• What is a Go-to-Market Strategy?

    A common definition for a go-to-market (GTM) strategy may look something like this: “a methodology for introducing a product, service or solution to its addressable market.”

    While the above explanation is correct, it leaves out the larger function of developing go-to-market motions to maximize customer lifetime value (CLV). Putting the wheels in motion, at every stage of the customer lifecycle, from inception to cross-sell, up-sell, and retention management, is to support the larger goal: maximize customer lifecycle value.

    As such, modern go-to-market motions start with an understanding of not just who your customer is, but how they operate, what they care about, when they care about it, and how an organization’s product or service can help.

    Infographic depicting levels of go-to-market strategy.

    An inside out approach uses business intelligence as the backbone of a go-to-market strategy. To fully maximize channel capabilities, organizations must understand not just who the customer is, but how they buy. Sales and marketing must work together to test omni-channel strategies and eventually understand the best paths to orchestrate a GTM plan that delivers the right message, to the right stakeholder, at the right time and place. And make no mistake: Delivering GTM orchestration is increasingly important, especially given rising customer expectations. In fact, 90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels (source). 

    The end game isn’t just consistency and visibility, of course. 

    So, what is the true definition of a GTM strategy? It’s an ongoing pursuit, rather than an achievement, to properly align company value propositions with the needs of its addressable market, while tactfully navigating internal and external variables, including market conditions, and the competitive landscape.

  • Why Do You Need a Go-to-Market Strategy?

    Because B2B organizations often mistake go-to-market strategies as being a new launch. This undermines the extensive use cases sound GTM motions provide organizations for ongoing, sustained success. Case in point: 40% of CMO Council members agree that improving GTM processes are top priority.

    As mentioned, GTM strategies serve a multitude of purposes for any company goal including:

    • New Products or Services: The aforementioned playbook an organization develops for introducing new or expanded feature sets to its existing target market.
    • New Markets: A GTM plan for testing known and unknown untapped markets. Believe it or not, this GTM motion is applicable either within or outside a customer base, especially within unengaged buying units in enterprise customers.
    • Existing Markets: Products that are currently offered need to adapt to evolving markets. Creating a GTM strategy gives time to evaluate what makes your product successful (and unsuccessful).
    • Cross and Up-selling: Retaining current customers is great for your revenue stream. You can maximize their value by re-evaluating their relationship in numbers.

    Using specific motions within GTM playbooks, modern businesses are more likely to save efficiency costs and realize gains in effectiveness, including: 

    • Clear directions and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all stakeholders
    • Modular GTM development that decreases the time to launch future plans to market
    • Reduction of sunk and opportunity costs associated with failed GTM plans 
    • Ability to capture, convert, and capitalize on customer needs and pain points
  • Steps to Build a Go-To-Market Strategy

    A solid GTM framework is never set in stone. It’s dynamic, just like the market. It also isn’t siloed. With many moving parts, B2B go-to-market plans should never be dependent on either outbound or inbound sales and marketing activities. It’s an omni-channel approach to understanding and engaging a potential customer in a meaningful way.  

    Every organization is unique, let’s examine the universal elements that every GTM strategy needs to generate desired results.

    1. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile

    A brand that shows personal value over business value is three times more likely to be considered by B2B customers. But to do so, B2B organizations should emphasize what their demand (the customer) cares about over its brand (your organization).

    This process is aided through creating an Ideal customer Profile (ICPs), data-driven rubrics that underscore the common, shared elements within an organization’s high-value customer-base. Consequently, determining what makes a good customer fit is essential to creating an ICP. 

    In order to refine an ICP that matches current customers who demonstrate optimal CLV, B2B sales and marketing teams must align on the following:

    1. Find, organize and segment your customer database
    2. Use financial and sentiment KPIs, such as Net Promote Score (NPS), Annual Contract Value (ACV), growth potential, retention rate, and other satisfaction/health scores.
    3. Find similarities between customers that go beyond standard firmographic and demographic ranges. For instance, instead of examining company size or company revenue, modern GTM strategies rely on B2B intelligence to identify relevant department structures (org charts, responsibilities, and number of employees within specific functions), and company revenue growth rates, instead of simple revenue metrics found in any press release or public filing. 
    4. Build a B2B database that reflects GTM goals 
    5. Prioritize and tier the best fit customers and develop GTM streams for plans for segmented, targeted market. 

    2. Find Your Buyer Personas

    You can’t launch a product without figuring out exactly who is going to buy it. And that cannot be stressed enough. Because while companies appoint decision-makers to make purchases, more and more deals rely on the approval of a larger buying committee made up of various stakeholders. 

