Great PMs know how to tell good stories with Priya Bhatia



AI-Generated Transcript

Priya Bhatia 0:00
My recommendation overall you know, if you want to build real influence to get the buy-in to do anything, in fact, you know, it’s not just experimentation always build a story I think story storytelling for product managers so I mean people talk about it but I don’t think people give enough importance to it. People feel like you know, you can wing it. It’s a skill that you need to develop over a period of time and data back storytelling, very few people can argue with that.

Khalil Guliwala 0:37
Hi, everyone, welcome to another episode of experiment nation where we interview the world’s top experts in conversion rate, optimisation, experimentation and growth, and share the strategies and tactics. I’m Google evolve. And today we have pre, via pre Obadiah with us. Introduce yourself.

Priya Bhatia 0:52
Yeah, for sure. Hi, hello, and hello, everybody watching this. I’m Priya Bhatia. I am the growth pm lead at seven shares. Seven shares is a restaurant b2b, the management software BRCC company based in Canada. But yeah, obviously, we have operations across North America, we serve restaurants, about a million users now, which feels so surreal users in North America. Yeah, that’s that’s pretty much what I do right now. In the past, I have been a part of the finance industry actually, which is interesting. If you want to know more, but the transition to becoming a product manager about four and a half years ago.

Khalil Guliwala 1:34
Yeah, amazing period, definitely, I think we’d love to talk about the transition, because I think a lot of that going on. But what maybe love to start with is, you know, is the fact that a lot of people who are working in experimentation, career conversion rate optimisation is sort of it’s or the stock is about the soft skills. You know, the idea is, you know, how do you get that experiment engine going when you don’t have barn it within the organization? Could you share some of your findings and experience on that?

Priya Bhatia 2:00
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s such an interesting question, honestly, very few people talk about this. So I really liked that. You’re asking me that? A lot of things that you do, you know, in experimentation, again, I say, obviously, this experiment is just a tool to get to the user psychology to get closer to the truth, which is the user psychology. How do you do that, though, because I’ve spoken to so many drive managers who struggle with just like, I think end of the day, it comes down to influence of you know, how much influence you have as a product manager in your organization. But how do you even create that influence? How do you get the buy in? And what are the soft skills that are required for that? A couple of things that checked out for me, were obviously creating this vision, a little bit of a vision of, you know, what is it that I’m trying to do? What is the problem statement, trying to back it up with data of you know, this is where we are seeing drop offs, this is where our funnel metrics are not working well, and creating the story around it. And, you know, maybe using hot jar to kind of convey that user story as well, that, you know, this is this is where your customers or users find it difficult to get over a certain step, things like that, which helped me build very early validation, I tested very small, small things in the beginning, they did very quick AP test, which kind of proved value in, you know, testing some of these things. And, you know, those were the two small, those small wins kind of helped me gain the buy in to experiment with the larger bets. And, you know, we as we moved up, you know, down the funnel there, we now now we were focusing more and more than doing more like pricing, amortization tests. So I think it’s a journey, overall. My recommendation over overall, you know, if you want to build real influence to get the buyer to do anything, in fact, you know, it’s not just experimentation, always build a story, I think story storytelling for product managers. So it I mean, people talk about it, but I don’t think people give enough importance to it, people feel like you know, you can wing it, it’s, it’s a skill that you need to develop over a period of time, and data back storytelling, very few people can argue with that. So I would, I would say, I would highly encourage people to build that muscle. And it’s an ongoing exercise, always a work in progress, but work on that, I think that is what will help you build influence in the organization. The second piece also is just like, yes, you have the story, but then again, presenting it to the right audience, you know, find the right people, right stakeholders to kind of voice your opinions about a certain for example, a solution, you know, you don’t think that a solution is the most appropriate thing. I didn’t talk to people and communicate that that community communicating that often is also very, very important. One thing that I do now, which kind of helps me get the buy in for anything I want to do, which is like, I have these big ideas sometimes that I want to feel when I feel like you know, I need the organization to sit up and take notice and you know, because I want the buy from all the different departments, it’s just not like growth cannot be done in a vacuum, right? You have to have the buy in off sales, marketing, you know, product teams. So customer facing teams. So how do you get that by, what I tend to do now is, if I cannot pull everybody into a room, I’ll create a deck, literally just create a dry deck proposal. But the proposal is still talking about the same thing, the story that I’m trying to convey that, look, this is what the problem is, this is our goal for the quarter or for the year. This is the data, this is what we are doing wrong, right now our competition is at is doing this. And if we did so and so improvements in the product, or we did some experiments, you know, these are the results that we can expect. So just broadly carving out that story is again, very important. Yeah, I’m happy to kind of dive into some of these.

