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During a recent conversation with a VP of product management — let’s call him Kelly — he confided that his team was struggling with “the whole Go-to-Market (GTM) area.”
The company doesn’t have a dedicated product marketing resource; the workload is shared between product management, marketing communication and sales. The CEO has refused to authorize additional headcount in the short term.
Everyone hates this process! There are too many competing launch events and activities. The dilemma is that no one really owns the go-t0-market, yet everyone is involved.
By default Kelly owns the problem and needs to find a solution.
Here is an approach I shared with him on how to improve this situation while dealing with headcount constraints. It is straightforward and I have seen companies get meaningful benefit in a matter of weeks.
Who Owns GTM?
The answer to this question will vary from company to company, but if a product launch doesn’t go well or the Go-to-Market has problems, most companies will look to Product Management or Product Marketing to solve it.
If there are too many people proclaiming ownership or too many checkpoints, go through a roles and responsibility exercise. I find it is well worth the time required, because it flushes out all the spectators who might be exerting influence over the product launch or GTM.
Another benefit is the roles responsibility exercise will separate “chickens” from “pigs”.
In a perfect world, this area is owned my Product Marketing with support and contribution from Product Management and marketing communications. A large company might be closer to this ideal state than a small company. My experience is that both small and large companies struggle with the hand off between functions. There is always a need to look at the specific ownership of deliverables regardless of company size.
A classic RASIC diagram can be a great tool to use for this exercise. Unless your company is unique this exercise will highlight areas of duplication, gaps and potential confusion.
Share the results of this exercise with members of your senior team. Use it as a way to illustrate disconnects in the whole GTM process. Show a little initiative and highlight areas where adjustments and changes may improve the outcome. Who knows; they might become receptive to dedicated resources.
Not All GTM’s Are Equal
All of your products are not equal. Therefore, the scope of each GTM or launch project should fit the product. This needs to be set up in advance, preferably during the annual business planning effort.
Take a look at the product portfolio. Using an objective criteria assess the level of investment and effort that is appropriate for each product in the portfolio. This is a great use of the Boston Consulting Grid (BCG) or the GE strategy matrix.
Combine input from key stakeholders in the organization that helps separate products that deserve more GTM investment from those that get less.
The questions you should be able to answer are:
- What is the market potential for this new add-on or this completely new product?
- What is the near-term sales potential for this add-on or a new product?
These answers must be quantitative and should be plotted on a matrix.
Product management is the final authority on identifying market potential. The sales team is the final authority on identifying sales opportunity.
Classify Investment and Resources (Example)
|Level of Investment||Strategic Fit / Goal||Market Opportunity||Booking Potential
|Very High / Retention|
|Global: >$MM||Above $MM/Yr
|MEDIUM||Moderate / Competition||Regional: <$MM||Between $M & $MM
|LOW||Limited / Sales||Opportunistic: TBD||Below $M
No product manager would begin a new product concept without user stories, problem statements or requirements. The same is true with the go-to-market for a new product or a major add-on. The best practice in this area is to set several objective measurements for the go-to-market. The obvious ones are demand generation and web metrics. I would encourage the GTM team agree on one or two stretch goals that have value to one of the strategic business initiatives.
For our VP I suggested his GTM team focus on a sales enablement objective. This was in direct response to one of the criticism from the VP of Sales.
Interlock the sales process
The biggest benefit to mapping the GTM to your company’s sales methodology is to predefine the deliverables and establish their value to sales organization. This is a great way to begin to weed out unnecessary steps, tasks and work products that may not be useful.
If your company has a formal sales methodology this will be straightforward. If not, you will need to have a dialogue with sales or channel management to define the most valuable tools and where they fit in the sales sequence. This activity alone will have a positive effect on your relationship with sales.
The tie off with your company’s sales methodology and actual campaigns will also make it easier to quantify the results of the GTM project and track to the ultimate business results.
The following process diagram illustrates how GTM content and tools should feed and support the sales tools.
(click image to enlarge)
Begin with the End in Mind
GTM activities are expensive; they consume a lot of time and precious resources. This is the primary reason for developing metrics to continuously monitor and manage the effectiveness and efficiency of the overall GTM. As I mentioned earlier the obvious measurements are impact on lead generation, web metrics and sales funnel impact.
I urge teams to avoid the trap of pegging the ultimate success of a launch or GTM on the number of leads and percentage increase in sales funnel; at least initially. In the beginning better measurements would be process effectiveness, cycle time and quality of execution. As the team gains experience
business outcomes and hard metrics must become a component of the evaluation criteria.
Alignment at the top
Revamping the go-to-market disconnect in a company is an execution play. Which means that committed managers and team leaders can reduce the number of disconnects and improve overall effectiveness without permission.
Buy-in among the executive team will lead to the most dramatic change in your company’s GTM impact. With executive sponsorship the GTM process can become a strategic asset. It has the potential to provide a measurable return on investment just like other strategic initiatives such as branding, innovation and quality.
Mike Smart is Principal Consultant at Egress Solutions, a technology product management and marketing consulting firm that specializes in solving the critical product and market problems companies face.
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