    This is where buyer personas come in. 

    On average, 6.8 people are involved in purchasing decisions when it comes to B2B products . A detailed sketch for each of these roles helps tailor personalization in messaging in a more meaningful way. Typical buyer personas include:

    • Influencers: An internal representative, who has influence over purchasing decision-makers.
    • Subject Matter Experts: A point-of-reference that has years of expertise and knowledge of a particular product or service type. 
    • End User: Uses product or service regularly.
    • Stakeholders: One of the main executive contacts with a final word in important decisions.
    • Decision Makers: The final executor of buying decisions with purchasing teams reporting to them.
    • Procurement: Typically part of a purchasing team, procurement professionals specialize in negotiations and governance while dealing with external vendors. 

    3. Develop a Sales and Marketing Playbook

    Converting a potential buyer into an actual customer requires sales and marketing alignment. Throughout the buyer’s journey, these two primary functions need to partner and communicate shared expectations. Cross-departmental agreements like this are not easy to implement. Key processes include embracing the following terms and concepts: 

    Lead-to-Revenue Management (L2RM)

    L2RM describes the entire process of lead management. What defines a lead? What agreed action items are required upon creation of a lead from both sales and marketing? What strategies are in place to nurture, convert, qualify and close leads? What are the technologies and workflows that aid in the execution of these strategies? And how is success measured. From inception to close, optimal L2RM is achieved when sales and marketing are aligned, completely in sync. 

    Sales Funnel

    Through a combination of signals that indicate thresholds across qualification, timing, budget and fit, GTM teams can establish a reliable sales funnel. While every customer — and thus every potential business opportunity — is unique, establishing road rules for transitioning prospects to move further down the funnel, based on its likelihood to close, helps support forecasting models, and thus organizes customer acquisition in a systematic way. 

    Furthermore, sales funnels can trigger GTM motions using a stage-based approach to tailor messaging toward various stages, like Awareness, Interest, and Consideration. Finally as part of L2RM, sales funnels can keep sales and marketing teams aligned through the use of service level agreements (or SLAs) to precisely lay out who does what when. 

    As the foundation of governance and accountability, SLAs enable B2B organizations to agree on what good looks like, both from a process and results perspective. The binding contracts coordinate L2RM responsibilities and processes, and shared KPIs between sales and marketing teams, depending on where a prospect currently is in their buyer’s journey.

    4. Organize Revenue Lead Sources and Channels

    Tracking lead sources and which channels they come from helps with budgeting focused on quality, quantity, and profitability. 

    Inbound Marketing

    Inbound marketing is the process of attracting, engaging, and converting prospects direct response channels, usually a company website. Inbound leads are generally valuable, as the prospect must proactively request to learn more about a particular product or service. The best part? Sales usually agrees. According to 59% of marketers, inbound prospects produce the highest quality leads for their sales teams. 

    These inbound prospects don’t magically organically gain interest in a B2B brand and take themselves to a site’s landing page. Common inbound marketing tactics implore the use of strategic long-term content marketing strategies across a variety of channels, including a company website, blog, and email nurture campaigns. 

    Outbound Prospecting

    Traditional outbound prospecting tactics are usually structured and executed by sales development teams. The idea is to create measurable outreach to un-engaged, or “cold” prospects, across direct channels such as telemarketing (cold calling) and email sequences. 

    While not as likely to convert at the same rate as the leads from inbound sources, outbound channels can gain quicker wins and provide more opportunities to build qualified pipeline. Outbound prospecting often becomes more potent when it can be combined with marketing efforts that put a company’s brand in front of prospects its sales counterpart is engaging. 

    Advertising

    Whenever spending, one metric to consider while evaluating the efficacy of programmatic strategies is ROAS (return on ad spend), which highlights channel performance and shows the amount of revenue generated from each ad. With ROAS in mind here are sources to examine for optimal revenue streams:

    • Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Utilized by tools such as Google Adwords, SEM is the art of keyword bidding and paid search, supported by search engine optimization (SEO). 59% of B2B tech company users use SEM to help market their products while 64% use SEO (source). This research can be implemented into content and possibly get to the top of google search.
    • Re-targeting/Display: Unfortunately, not every site visitor engages with company content. Utilizing retargeting methods and tools help bring back these visitor IPs and possibly become a prospect or lead. Retargeting can increase conversion rates by 150% by offering the option of self-selecting topics appealing to them. In the B2B space, retargeting outperforms B2C retargeting by over 400% on conversions per impression.
    • Social Media: A company operating in the 21st century can’t go without social media, even B2B. 52% of all online brand discovery occurs in public social media feeds. Though it seems like it’s just for B2C, B2B entities can still leverage social media for brand exposure, communications, and partnerships.
    • Trade shows: 88% of marketers participate in trade shows and events to raise company and brand awareness . Trade shows and events are a prime place to connect with potential customers and partners (and also free drinks). But if you go into one without a plan or strategy to maximize these opportunities, you won’t be able to fully justify the cost of entry, lodging, travel and all other expenses.
Logo for Atlatl.