Khalil Guliwala 5:53
Yeah, I’d say so I think on one hand, what it is, is about, it’s about having data back storytelling, I think is what I love to really dig more. So the idea of a deck, you know, because sometimes you can dribble, you know, just organizing a meeting is hard when you organize different departments and people that can even get so troublesome. That’s something which even you can do to console if you’re trying to influence somebody. Right? The idea is that, you know, like, for example, like, if you you got the idea together, can you talk more about some of the tactics to present the tactics to influence, like, if you’re somebody in a nooner organization, they may not even have a clear sense of what experimentation is. So how do you get to a point where, you know, you’re dealing with general level of people not knowing about the job description, to a place where you’ve got that buyer?

Priya Bhatia 6:37
Yeah, yeah, that’s a very interesting question again, and something you know, it’s, I this is a work in progress, honestly, like, this takes me back to two years ago, when I did not have the title of growth call, I just, you know, I joined as a cold pm at seven, she’s not I did not even know what growth meant back then. What happened is, there I was kind of kind of tasked to build a certain feature. And then I have always been because of my past career in banking, investment banking, just very, very data inclined, just naturally. And I should ask these questions, or just been very, very curious about, like, Okay, why are we working on a certain feature where I can see that the funnel is impacted. And so and so we like there are bigger opportunities there, I can see this clear drop off in these like basic customer, you know, experience via via shipping a new feature, those were those used to be my questions. One day, me and my designer kind of got together. And we kind of sneakily ran this test without actually getting a real buy in. And we decided to, it was a very small thing. And the test one, it was an AP test, and the variant was successful. And that’s when I kind of brought it back to my leadership. And I told them, like, we understand this paywall works better, you know, so and so forth. And that’s the time we were actually raising our series B, I think we raise a series B, and he was setting up a growth team. And because I had shown that curiosity of, you know, around data around being more experimental, in my approach, I feel like it was a natural fit, as well. And so when my, you know, current VP, then product director asked me, Do you want to do growth? It’s like, I don’t know what that is. But you know, I’ll figure it out. Well, let’s, let’s see what what it is. So my recommendation, again, is, if you don’t have the title of growth, or you know, you’re not in charge of experimentation, you you need to build that confidence as well in your leadership, right, like, do those small, small things. Experiment very quickly, you don’t have to do like a very big test to prove something that something works, you just need to prove that this concept of experimentation works like you can get closer to the user psychology by using an experimental approach. And anybody can do that. Like any product manager, you don’t need to have the title as well, like do that. So that you get the pie and it’s not the other way around like you, you, you should not be entrusted to do experimentation. And then you go and figure out what experiments to run. I hope that’s that’s making sense. It’s healthy.

Khalil Guliwala 9:13
It is and I think as you segue in next topic, which is how experimentation is in growth, and you’ve been pretty vocal about this, could you tell our audience about more or your your thoughts on that?

Rommil Santiago 9:23
This is Rommil Santiago from experiment nation. Every week we share interviews with and conference sessions by our favorite conversion rate optimizers from around the world. So if you liked this video, smash that like button and consider subscribing it helps us a bunch. Now back to the episode.

