metrics you care about in enterprise SaaS (deal size, retention rates, seat expansion) are better with a focus on teams
an interesting plea via The Knowledge Project for business education to focus more on “problems that sloppily span across a bunch of domains”
if you liked the Tweet from Maggie, you might enjoy the Build podcast episode I recorded with her recently (it’s a strategy teardown of a well-known product)
childish drawing / interpretation