How Atlatl Software Improved GTM Results by 400%

When you’re creating a new market, you can’t necessarily follow traditional processes to create top of the funnel demand. Believe me, we certainly tried. Two years in, I took a step back to examine the analytics from sales outreach, which yielded just 2% percent conversion rate. Read Atlatl's ZoomInfo Story

Frequently Asked Questions About Go-to-Market Strategies

  • What is included in a Go-to-Market Strategy?

    As previously stated, every GTM strategy is inherently unique. Yet each plan to successfully penetrate prospective buyers should include the following characteristics:

    • Product offerings: Differentiated value proposition and market need: Before introducing a product to the market, companies should establish its potential for viable demand.To do so, four primary questions need to be answered:
      1. Who would potentially use the solution?
      2. How essential is the value the solution provides?
      3. Moreover, does this value proposition already exist in the marketplace?
      4. If so, does the product in question provide enough differentiation to the potential customer base to displace existing competition?
    • Market segmentation: Refers to understanding and organizing a customer base’s specific needs.  While every customer is unique, segmentation allows you to group customers based on shared characteristics, thus streamlining the personalization process.
    • Omni-channel marketing: The process of testing messaging and placement through awareness campaigns across the spectrum of engagement channels specific buyers are most likely to respond to, including digital (search engine marketing, display advertising, content marketing), trade show and event marketing, direct mail, and more.
    • Distribution: Even after assessing demand and optimizing engagement, a sustainable GTM strategy must also consider distribution.How a product is delivered, implemented, and on-boarded to new customers will help ensure its ongoing success. After all, the first step to optimal market penetration is finding proof of concept through customer satisfaction. And that goal is only achieved if a product delivers on the value that the initial GTM strategy promotes.
    • Measurement and Key Performance Indicators: GTM strategies should aim to inform immediate and future strategic decision making. Mapping GTM KPIs related to pre and post-launch activity fosters accountability and visibility into benchmarks that highlight what’s working and what’s not.As such, KPIs should span as granular and broad as needed. Both company-wide and department-specific objectives should be transparent to key stakeholders. If done correctly, cross-departmental collaboration is usually enhanced.
  • Should go-to-market strategies change based on company size?

    Finding your potential customers’ problems — or pain points — are important to GTM strategy messaging. These messages resonate more when identifying and communicating what uniquely relates to them. With collected and analyzed customer data you can find the following types of pain points:

    • Finances and Budget: Customers spend resources on their products and services and are always looking to reduce costs. Internet sales-driven companies have a significant reliance on marketing, with 65% of the median company’s customer acquisition cost (CAC) budget devoted to marketing.
    • Production: Customers want a solution to improve efficiency and optimize their budget. Production improvement can be implemented on various scales; from the individual to the entire enterprise.
    • Support: Customers that go through the buyer’s journey with little or no support lose confidence in business relationships. Giving continuous support to customers, potential or current, strengthens these relationships and guarantees value for all parties.
  • Should GTM Strategies Change by Company Size?

    For smaller companies looking to quickly grow its customer base, reaching out to prospects without any form of segmentation is a fool’s errand.

    That said, there are pros and cons of pursuing enterprise companies versus mid-market or SMBs.

    First and foremost, targeting enterprise companies usually equates to larger deal sizes. On the other hand, enterprise companies often have more governance (“red tape”) around procurement and vendor management, resulting in longer sales cycles.

    Meanwhile, smaller companies may come to decision about investing in new solutions for their business. However, in most cases, the cross-sell and up-sell possibilities are limited compared to enterprise organizations. Another catch 22 is whether SMBs and mid-market companies will churn, as budgetary resources are usually at a premium.

With ZoomInfo, we more than doubled our activity; and our efficiency skyrocketed. Since then, we’ve grown our pipeline over 90% per year.
Justin Hiatt Vice President of Digital Sales, Workfront

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