Priya Bhatia 9:37
Yeah, absolutely. been pretty vocal about it. And it’s honestly I don’t think it’s even a hot day. It’s just that you know, I get a lot of people asking me I want to do growth. Can you tell me what experiments to run? I’m like, Well, what do you want to learn? Why do you want to run an experiment? What do you want to do? So that’s that’s the that’s the part of my religious you know, frustration. then that’s why I wrote that article as well. Like, you know, growth is not equal to experimentation. When you’re talking about growth, you have to be very clear on the goal, like, what are you trying to learn? Why do you even want to, you know, grow in under growth, there’s, there could be multiple things that you can do. Like in the PA, if you’re talking explicitly about the PLC framework, then it’s, you know, how do you acquire? How do you retain? How do you monetize? Like, those are the three big levers? So what are you going to do? What what what level do you want to pull to grow? Right, those that has to be extremely clear? And then once you’ve done that, can you clearly identify in your funnel? Where are those drop off points? Can you can you qualitatively quantitatively identify what those drop off points are, if you do not have a strong, even data infrastructure to tell where you’re, where you’re lacking growth, or where you’re actually where there are opportunities for growth, it doesn’t matter what experiment you’ll run, you will not be able to tell its impact, right? Because you don’t know what you’re trying to grow. That’s why I that was the whole goal of writing that article. And so a few steps are very, very key for me, in order to say that, you know, let’s run an experiment, you have to be extremely clear about what is the goal? What, what are you trying to learn about the user, what is the current state, in terms of qualitative and quantitative data, I always like to back it up with like, just some user user testing, or you know, Hotjar video, or talking to even customer support, customer facing team to identify if this is a real problem. And it’s not just a data thing. So just kind of validating that as well, qualitatively and quantitatively. And then, you know, trying to do something really small, to run an experiment to test that whether okay, this hypothesis, now you have a hypothesis that a customer is not taking a certain action, or they’re not clicking on a certain CTA, because of so and so thing. Now let’s go and test it. And then again, the one thing that keeps getting just kind of, you know, forgotten when you’re running an experiment is setting up success metrics. So many people, they run the experiment, and then they at the end of the experiment, they kind of take a call based on Okay, something is happening. And then you know, this is success for us need to measure this, you need to be clear on what your success metric is, before you run an experiment. That is an experiment. So the experiment is literally a tool to get to what your goal was, which was, you know, you wanted to learn something about the user. But yeah, that’s that’s my take on growth not being equal to experimentation.

Khalil Guliwala 12:27
You know, I think sort of one thing I’d be interested to know about is, you know, is that is that you’re talking about success matrix, and you’re talking about your previous background in in investment banking. So I’d love to know a bit stuff about that transition. But maybe, before we get into that, I love to know, sort of, because you’ve got a banking background, you know, what, what should be the financial metrics that experimenters and growth marketing should focus on?

Priya Bhatia 12:51
Oh, wow, that’s a good one. So I would say what I take back from, you know, from my past career is mostly just thinking in ROI adults, like just return on investment in whatever we do. Right. So in those in that, in that in those terms, I think growth is very, very similar to how I used to think back then as well, like we were we used to work on transactions and, you know, used to look at rate of returns and things like that. That’s kind of how I’m wired to think so whenever now I’m trying to prioritize an experiment. I’m always thinking about the highest ROI. But you know, what, what, what initiative can give me a very high return on the effort that is invested. So that’s, I think, the biggest concept I carry from my finance background. But like, just in terms of finance, financial metrics, in growth, a few metrics that I definitely look on, not not a weekly basis as well, but just like a monthly basis, maybe is definitely CAC CAC payback. Those are the metrics that kind of helped me again, craft a story around, you know, why should we get more and more efficient around acquiring more customers? And how do we acquire more customers? How do we activate them? How do we do that more in a product light way? So I think those would be the financial metrics. Apart from that, I think in if you asked me what metrics and like tracking on a weekly or maybe daily basis, as well as mostly just trial to pay conversion, you know, how are onboarding completion is how activation rate is for the newer cohort? And yeah, maybe output as well are put in our poll, which is average revenue per trial and average revenue per user. Those are the metrics that we track as well.

Khalil Guliwala 14:37
Right. All right, pretty good question for you to like, you know, if you’re, if you’re starting with growth in your organization, and you’re and you’re trying and you’re trying different things off, either through a free plan trial or something else, how would you go about it? What What would you recommend?

