As a successful CEO, growth is something you’re very fond of, and rightfully so. If you’re experiencing growth, it also means you’re planning and executing your go-to-market strategy. But if you are from a finance, operations, or product background, without a lot of sales and marketing training, executing your go-to-market strategy well can be a tough task.
The go-to-market plan is a comprehensive effort that requires coordination across departments. The majority of the work is focused in marketing and sales, but that doesn’t mean that one of those departments has to head the initiative.
The leader of go-to-market teams should be an executive sponsor with a neutral position. They need to own the process, weigh in when necessary, make decisions, and ensure the project stays on track. The number one internal issue that can derail go-to-market plans is a lack of communication that results in confusion and indecision.
No one expects the process to go according to plan. There are too many unknown factors that can impact it during the development and execution. Some will be internal, others will be external and you’ll have little to no control over them. Without an executive sponsor leading the way, these issues will wreak havoc on the initiative.
Debate and disagreement should be expected. As long as the conflict is healthy, it is the only way to arrive at the best solution. An executive sponsor can better manage the conflict, provide the larger company vision as it relates to the initiative, and can more quickly get approval or buy-in from the CEO and other executive team members.
In setting up the go-to-market task force, the executive sponsor should include key stakeholders from each department. This includes product, engineering, distribution, operations, finance, business development, support, success, marketing, and sales. The task force should meet on a regular basis to provide updates on the progress of the launch and to discuss any roadblocks they are experiencing.
In addition to building strong communication, the executive sponsor should also encourage transparency as well as alignment on success metrics. Everyone should understand what success looks like, what is expected of them and their team, and how they can contribute to the success of the launch.
Assuming you have your executive sponsor in place, the next step is to avoid many of the mistakes companies make in their go-to-market strategy. Below outlines the four most common mistakes, as identified by SBI, and how to avoid them.
Coverage: Do I have sufficient coverage in my markets?
Top-growth CEOs implement detailed account segmentation. This emerging best practice enables executives to understand the following factors at the individual account level:
- Propensity to buy
- Potential to spend
- Match to ideal customer profile
- Cost to acquire
- Estimated customer lifetime value
The effort to implement detailed account segmentation will provide a level of clarity across the entire organization.
Sales channels: Have I selected and optimized the right sales channels?
Lay out all your available options—including channels you don’t currently use. Then ask yourself if you have a market expansion opportunity by exposing your products or services to an entirely new sales channel. Consider whether pursuing a new channel would have a material impact on growth in the context of your industry and your competitors.
Pricing: Have I priced my products and services correctly?
Top-quartile CEOs participate in an agile and robust win-loss analysis. This emerging best practice involves a weekly review that is sourced from won and lost deals. A neutral person, usually in product marketing or sales operations, conducts interviews using the sales process as the lens to review the sales campaign. In addition, customers are asked specific questions about how they evaluated pricing:
- Were you the most or least expensive?
- Was it easy to understand your pricing?
- Was your price worth the value?
- Was there transparency?
This approach maintains pricing integrity because it is entirely outward-in and market-driven. It provides frequent feedback that enables the CEO and functional leaders to make real-time pricing strategy changes that reflect what customers want and are willing to pay for.
Packaging: Do I have compelling packaging that also makes it easy for customers to buy my products and services?
You have to be adaptable. Software packaging is a prime example. Cloud and subscription services have completely altered the way customers buy software. Because of this disruption, CEOs have had to adjust their packaging approaches. Very often you will see and hear a CEO discuss completely different packaging and pricing for SMB, midmarket, and enterprise segments. Those who refuse to modify their packaging approach are left behind. Rapidly changing needs and customer demands make adaptability the source of competitive advantage.
So how do you measure up? Do you have strong leadership for your go-to-market initiatives? Do any of the four common problems outlined by SBI hit a little too close to home? If so, they also provided these five signs that it may be time to modify your go-to-market strategy:
- Your industry and your competitors are growing revenues faster than you are
- Your company is undervalued
- Your markets have matured and you need to enter new growth markets
- Your products are not persuading existing customers to buy more and they are not attracting new customers
- Your competitive advantages over traditional competitors are eroding
If you’re not sure you have the right team in place to execute your go-to-market strategies, send us a note, our executive recruiters can help determine what additional skill sets will complement your current team.