Priya Bhatia 14:50
Yeah, very interesting. And to be honest, it kind of depends on the size of the organization. Why I say sizes is because the size of stage of the organization? Why I say that is because it’s directly kind of related to how much you know how many resources, how much resources, you can expand on this growth thing? And then you know, because it is also street driven, it’s very important to identify what is your biggest goal with the growth? Right? So for example, I don’t know if slapping a free trial or a freemium model is the right answer. So for example, if your product still doesn’t have good retention, which is the kind of table stakes to even think about growth, but for example, you are a person in an organization where you feel like, you know, we do not have a solid product that kind of retains very well, you need to focus on retention, if your product, you know, doesn’t have a sell, sell kind of conversion journey, right? Like, if you are getting into that sell. So motion, then you need to think about how can a user who’s experienced the value? How can they check out really easily really, really quickly without without really having to reach out to our Customer Support to present it? So it again, comes down to what is the goal, always, the first step to even you know, identifying that goal is to have a very strong data infrastructure. So are you really measuring your, you know, just top of the funnel, how you acquire customers, what percentage of customers are you able to retain, and how many actually convert, if you’re able to even build that journey for yourself, and have data, you know, kind of tracking these metrics really well, that’s a good place to start as you don’t need to, like just come in and ship things, it’s not necessary. So first, create that just a common I always say metrics is a common common language that you know, teams can talk about to talk about. So metrics kind of help you unite with marketing and sales teams as well. So and those are very important things, right, like growth is not not just plg, which is like kind of another thing that is kind of conflated with growth is growth was always there, in the past as a when TLG did not exist. So again, identify what’s your goal of, of growth. So having set up that, just just kind of completing that, you know, what you need to do. So one is get get your data infrastructure in place, track those metrics, identify where there are drop off points, like, are you acquiring enough leads, if you’re not, then you’re you need to do a better job of acquiring your users, if you do it in a product lead way, or whether you spend more marketing resources, you do more paid ads, whatever, whatever channels work for you, you need to focus on acquisition that if you think you’re able to acquire really, really well, but you know, customers do not, you know, convert from your pricing page, you need to work on your pricing, you know, compare yourself with your competitors, because at any point, a customer is trying to purchase your product, they are comparing your pricing to another competitors pricing. So even though your product is doing a good job of just acquiring activating, if the price point doesn’t the perceived value, you know, the next one doesn’t make sense in terms of perceived value, they’re not going to convert. So these are like the low hanging fruit, I suggest, you know, growth, growth professionals to go through, like go through this exercise, and then identify which is the biggest lever that you can move in order to I think good growth goal overall remains the same, like its revenue or user growth. So what is the biggest lever that you can work on that will help you move out good metric?

Khalil Guliwala 18:26
Yeah, so I mean, David, you mentioned Priya. So at this point, we’ve seen people conflate experimentation with growth, which you mentioned also might conflate product, let it appeal the product lead growth, with with with expert growth, but maybe could you talk a little bit about what makes them different?

Priya Bhatia 18:41
Yeah, I see, I don’t think this is it’s different. It’s, it’s a layer or a newer, just just concept, as well, like, in the past, the way things work with the way software was sold, was primarily through just the sales teams, right? So there was just a very heavy reliance, or a very tight partnership between marketing and sales leaders or sales department, where you know, the marketing team will just kind of go go out and market the product, and then pass those leads on to the sales teams. Now, the as we’ve got, as the industry has gotten too crowded, like every category has so many products out there, the power has kind of shifted to the users, right, like And that happened because there were some sub products that are offering dry before you buy, right, like typical like me, when was the last and like you talk to a salesperson to buy something, right? So that’s how users like to buy today. So that’s why like the power has kind of shifted to the users and therefore this product lead growth as a concept came into picture where like the product itself was responsible or you know, was creating that the lead funnel or driving the usage. And then now the sales teams go after those leads, because they know there’s high intent and they are better off. Now going after those leads, we’ve experienced the value of the product, because it saves them time and energy, it makes them much more efficient. They don’t have to explain they don’t have to spend the time and you know, take out take people out for lunches and dinners to kind of make that sale. Because the product is doing that. So it’s still like the conceptually I think the idea is still the same that you need to sell your software. But how you do that is just kind of the bar has kind of shifted to now the users of the product. Product usage takes precedence over just you know, marketing, marketing and marketing qualified leads. But conceptually, I think I would still believe growth is still the same.

Khalil Guliwala 20:50
And I guess me going back to your sort of your previous role investment banking, like what what, like, what, what, what made you switch sectors?

Priya Bhatia 20:59
Yeah, I think overall. Now, back then I did not know this is kind of called growth mindset. But I think it goes back to just on a personal journey as well, I think I’ve always had this mindset of trying multiple things, I would pretty much call myself a generalist and not you know, somebody who, who likes to kind of niche down in one particular area. And that’s just been me, that’s been my temperament overall across my life. So again, growing up in in India, maybe you know, this as well, which is the playbook is kind of written for us, right? Like, you get your engineering degree, you get an MBA, and then, you know, you find a job, the highest paying job in the finance industry, which is what I did, I also I was I started as a consultant, and then went to investment banking, and then eventually private equity, but kind of hit a wall like I was like, I’m yeah, this all of these kind of checkboxes are done for me what is next. So that’s, that’s also the time I got an opportunity to move to Canada. And I was close to the tech tech sector a little bit, because the investment that we used to do was in tech tech industry. So I knew about this field. And just, I was just kind of looking for something new to do and where where my skills would kind of find, you know, would be a little bit transferable as well. And I would really enjoy doing something. Again, how I made the transition was, again, very, very experimental, which is I took up a role in a very small seed stage company, and wanted to just kind of understand the ropes of working in a proper, you know, tech company. And, yeah, because it was such a small company, I got to wear a lot of hats, it was doing user research, I was experimenting, doing a lot of things, you know, just building the product as well. And overall, just fell in love with the craft, right? Like, I had the opportunity to learn in real time from what the customer was expecting and build it and then kind of share with share it with them and get the feedback. To me, that was like the feedback loop was such so quick. And that’s that is something that I kind of got me hooked on this, this journey that you know, okay, I can see the reward of my effort so quickly, right? If you’re working in an agile fashion, you could you could expect a year you could get I get that feedback so quickly. Whereas when you were working on some transactions, I’ve worked on transactions, which used to be like six months, one year, and if it materialized, it would give you some return. So that’s what I was like, Yeah, okay, I need to be in a much more fast paced world. And that’s why I kind of made that transition.

Khalil Guliwala 23:43
Yeah, it’s not so often people talk about a fast beat, you know, going from, you know, finding investment banking fast paced enough. But I think what you’re talking about is the speed of it, you know, it can take months versus growth. It’s like by the second you can look at stuff. As something you mentioned, I would love to know, as you talk about how you’re a generous and experiment, right? Have you been in some sense your journey into experimentation with experiment in itself? Have you applied experimentation, tactics like your personal life,

Priya Bhatia 24:11
I feel like I do that all the time. In my personal life. Like I said, you know, with product management as well, like, again, growth is not something new before I joined this company, as well as a product manager and how I got to product management is how I told you like it I literally just started in a very, very small role in a very small company. I think the company was only 10 of 10 to 1215 people max. So that that was a part of my experiment like professionally, but personally, I would say I just kind of dabble a lot into how you know what I enjoy doing in terms of like my health journey so I’ll experiment all the time with how what I eat, you know, intermittent fasting and cold showers, the all the things that you kind of hear in the public’s public debate. I try to learn try to see if it will works for me. Take what works for me use some things that don’t work for me just kind of leave it. So yeah, that’s how I experiment my first life. How about yourself? What would what would be your answer to this?

Khalil Guliwala 25:13
So I’m so my answer. So I’m actually a very introverted person by nature. And actually, I grew up with this, I grew up with a speech impediment, so I just stutter. And so I one day said, I don’t want to live this life being quiet, I want to learn. So I would literally just go and I would just say hi to a stranger. And I would go in order. And I would just like, I would just keep one thing at a time. And I will look at what words stop me what sounds I started on PS. And so I would use the small small stuff to a point where I was like, you know, I’m just one incremental step at a time. And here’s where I am right now. Where so that to me was just I was interested in like, I wonder if people are, you know, like, I think the mindset that we have at work, but then we turn on ourselves, it can be so much more enriching.

Priya Bhatia 25:58
Absolutely. Yeah. Now that you’re saying that I think I like and I can tell you like, even this podcast is our writing on substack. And just my LinkedIn journey is over where you find found me is also part of an experiment, right? Like I further I would call myself an introvert too. But I understood, you know, talking to other PMS, when people used to reach out to me that there is genuinely a lack of just, you know, knowledge. And, you know, there’s some gaps in this industry. And there’s just a lot of bad advice. It was just a little age that I wanted to scratch. And then I did not know how I’m going to do this. And LinkedIn was available to me. substack was available to me. And it’s a part of just that experiment to write, like, does this work? I think it’s working. I need to do more of that. But I think this is also a part of that experiment of how I get myself out there. Not only for myself, but just like how I spread that knowledge to people who don’t have it today.

Khalil Guliwala 26:58
Yeah, thank you. I think you’re sure they’re pretty, I think, I think that’s, it’s just so incredible. So I noticed that, you know, you’ve got this amazing, you know, it’s a substack page, we’re putting articles, can you tell? Are you telling me of your listeners that can if they want to follow you or learn more about your ideas? What what are the different places they can they can find you and find your content?

Priya Bhatia 27:16
Yeah, absolutely. Like I mentioned in then and substack is a great place and I tend to answer questions on LinkedIn as well. Like, you know, if you have a question on growth, I am very much happy to answer them. So feel free to like send a message as well and I’ll be happy to take it.

Khalil Guliwala 27:32
Thank you so much for for sharing your thoughts and for being here today.

Priya Bhatia 27:37
Yeah, for sure.

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